Self Worth and What We Can Learn from Major League Baseball Players

Sure, sports players earn millions of dollars, but as the old cliche goes, money isn’t everything. We see repeated cases of players, actors and musicians, each of whom have earned millions of dollars leading down the path of drugs and illicit affairs just to get a rush.

Therefore, there needs to be a balance between earning a solid living and the feeling of self worth, like you provide value to the employer you’re working for. Otherwise, you feel worthless despite your riches.

This can come in different varieties.

  1. You work and work and work and the boss takes all the credit (happens most of the time), then get shuffled around.
  2. You feel you’ve done everything to help your organization move forward, and you feel the appreciation, but you don’t see it growing.
  3. Your job takes you away from more important things like family time, which makes you question your priorities.

Being a Major League Baseball (MLB) fan, I find three players that stick out in fitting these molds perfectly, Michael Young, Roy Halladay, and Andy Pettitte.

Michael Young, Texas Rangers

Save for the money (who doesn’t like money), not a lot of people envy Michael Young’s position. Drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2000, he has been a consistent force in a sea of change over the last 10 years for the Rangers. A man with integrity, Michael Young has played the game without any allegations of HGH Steroids or the like. His batting average is above .300, he normally hits 20+ home runs per year, and can field multiple positions. So much so that he has played second base almost exclusively for 3+ years, then was moved to shortstop, and then 3rd base. Recently, with the acquisition of Adrian Beltre, the Rangers once again asked him to switch positions, this time to 80% Designated Hitter (DH), 20% in a super utility role.

Originally he was all right with the change, but that wasn’t his ideal role. After giving it some thought, he finally requested to be traded recently. The moving of positions, along with empty promises and behind the back actions has caused Mr. Young to feel “manipulated and misled.” In his own words:

“I want to be traded because I have been manipulated and misled in this process and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Who can blame him?

Nolan Ryan’s Rangers are the ones who brought about this process. Since being in the World Series last year for the first time, they let pitcher Cliff Lee get away and allowed Vladimir Guerrero leave via free agency to the Baltimore Orioles. It seems that the front office is too far behind in handling player relations in 2011.

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Update – August 4, 2012: The result was the Rangers getting into 2 straight World Series.

 

Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays

Roy Halladay also epitomizes good old fashioned hard work and values in my opinion. Brought up by the Toronto Blue Jays to the bigs in 1998 (5 years after the Jays won a World Series), Roy Halladay has proven over time to be a sturdy, complete pitcher who strikes out players, throws complete games and sometime shutouts with relative regularity in this day in age where the bullpen has taken on a larger role, and tries to stick with one team through thick and thin.

However, until 2010 Roy Halladay and his Blue Jays didn’t even get into the playoffs, let alone the World Series. After 12 years and seeing no effort by Blue Jays brass to develop new players, Halladay said to them that while he loves Toronto and the fans, he’s not getting any younger and really wants to a) pitch for someone who has a fair shot at the playoffs and possibly World Series, and b) see how much money he could make in the open market.

Who could blame Roy Halladay? He worked hard for 12 years without seeing team results. Also, as impressive as his numbers are, they could have been even better had he had better run support.

So, the Blue Jays granted his request and traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies. For the first time in his professional career Roy Halladay got to pitch games that truly mattered. He even pitched two no-hitters, one of them being in the playoffs. 2010 was perhaps arguably the best season of his career, and in no small part was it due to self worth.

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Update: Halladay pitched 2 no-hitters, won a Cy Young award, and a World Series entrance since then.

Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees

Andy Pettitte pitched most of his career with the Yankees, won 5 World Series with them, and was in the playoffs almost every year where he became known as a “big game” pitcher. Yeah, he made millions of dollars as well. However, he also realized that with each season pitching, he was another year removed from his family which was growing up and slowly growing away from him. His kids were getting older and progressing into adults, and his wife wasn’t getting any younger, either.

Andy made the decision to not let life slip away from him while he was devoting his time and energy to the Yankees. With 240 wins and lots of memories, here’s to you, Andy, for devoting the rest of your life to those that truly know your value.

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Update – August 4, 2012: The result is that he reappeared a year later only to get injured mid-season.

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