by Matt Wells
Imagine this, if you will: you’re doing what you love to do. You’re getting paid $10 million to perform your dream job. You’re also one of the best at what you do in your field.
Then, why complain? Ohhhhh, I get it. You’re Alfonso Soriano – the Terrell Owens of football. Soriano has already made Jim Bowden the laughing stock of GMs, the Washington Nationals the laughing stock of the league (for now), and he has made himself the butt of sports jokes everywhere.Alfonso Soriano is a second baseman by trade. He played second base when he was with the New York Yankees, and he played the same position with the Texas Rangers.
This is the same Alfonso Soriano who averaged over 35 homeruns and 133 RBI over the past 4 seasons, 2 with New York and 2 with Texas. He was the All-Star Game MVP in 2004. Soriano is also one of the top second basemen in the game.
So, what’s up with Alfonso Soriano?
Well, Mr. Soriano has been ordered to play left field for the Nats, who are already heavy at the second base position. Soriano has refused. That’s right, someone getting paid $10 million to do the “simple” task of playing another position is pouting. He’s pouting a lot.
It seems that Soriano doesn’t want to play left field. He wants to play second base, and ONLY second base. There’s one problem: Washington’s second baseman goes by the name of Jose Vidro.
Now, sure, Vidro was hurt for most of the 2005 campaign. In years past, however, Vidro put up respectable numbers that peaked in 2000, when he hit 24 homers and drove in 97. Surely, any major league team that has a hole at second base would love to have a Jose Vidro.
Soriano is implicitly telling Vidro to move his rear and vacate the second base position. However, Vidro has been in the Expos/Nationals organization since 1997, meaning that the Nationals would probably side with their veteran rather than some newcomer.
Soriano won’t play anywhere but second base; however, other players in the past (on different teams, of course) have been asked to switch positions. These players switched positions without giving too much lip back to management.
Let’s briefly take a look at 3 players that come to mind in recent baseball history that had to switch positions:
CHIPPER JONES, Atlanta Braves – Chipper, a third baseman by trade, was asked to move to left field for long stints in 2002. Jones would be an everyday left fielder for the 2002 and 2003 seasons, where he would commit just 7 errors in each season. For a third baseman, I consider 14 errors in 2 full seasons to be pretty darn good. Jones’s productivity at the plate wouldn’t be hurt either: he’d hit 53 homers in those two seasons.
TODD HUNDLEY, New York Mets – I felt for Todd Hundley, I really did. Hundley was one of the more popular Mets back in the late 1990s, especially when he broke the then-record for homeruns by a catcher in a season (41 in 1996). The Mets needed help in the outfield, and they asked on their catcher to help fill the void. It was a nightmare for poor Todd Hundley as routine fly balls became adventures. In 34 games in left field, Hundley committed 5 errors. If one were to project that out to 162 games (in a season, of course), Hundley would have committed close to 24 errors. As you all know, 24 errors is a heck of a lot for an outfielder. Yet, Hundley never lashed out at the Mets management and went out there with a brave face. Good man.
CHUCK KNOBLAUCH, New York Yankees – Knoblauch was a second baseman, and a darn good one, for the Minnesota Twins before coming to the big apple. While in New York, Knoblauch’s defensive prowess would steadily decline to the point that throws to first base were adventures. One throw sailed into the stands and nailed Keith Olbermann’s mother in the head…but, I digress. Knoblauch was asked to play left field, and he was decent, committing just 5 errors in 182 games over two seasons. (The second season was spent in Kansas City). By the way, do you remember why Knoblauch was moved to left field? IT WAS DONE TO KEEP ALFONSO SORIANO’S BAT IN THE LINEUP. Can you say “co-in-ced-ence”?
So, Alfonso Soriano was happy to play second base in New York at the expense of Chuck Knoblauch. It’s about time Soriano should return the favor to someone else. But he’s not willing to do the same thing with Jose Vidro in Washington. Two words: Grow Up.
Now, some may blame Nationals GM Jim Bowden for not doing his research before acquiring Soriano. Bowden was so eager to enhance his reputation that he wasn’t listening when Soriano told him that left field wasn’t an option. This goes under the heading of doing your research first before jumping into something you find exciting and potentially beneficial.
Now, the Nationals are looking to put Soriano on the “disqualified list.” To steal a line from Jim Rome, this is the “T.O. List” of baseball. Soriano would not get paid, nor (obviously) would he play. There’s one thing that’s for sure: Soriano’s mouth would be running more than it is now. That can’t be good.
It’s time for Soriano to step up to the plate, bite the bullet, and do what he’s told. Chipper Jones did it. Todd Hundley did it. Chuck Knoblauch did it…FOR SORIANO! Now, it’s your turn, Alfonso.
Stop whining and do what you’re told. Just shut up and play.