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Breaking: Zack Greinke is a normal man, motivated by normal things

Dec 13, 2012, 8:35 AM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers new right-handed pitcher Greinke speaks at a news conference in Los Angeles Reuters

One of the most unfortunate yet unintentionally hilarious things in baseball over the past several years is everyone playing armchair psychiatrist for Zack Greinke.

Yes, the guy took some time off several years ago with an anxiety issue. But, since then, he’s been talked about as if he suffers from some rare and strange disease that has turned him into a cross between, I dunno, Commander Data and a shambling mass of emotion and nerves rather than some guy who, like a ton of other people including a lot of people you know, have some issues with anxiety and depression from time to time.

You could see some of this chatter when Greinke was going out on the free agent market. People talking about “fit” with him in ways they don’t talk about it with other players. People wondering if he’d be more “comfortable” in Texas as opposed to Los Angeles or if, bless his fragile heart, he had better go back to Kansas City or Milwaukee where everything would be OK.

All of which makes his reasons for picking the Dodgers more fun. From Fox Sports’ Joe McDonnell:

Zack Greinke said that when it came down to choosing the Dodgers over other teams pursuing him, it was all about the money.

The new Dodgers right-hander said that he was leaning toward joining the Texas Rangers before taking the Dodgers’ offer of $147 million over six years.

“The negotiations changed,” he said.

Was it the money that put the Dodgers over the top?

Greinke smiled and said: “That’s what it comes down to at the end.”

Like Bogart said: he’s just like any other man, only more so. In this case: normal and honest.

Now, can we please stop treating Greinke like he’s an alien?

 

  1. clarenceoveur - Dec 13, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Good for him. Drives me nuts that its OK for everyone else in world to pick job with more money, but MLB players have to say its about winning or the school system or whatever.

  2. jarathen - Dec 13, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    I’ve often felt that fans overreact to his emotional history. I know we think 99.99% of athletes are completely level-headed, regular human beings, and Zack Greinke is some strange outlier (much like his peripheral SABR stats), but he’s just, like the article says, a normal guy, and when you’re making your biggest free agent signing for your entire career, with a chance to make some real money and feel that validation, does it REALLY matter where you end up?

    I think Zack Greinke is good for baseball. He’s honest and forthright, much moreso than most athletes who talk like Brendan Fraser in Bedazzled (yeah, I saw it once) every time someone asks them a question. He’s a competitor and a very good pitcher. That’s all that matters in the end.

    Well, that and money.

    • coloradothistle - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM

      He’s as normal as any other pitcher. That said, they’re all a little wacky.

      • jarathen - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:57 AM

        Anyone who willingly stands 60 feet away from a guy whose job it is to crush a ball as hard as they can with a stick and then steps FORWARD to throw the ball to them has to be a least a little wacky.

  3. yankeepunk3000 - Dec 13, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    no no no you miss understand you see most people choose the money because its a way to survive when for example pujols chose the 245 million instead of the 225 million well that’s just plain feeding the ego…I notice now more then ever people baby these idiots because of how.much money they make and how we would do the same blah blah blah…in reality its not the same 99% of us will never touch that kind of dough and we have every right to treat them like aliens or complain or whatever we so.damn please…people get. over it these guys are set for life I think a little fan criticism is fine…they will :'( survive I think!!!

    • escapingexile - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:08 AM

      At the end of their career, who is going to be there for these athletes? Not you, not me, not any other fan. If I was ever blessed enough to make a choice between 225 and 245 million, you’re damn right I am taking the 245 million. You know why? It takes a special kind of fool to leave 20 million dollars on the table somewhere. That 20 million is going to be setting up one more generation of his family for life. Is the amount of money athletes gets paid absurd? Well, yes is the simple answer. But the detailed answer is more like we are worth whatever someone is willing to pay us. The fact is, the owners pay them this money because that is how much money the athletes are generating. Envy is by no means a reason to treat someone however you damn please.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:17 AM

        It takes a bigger fool to think that the difference between $245M and $225M is worth sacrificing happiness in your personal life. When you have 2 options that will both set you up for life (and Pujols was already set for life, already having made over $100M in baseball salary and many more millions in endorsement deals), you personal life should be the tie-breaker, not some irrelevant sum of additional money. Most people wind up regretting such decisions because they realize that the extra money didn’t make a difference, but their choice in job was a net negative for them professionally and personally.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:37 AM

        Awwww, paperlions went for the intangibles. :)

      • paul621 - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:53 AM

        Paperlions: Why do you assume Pujols is or will be unhappy with the Angels? Maybe he didn’t sacrifice any happiness and just got $20 mil. extra.

      • kopy - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:04 AM

        Intangibles make a difference. I’d even be selfish about it. I’d rather set up the next 5 generations of my family and be happy than set up 6 and feel unfulfilled. Screw my great-great-great-great grandchildren. They’re probably brats.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:10 AM

        Happiness and fulfillment are most definitely tangible.

