After reading this great interview at Right Field Bleachers with Seth McClung and reading the comments of my last post I felt the need to address McClung Nation. Seeing as this was the only blog name dropped in the article.
Seth McClung is "just a guy that’s very fortunate to play baseball". He's genuine, he's down to earth, he's a good person. He's what we'd all like to think we'd be like if we played baseball. He's not Ryan Braun who, based on reactions we've gotten in the past year, is a douchebag that you wouldn't want anything to do with if he couldn't hit a baseball. He's not Alcides Escobar who from all accounts abandoned his wife and daughter and he's not Trevor Hoffman, a first ballot Hall of Famer who has played since some of you were born and made millions of dollars. Seth McClung was someone we could all relate to as a human being and that's pretty cool. I believe all of these things and I think Seth was a pretty cool guy during his time in Milwaukee. He really tried to connect with the fans and his twitter was always entertaining, be it for the things he said or the way he spelled them.
(Speaking of twitter, this line in the interview was kind of bullshit. "I apologize to whoever Miller Park Drunk is about my misspelling things on there. I’m sorry that you don’t understand that 140 characters is usually 140 characters and I don’t really have a great spell check on my phone, but I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did and I enjoyed the fans. It was just my way of connecting." I do understand the character limit and that doesn't really make up for the fact that honored isn't spelled honerred and memory isn't spelled memorey (via) and a thousand other examples I could come up with if the account still existed. Either way, I was just making a joke and his spelling had no effect on my feelings towards him as a person or a player. So you're bad at spelling, who cares? There's no need for excuses. I'm bad at writing a blog. It doesn't matter. We're both good guys.)
Seth, along with his so-called doppleganger Todd Coffey, ranks highly on my 2009 Brewers I'd like to drink with and that's just about the highest compliment that I can give to someone. I liked him on the team which is more than I can say about a lot of players. However, this statement just isn't really true:
Had McClung not pitched the way he did in 08 the brewers wouldnt have made the play offs and the team tanked when McClung hurt his arm in 09.
That was from the comments. Yeah he had a great season, but he wasn't CC Sabathia. Let's be serious. The Brewers were 14-23 in games he pitched in 2008 and 14-27 in 2009. He came into quite a few games already behind, but what does that say about him as a pitcher? He had a role. He filled his role, but that's not to say that someone else couldn't have also filled his role.
McClung basically makes the same claim in his interview:
My role was basically, I think some of the radio guys in Milwaukee called me the janitor. It’s one of those jobs where if you don’t have a good janitor, man, you notice. But if you’ve got a good janitor, you kind of take him for granted. I’m not saying I was taken for granted by the organization because most of the organization was very good to me. But if you want to look at my numbers, you can say whatever you want about them. I don’t mind. It’s just that my role was something that being filled in 2008 allowed us to get to the playoffs and before I got hurt in 2009, we were still in the hunt.
(My question: Did Seth McClung post that comment himself? We know he reads Brewer blogs, specifically Brew Crew Ball and that post was linked from Brew Crew Ball with the words "For the second straight day, I'm including a mention of my Seth McClung poem - sorry. But this time it's worth it, because Miller Park Drunk knocked it out of the park dissecting my effort and producing one of his own." I mean, if you were Seth McClung you'd click over. You know you would. You'd probably Google yourself, you googler.
To take it a step further and I hate to go all conspiracy theorist on you guys, but that comment came from a Tampa Bay area IP address and McClung did spell playoffs like "play offs" in his farewell post. Just saying.)
Anyways whenever someone's role can be referred to as "the janitor", the odds are he isn't irreplaceable. If a team is looking to save some money to go after some free agents then "the janitor" making more than league minimum should be the first one to go. That's just the way it goes and that's the way it should go. Why? Because if you want your team to be successful they have to do whatever it takes to save money and spend it wisely. As great a guy as he was and as well as he filled his role, it's not wise to spend too much money on Seth McClung. That's life.
Seth McClung represents exactly what it's like to be a baseball fan in the 21st century. You like someone and then they leave. Whether they leave because the team can't afford them or the team doesn't want to afford them, they always leave. It's pointless to get attached to players, especially role players, because they won't last. The days of Robin Yount playing his entire 20 year career for the Brewers are over.
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder will leave.
Todd Coffey will leave.
Gallardo will leave.
Escobar will leave.
One day, even Brett Lawrie will leave.
Unless you are in one of the major markets you can't afford to tie up too much in any single player and even then there is always another team out there who can out spend you. Being a baseball fan isn't about your favorite player on your favorite team anymore, it's about your favorite team and whoever happens to be playing for them right now. Guys like McClung are a casualty of this system because I truly believe that if the Brewers offered Seth anything he would have re-signed because he really wants to be here, but the Brewers couldn't do it. He wasn't in their plans and they couldn't fit him in their budget. I'll miss Seth McClung, but I'm glad we have a guy like Doug Melvin running things that understands that we shouldn't be re-signing Seth McClung and that we shouldn't be offering arbitration to Felipe Lopez. We can't do those things. Not if we want to compete.