As often happens, though, one thing kind of sticks out for me and got me to thinking. When describing his release from the Red Sox in 2007 and subsequent pickup by Philly, the subject of World Series rings came up:
His karma was on target. As a result, he added a second World Series ring to his collection; last season, the Red Sox players voted to give Romero a ring even though he didn't finish the season with them.It's easy to forget, as we sit back here in Internet, radio, and television land, that players don't view the world exclusively in terms of good player/bad player the way analysts do. Romero walked a bunch of dudes and wasn't as effective as he needed to be over 23 games for the Sox in 2007, and by any objective measure, he was not helping them all that much towards their second World Championship. Sure, he had an incentive-based contract with Boston so on some level it was a business decision to release him, but if he had been effective for them, he would have been on the team all year. I'm virtually certain that if a panel of outside experts were the ones who decided who got 2007 World Series rings for the Sox, Romero would not have.
"I feel like I earned this one," he said. "Although, I have some good friends with the Red Sox, and one of them is Big Papi (David Ortiz). He called me the other day and told me that I earned that (Red Sox) ring. He told me, 'Don't forget the 20 games you gave us. You were just the victim of a business decision. You were a part of that team.'"
The players obviously felt differently, however, and I for one am very glad they did. Not that I care a rat's patootie about Romero, but then again, that's kind of the point. On some level players are meat to us fans. We get excited when they do well, get upset when they do poorly, and get reflective when they finally leave the game and later life, but they really are just meat, and we rarely if ever think much about the personal stuff they go through during their careers.
Romero was signed before the 2007 season. He had to move his family across country, and that obviously affects people. Because of the signing, someone else didn't make the Red Sox team. That obviously affects people, including but not limited to the best buddy of the last guy cut. He didn't pitch all that wonderfully, and that affects people too. On a day to day basis he talked, joked, and maybe even fought with folks, all of which affects people in ways good, bad, and indifferent. None of that really shows up anywhere, and no one would bat an eye if Romero hadn't gotten a 2007 ring. But the Red Sox players wanted him to have one. Not out of pity and not out of charity, but out of an appreciation of Romero just being Romero and being there and being part of their months-long struggle.
There's so much more to a baseball season than any of us realize, and the guys inside it don't view it in the same way we do. I try to remember that when I write about players and what they do, but I often forget it. So does everyone else.