        Pujols now spends 1/2 the year living away from his family. He’s also persona non grata in StL (where he still lives) when he could have been local legend and all-time Cardinal great (now, he’s just a guy that played great for 11 years and then left for more money, much of which he’s losing due to playing > 1/2 his games in CA instead of MO), and the Angels are second class team in LA (despite signing Pujols and Wilson, they had their lowest attendance since Moreno bought the team)…..but then, when Jesus tells you to follow the money, I guess you don’t have a choice, do you?

      • Detroit Michael - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:47 AM

        If the Cardinals had offered $225M before Pujols became a free agent, I believe it likely he would have signed with the Cardinals. Instead the Cardinals made it clear that competitive pressure was needed to get to their final offer and Pujols may have draw the inference that the Angels wanted him more than the Cardinals did.

        Maybe the Cardinals were being shrewd (one year into the Angels contract, Pujols is already looking overpaid) but I wouldn’t blame Pujols for not re-signing with the Cardinals. It’s their own fault.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:04 AM

        That’s the thing. It is one year later and everyone is ecstatic that the Cardinals didn’t wind up re-signing him. It isn’t a question of fault, it is a question of what Pujols put value on during his negotiation. He put all of the value on gross dollars (not even net), and didn’t value anything else. So now, he has the money (about the exact same amount he would have had anyway), but he definitely lost. His stature (though not the statue out side his restaurant) in StL is gone (and his ego needs stroking), and such stature will not be forthcoming from Angels fans.

      • Reflex - Dec 13, 2012 at 7:43 PM

        1) Pujols was never offered $225 in guaranteed money by the Cards. Afterwards it came out that the top offer was $189 mil, which is a lot of money, but considerably lower than the Angels offer. Secondly, other aspects of the deal were superior, such as the ten year personal services contract that will take effect upon retirement. The Angels went out of their way to make him feel wanted, and then made it tangible in the offer they made him, in more ways than just the money.

        2) Why do people assume that his quality of life is worse in Anaheim than St Louis? Its entirely possible that his quality of life is superior. Milder winters, more upscale communities, cultural differences that he may prefer. Plus a huge metro area thrilled that the best player in the game signed with thier team.

        3) If after 11 years of being the best player in the game for a substandard salary, multiple pennants and two world series rings are not enough to make him never have to buy a beer for himself again in St Louis, then St Louis fans are some of the biggest assholes in baseball. If this is really true, then all the Philly fan bashing needs to cease, there is a new contender in town and they wipe the floor with the Philly fanbase in terms of being assholes. Seriously, this would be the dumbest reaction ever, and quite frankly I don’t think their loyalty would be something I would care to have.

    • phillyphreak - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      Yea. It’s almost like baseball players have a skill set different from us regular folk that happens to be in a bagillion dollar industry. Let’s pile on!

      • escapingexile - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:33 AM

        @paper- In this example, I don’t really see any major drawbacks where we would be talking about sacrificing happiness. Neither the Angels or Cardinals are horrible teams to play for, so it’s not like the choice was to sacrifice the potential of winning over 20 million. Different lifestyles of course between the west coast or the mid-west, but neither of which is horrible. As an athlete, I would imagine the sacrifice comes into play in a small amount of situations. Maybe going to a perennial loser may not be worth 20 million to some. Maybe inviting the media scrutiny that comes with playing in say a New York or Boston might not be worth 20 million to some. Or maybe playing for a quirky manager or ownership group might not be worth it to some. But none of those factors really come into play in the example provided.

  4. legacybroken - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Can we lay off the class warfare rhetoric. We get enough of it in the regular news we don’t need it baseball talk.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      Quiet down front!

  5. dkphilly1122 - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    At least he is honest unlike most other athletes who give BS answers as far as why they picked where they are playing. At the end of the day it all comes down to money, athletes and us regular people.

  6. natslady - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Eh, “normal” is overrated. (Honesty is admirable.) Greinke needs to be a good pitcher and a good teammate–and apparently he’s both. As for “leaving money on the table,” people do it all the time. Wasn’t there a player who left a promising MLB career to become a monk? My father was smarter than the average bear, but he was happier outside of the 9-5 world, so he left a bunch of money on the corporate table to be his own boss and have a happy marriage. He didn’t set up the next generation (his kids), and that doesn’t bother me at all–we can earn our own way in the world.

    • jarathen - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:36 AM

      I think of McKay Christensen, an Angels first-rounder who went on a two-year mission as part of his religion and never amounted to being any kind of ballplayer.

    • jwbiii - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      Natslady, Grant Desme

      http://sports.yahoo.com/news/from-prospect-to-priest–grant-desme-leaves-the-a-s–becomes-a-monk-and-tries-to-find-his-peace.html

    • paul621 - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      Natslady: I don’t mean to make any presumptions about your background, so I say this a general statement to the overall populace: Where you start in life often makes a big difference when it comes to wanting to set up the next generation. For me, I’m “setting up” the next generation of my family simply by being middle class and being able to afford a house in a good school district, regardless of what inheritance I leave. For many ball players, who grew up in poverty and perhaps had no access to education, I can understand the desire to ensure that the next generation never goes without. So, if Greinke wants to rake in as much as possible for his kids, I’m not going to question that.

