Fans of major market sports teams always hear about whether or not big-name players acquired via free agency or trade will "adjust" to the big-time nature of the market they're entering.
It's sort of a vague and nebulous concern—what does that mean? Too many people? Too much media? Too much pressure?
All of the above?
Enter the wild world of the Boston Red Sox' clubhouse in the aftermath of the Collapse of 2011. As Chad Finn of the Boston Globe reported, there were two very stark contrasts in that locker room following the Red Sox' 4-3 season-ending defeat at the hands of the last-place Baltimore Orioles.
Adrian Gonzalez decided that the responsibility belongs on the shoulders of ESPN, Major League Baseball, those that make the schedule, and, of course, God.
That entire thing is a little bit troubling. Plenty of people have religious beliefs and plenty of people believe in God, but the act of somehow excusing oneself from responsibility based on "God" is one that seems to project an inability to hold oneself accountable for anything.
"I'm a firm believer that God has a plan and it wasn't in his plan for us to move forward," Gonzalez stated after the game.
Gonzalez continued, "God didn't have it in the cards for us."
If the Red Sox missing the postseason was merely a result of "God didn't have it in the cards for us," then is there anything for which one can ever be counted on to take responsibility?
There's a lot of stuff going on in this world and it seems to me that baseball and the postseason hopes of the Boston Red Sox would be an odd thing for "God" to be dealing with.
Then there's this quote:
"We play too many night games on getaway days and get into places at 4 in the morning. This has been my toughest season physically because of that. We play a lot of night games on Sunday for television and those things take a lot out of you."
When the Globe's Peter Abraham pointed out that both the Red Sox and Yankees, as high-profile teams, have long had these challenges in their schedules, Gonzalez replied, "Why does it have to be? They can put the Padres on ESPN, too. The schedule really hurt us. Nobody is really reporting that."
This is perplexing for a number of reasons. Didn't Adrian Gonzalez leave San Diego because they couldn't afford to pay him top dollar? Perhaps Gonzalez has a fundamental misunderstanding of economics, but the reason that the Red Sox could pay him $154 million is, in part, because of those EPSN games.
That's the way it works. That's why the Red Sox are a major market team and San Diego isn't.
San Diego could have spent some money on Gonzalez. He could be living in San Diego, but he'd probably have had to settle for a paltry salary of under $15 million a year. Of course he wouldn't have to deal with all those pesky night games and national television appearances.
Life is actually a series of choices, Adrian.
Every choice has potential positive and negative consequences. Gonzalez's pursuit of greater visibility and a higher paycheck does come with a few negatives; that's life and that's a life that many would gladly accept.
Too many night games, too much travel. These aren't really the types of gripes that most people want to hear from someone making more money in a year than most people will see in a lifetime.
Contrast that to outfielder Carl Crawford, who, in spite of likely being present on every list of biggest goats of 2011, seemed more than up to the task of dealing with the season-ending fallout.
"I know what kind of season I had. I know what I did," he said. "I have to go back home and live with that. It's going to be a tough offseason for me. I have to come back and prove myself."
Crawford is spot-on right.
He should and will have a long offseason. Red Sox fans would welcome a Carl Crawford that resembles anything even close to the one Boston thought they were signing this offseason.
As for Adrian Gonzalez, he'll come back and likely have another fantastic season next year. It will probably be playing for the Boston Red Sox, who will probably be in the midst of another playoff hunt.
In the meantime, maybe God can teach Gonzalez economics, and also the ability to appreciate what one has in the long offseason.