One of my friends, the kind of which I have a hard time writing at any length at all without mentioning somehow, once told me after a mutual friend's untimely funeral that he was raised to never speak ill of the departed... even if all you and the departed ever did was not worth mentioning in polite crowds.
With Michael Young's farewell press conference Tuesday, Wednesday is the first day in the last decade-plus that Young is not a Texas Ranger. So the term 'departed' (although in a drastically different sense than my friend used it), fits. And, in respect, I won't speak ill of him (which, all know, I have done extensively in the past).
So, I don't come to bury Michael Young, but I come not to praise him, either. Rather, I hope to speak soothing words, to soothe the ragged nerves of the Rangers' fan who is wearing his finest black today.
Put simply, today the team is better for having moved Mike Young and his place in the franchise outside of the franchise. That's not to say Young is so bad of a player that subtracting him is an automatic addition; he still has a significant amount to offer and it wouldn't surprise me if he put up a two-to-three wins (above the average replacement) this season for Philly this year.
What I am saying is this; Young the player had little-to-nothing left to offer the Rangers on the field, where his glove and his bat had both lost their spots in the pecking order.
That wouldn't necessarily erode what many view to be his main contribution -- namely, his influence and leadership in the locker room. It's extraordinarily rare for the captain of the team to also be the 24th man on the team.
Those things are important. Maybe with just a bit more of them, and the Rangers wouldn't have ended their season in a cough of smoke and weak flames this year. But, in the order of importance, those fall orders of magnitude behind skills as a baseball player.
Maybe you disagree, and that's fine. If so, indulge me the following thought exercise:
You get two teams, both of which are the 2011 Texas Rangers.
The first team has the exact same skillset as the 2011 Rangers, except one player (take your pick of which one) has the same amount of intangibles and leadership skills of Mike Young. You get a second Face of the Franchise, with all that entails, behind the scenes. That's Option A.
Option B is the exact same 2011 Rangers, but Nelson Cruz is one or two steps faster back and to his left, or Neftali Feliz has just another inch of sink on his fastball.
Which one do you choose?
Many will discuss in negative terms the financial aspect of this deal, and I'll admit, the prospect of paying another team $10 million (more or less) to accept your player is suboptimal at it's nicest. However, consider the alternative: Paying Young $16 million to be a part-time player that you can replace (with possible higher upside and ceiling) for $1 or $2 million.
Even at the upper end of that spectrum (and beyond what I propose), the Rangers are saving money and getting the same performance.
And, sure, Young's leadership will be missing. But this team has Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and Joe Nathan as locks to come back, with Colby Lewis on the periphery. And that Yu Darvish guy carried a whole country on his back for more than a half-decade. Carrying the weight of an MLB team should be a relief to him, not added burden.
In the end, we can all mourn for the end of an era, and save the debates for whether the timing was appropriate for another day.
I've lifted at least one glass already today to a career that I should remember far more fondly than I ultimately will. But there are steps beyond that first, and when you're ready to take that, I'll be here to walk with you.
Joe Ursery isn't, like, literally there to walk with you, unless you work with him or hang out with him or are, like, his family or something. But the next best thing is to follow him on twitter via @thejoeursery, where friendship and good feelings flow 140 characters at a time, seven days a week.