      • natslady - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:56 AM

        I 100% agree on this, paul621, and I did grow up middle-class in America, which is a tremendous privilege. I have absolutely NO problem with any baseball player, including Adam LaRoche, making the maximum amount of money out of the limited resource he has, namely his major-league career. I was responding to the commenter who said it is “special kind” of foolish to leave $20MM on the table. People make different choices. Some people choose for “now,” some for the future, and some for future generations.

        Players (and other people) throw unbelievable amounts of money away on cars, houses, etc. So if a guy wants to make $20MM less to play on a certain team, or in a certain place, what is the difference between that and throwing away a gazillion dollars on fancy cars, houses, and pretty ex-wives?

  7. yahmule - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Is it any wonder people who are suffering from any kind of genuine mental or emotional issues are reluctant to seek help? They know a large percentage of individuals will stigmatize them for life.

  8. jaybird22seven - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    This is a non story. Who cares already. This is another case of an over paid pitcher.

    • jarathen - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      This is just a case of market dynamics. Best pitcher on the market, team flush with cash.

  9. sdelmonte - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    So here’s a question: has any athlete ever said, “I signed with the team I wanted to be with the most despite the money because there isn’t much difference between $10 million and $15 million?”

    • paul621 - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Cliff Lee said something to that effect when he signed with the Phillies (over the Yankees), but the particulars of how much he really left on the table seem to be up for debate.

    • El Bravo - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Jared Weaver said pretty much exactly that last season when resigning with the Angels. He said something along those lines after this past season too. He said if they resigned Greinke for way more dollars than he was getting, that he was okay with it b/c it makes the team better. Greinke, although appreciably honest, thought otherwise and was more about the money is noted above. Nothing wrong with that, but I do like the Weaver types out there b/c they just ain’t that common.

      • sdelmonte - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM

        I like to think that I would resist the call of More Money.

        But no one has ever offered me anything like that, so how knows?

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:47 AM

        I’ve lived a lot of places in my life….some I would never move back to….some I would move to in a heartbeat. I love living where I am right now and have stayed regardless of the fact that I could make more money and have a more high profile position elsewhere. Maybe I would enjoy living somewhere else as much or more than here….but you can’t tell until you live there, and I really enjoy living in the hills of eastern CT.

        I guess if you haven’t lived anywhere but where you grew up, perhaps you don’t understand the importance of where you live compared to what you make.

  10. Andrew Chapman - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    You see, he’s not a machine! He’s a man!

  11. lostsok - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    He’s never going to make for a good sound bite. He’s a likable, quiet, go-about-his-business guy.

    And, apparently, business is good.

    • thereisaparty - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      I find Greinke to produce his fair share of hilarious sound bites. Interviews with him are often hilarious. And I’m not quite comfortable calling him likable. He was known to be aloof during his time with the Royals (though he might be more open now). I am a huge fan of Greinke, but he is a bit of an enigma (ignoring the SAD).

  12. a125125125 - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Please quit treating this weirdo like a weirdo.

  13. norcaldeportes - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Overpaying for nearly every player on your team creates an atmosphere of complacency and entitlement (see: Yankees, Red Sox, Cowboys, Eagles, etc).

    • nategearhart - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      See the Franceour post. Who cares if they feel entitled and complacent as long as they’re winning? And if they are not, are you really going to blame it on entitlement?

  14. thereisaparty - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    I feel like calling Zack Greinke normal is doing the man a disservice. He accepted his Cy Young by saying, “That’s how I try to pitch, to keep my FIP as low as possible.” He is an avid player of World of Warcraft. This past season, he threw a 55MPH curve to an opposing pitcher on a full count.

    From Joe Posnanski:
    “‘Zack,’ a teammate once said to him, ‘I’m having this charity golf tournament. Was hoping you might play in it.’
    Greinke paused, as if considering the request. Then he said, “No. Why would I do that?”
    The teammate shrugged, laughed, walked off. Just Zack being Zack.”

  15. westcoastredbird - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Grienke called out Chris Carpenter as a phoney when he was with the Brewers. Dude you will never have the heart and balls to be a playoff pitcher like Carp. This contract with the Dodgers will let us see who the real phoney is! You’re not in Kansas City and Milwaukee anymore. The Dodger press is a little more aggressive than the Angels. This whole team with their payroll might choke.

    • thereisaparty - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:26 PM

      This is why everyone hates Cardinals fans. This post has nothing to do with the Cardinals yet you had to find a way.

      “The heart and balls to be a playoff pitcher.”? What does this even mean? Greinke and the Brewers made the playoffs in 2011. On account of him not having a heart and/or balls I guess. And yes Greinke called Carpenter a phony a long time ago. Because Carpenter always seems to be around when a Cardinals contrived controversy arises. Let it go. Greinke is a seemingly pleasant human being who plays a game wearing a different jersey than the one you wear to Busch Stadium.

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