Thank you Michael Young for showing me what a selfless professional athlete looks like. It is sometimes hard to get a picture of that in this “show me the money now” sports world we live in.
You may have heard, earlier this offseason, Young waived his no-trade clause and accepted a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. He is expected to become their regular third baseman for the 2013 season. It is hard to imagine Young without TEXAS written across his jersey and a blue hat with the signature T stitched on it.
Young did what was best for his career and I do not blame him for leaving. He wants to receive regular playing time and, at age 36, that was not going to happen in Texas. He would have been a designated hitter as a Ranger this upcoming season, though not a full time DH. He would also have seen very limited playing time in the field with the emergence of young stars Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt.
True franchise players are rare in number. With athletes seeking the most money for their contracts and the best opportunity to play everyday, it is hard to find a player who has only been with one team his entire career. Young fit that mold until now. For 13 seasons he was the face of the Texas Rangers. He provided stability in the middle of the Rangers lineup day in and day out. He never asked for a day off and never complained about anything, even if it was not an ideal situation.
Young was asked to change positions two times for the betterment of the team. He joined the organization as a second baseman but moved to shortstop in 2004 to make room for Alfonso Soriano. In 2009 he was forced to move again to give prospect Elvis Andrus a chance to play. He was not happy about the second transition and made that publicly clear, however he also realized it was what was best for the organization. And if there’s one thing we have learned about Michael Young’s philosophy, it is put the team before yourself. Always.
How did Young perform in those transition years? In 2004 he hit .313 with 22 home runs and 99 RBIs. In 2009 he batted .322 with 22 HRs and 68 RBIs. I don’t think he let it affect his play. Selfless.
Every sports team needs that one person who will step up and be a leader in the clubhouse. The Phillies found their guy.
Young may be playing in a different venue to end his career, but he is still and always will be “Mr. Texas Ranger.”