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The trouble with being a fan. Players and owners treat the game like a business

Posted at 4:47 PM on July 9, 2007 by Tom Scheck

Let me be clear. I love Torii Hunter. I love his defense. I like the fact that he questions his teammates about their commitment (see Mourneau a few years ago and Mauer this year). I also like that he swings at first pitches (Well, maybe that makes me grimace a bit).

But here's what I don't like. Hunter treating every major league city like a potential job interview. Here's the deal (in case you live under a rock) -- Hunter is a free agent this year and is in demand. His latest comments came over the weekend to the Daily South Town on how well he plays in Chicago. That's after his comments to the New York media here and here about his love for Yankee Stadium and how the fans know the game. There's also discussion about him going to the Rangers.

This story may show one reason for Hunter's self professed joy for all of these great ballparks. It basically says the Twins are reluctant to negotiate with Hunter. This comes at a time when Hunter is in the top tier of free agents to be.

Now I'm old enough to know that dollars and cents play a factor in the decisions that players and ball clubs make. But it still stinks. Imagine being an eight year old kid who loves to see Torii flying around center field in the Metrodome? What is he/she supposed to think when Hunter leaves for another ballpark? It makes me wonder whether a fan's loyalty stays with the team that does everything it can to win (see Red Sox Nation, see Yankees owner, see Dallas Cowboys, see Detroit Red Wings).

This leads to the next question: Will the Twins trade Torii for some prospects? Sigh. All of this Torii talk makes me yearn for a more stable situation like, say, Johan Santana. What? He's a free-agent next year? Are the Twins more like the Yankees or the Royals? That palace behind the Target Center could get awfully lonely if Joe and his sidekicks (or should I say sideburns) are the only ones playing.

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