Monday, April 21, 2008

Frank Thomas and Hideki Matsui

Yesterday's paper carried an account of a tirade by Blue Jays DH Frank Thomas, objecting to his not being in the lineup for Saturday's game. My reaction was to contemplate what a cancer a selfish "me-first" player like this is to have on your team. Now, today I see that Thomas and the Blue Jays have already reached a mutual agreement to part ways. The Jays will still owe him $8M for this year, but will save the $10M they would have owed him for next year had he attained the number of plate appearances required for his next year's contact to kick in.

Certainly the Jays responded correctly by getting rid of this cancer in their clubhouse. Something like that cannot be allowed to fester, because it poisons the atmosphere for the entire team.

I can't help thinking of another player, Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui. Matsui apologized to manager Joe Torre when he made an error, after going more than a year without making a single error. Then, when he hurt himself making a play in the outfield, he again apologized to Torre.

This would be unheard of for an American player. I am not saying only Japanese players can be good teammates, for their are plenty of examples of players of other nationalities who are good teammates. But certainly the Japanese have a better concept of teamwork, and we have much to learn from them.

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