Bock’s Score: Loyalty is a One-Way Street


Baseball fans are passionate about their teams. Baseball players, not so much.

Baseball fans buy all sorts of team gear, wear uniform shirts proudly, spend freely to support their team and suffer the slings and arrows of defeat quietly.

Baseball players bail on their teams as soon as their contracts permit.

Today’s example is Jacob deGrom, considered by many to be the best pitcher of his generation. He was a proper successor in that category to former Mets Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden.

DeGrom signed a fancy five-year, $137.5 million contract in 2019. It included the dreaded opt-out clause, an escape hatch that permits the player to walk away from his commitment. DeGrom pitched two full seasons, won his second Cy Young Award and then broke down half way through the third.

Not to worry. He would be back healthy and ready to go for season number four — until he wasn’t.

DeGrom broke down again in spring training and missed the first half of the 2022 season. When he returned there were exciting flashes of his former brilliance and distressing flashes of failure. Most memorable was a game in Oakland when the Mets handed him a three-run cushion in the top of the first inning and he gave the dreadful A’s four runs in the bottom half of the inning.

He was also part of the three-game sweep that Atlanta used in the season’s final week to take the Eastern Division title away from the Mets. He finished his half season of work with a 5-4 record and 3.08 earned run average, distinctly mediocre numbers.

And then he bailed out of his contract, leaving the 2023 season’s $30.5 million behind in search of greater riches elsewhere. Never mind that he missed a chunk of two seasons on his existing deal. Never mind that he has logged 11 different injuries in the past two-plus seasons. Never mind that he had 34 candles on his last birthday cake, a shaky age for a power pitcher like him.

Forget all those negatives. He is a shiny new toy for other teams to consider and somebody will grab it. That someone might even be the Mets, who have huge holes in their pitching staff with most of their arms now free agents.

But after his team stood by him through all the aches and pains, maybe deGrom could have bypassed the opt-out and showed some loyalty to the team.

Are you kidding?



About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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