Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Le Petit Prince

So I've had this post rolling around in my head for some time. There's quite a lot of other stuff going on in there too but this post has survived in the cage for a while now.
Prince Fielder is my favorite baseball player. I don't know when this happened, that is that he became my favorite. Prince Fielder happened on May 9, 1984 at least according to Wikipedia and our accepted definition of when someone's life begins. Prince became a Milwaukee Brewer in June of 2002, in the first round with the seventh overall pick. This pick would be somewhat important in the novel Moneyball, in that it set the stage for Billy Beane's Oakland Atheltics to select Nick Swisher. It's one of my favorite stories in the book, because the rest of the book is devoted to how the A's saw through conventional baseball analysis to select players based on their on field performance as opposed to their look. Then during the section on the draft when the Brewers take Fielder the book takes the time to ridicule his weight and speed. I'm not sure that Beane shared this view, he probably just thought he couldn't afford to keep Fielder (a correct assumption it turned out) and wanted Swisher instead. Still, Michael Lewis at the very least can suck on .282/.390/.540 lifetime. Fielder could be argued to be the best player in that draft class.
Honestly though his skill is only part of the reason I like Prince as much as I do. I have wrote love sonnets in my heart for the way the man attacks the ball at the plate. Baseballs grow up hearing scary stories about Prince Fielder. He also is way faster than he would seem and once he gets going it's an amazing sight. I've seen him lower his shoulder into Yadier Molina at the plate and then help him up and give a pat on the back when Yadi hung onto the ball. I've seen Fielder laughing and enjoying the game as often as I've seen him with an expressionless scowl as he steps in to take a swing.
The Milwaukee Brewers are my favorite baseball team. They are my hometown team and while that doesn't mean as much now as it used to in terms of exposure they still remain etched in my memories of childhood. I cheer for them when they lose and when they win. This past season was the best the Brewers have ever had and I cheered for them. This upcoming season could be their worst and I will cheer for them.
Prince Fielder is not a Milwaukee Brewer anymore. He signed a nine year $214 million contract to play for the Detroit Tigers. At the time most focused in on what an obscene amount of money that is, and it literally is obscene. If you hear about someone making $214 million the first word you think of is "F**K." I honestly didn't think about the money that much. I just thought about how I would miss seeing Prince in a Brewer uniform.
I knew this was coming. I knew that a team would offer a young All-Star (with pedigree even!) a ridiculous amount of money that a team like the Brewers couldn't dream of offering. I didn't know it would be the Tigers. Many reports had linked the Cubs as being in the running, and I was secretly excited. Unlike most sports fans I don't really ascribe to rivalries and hatred of everything under a teams banner. I don't like the Yankees. I like Curtis Granderson. I can keep these things separate. I don't like the Cubs (settle down, Dave). I like Prince Fielder. I live in Chicago. I can see the benefit in that setup.
Prince had prepared me for the eventuality anyway. Fielder's agent was Scott Boras for a reason. I knew this. He knew this. He had said during the season that it was in all likelihood his last in Milwaukee. It's not what he wanted necessarily, but as a young commodity he was going to cash in while he could. I can't really begrudge him for this. He is set for life, as are his loved ones.
I'd have loved for Prince to be a Brewer for life but he's not and that's how it is. Baseball is a game but it's a business. Anyone who can make money off of playing the game and doesn't is a fool and isn't really looking out for his own interests. People talk about how small the difference between contracts are but not making as much as you can while you can is just selling yourself short and letting others make money off of you.
I named my dog after Prince Fielder and she is the most wonderful little muppet in the entire world. I am happy with this decision.
Prince Fielder will be coming with the Detroit Tigers to Chicago to play the White Sox several times this season. I plan on being there to cheer for him. Prince may win the World Series with Detroit this year or the next or anytime in the future. I will cheer for him then. Prince may win an MVP trophy and break the single season record for home runs. I will cheer for him then. Prince may foul a ball off his foot on opening day and completely shattering his ankle and derailing his career. I will be cheering for him when he comes back.
Prince Fielder is my favorite baseball player.