Many Oakland A’s fans suffered immense disappointment with the no-show of right fielder Josh Reddick at the team’s FanFest last Saturday, Feb. 8.
Although there’s wide conjecture and gossip that his absence was in vengeance due to him being at odds with A’s management for not yet settling on a contract and entering arbitration later this month, one would expect someone who in past years was a fan favorite – the master of the walk-off win celebratory pie-in-the-face and Spiderman costume – to put that aside and attend the event with his teammates to greet fans and kick off the 2014 season.
Reddick did apologize on Twitter later that evening posting, “Hey A’s fans. Sorry I couldn’t make it out there today. Just didn’t work out for me this year. Ready to get back to winning another AL west,” but he did not explain his absence.
Reddick, who turns 27 next week, is going into arbitration for the first time in his career and is in disagreement over the team’s offer of $2 million and his own $3.25 million request.
Those that attended FanFest saw firsthand the A’s magical team chemistry that has resulted in them finishing strong throughout the last two seasons as players talked and joked with each other and the fans, welcoming newcomers on board, and displaying a public sense that they genuinely seemed glad to be back together again.
That camaraderie is essential for winning, especially for a young team, and makes the difference between a team in the playoffs or watching them in October. The “Bernie” dance after wins, clubhouse antics, and on-field celebrating walk-off wins was a big reason a team with little hopes in 2012 and 2013 turned out to be a playoff contender. Teams that are successful always seem to be smiling, laughing, playing jokes, and remaining loose in good times and bad.
I’ll be the bad guy here and come out and say it (and hopefully I’m wrong about Reddick). This game is a team effort, on AND off the field. The A’s don’t need someone who will be looking out for their own interests ahead of the greater good of the club, the fans, and city they are representing—whether they are sulking, through their style of play, or their self-seeking behavior elsewhere.
If Reddick, a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012, doesn’t prevail in arbitration it’s likely to be due to his struggles in 2013. His homerun production fell by 20 from a whopping 32 in 2012 to only 12 in 2013. He hit a depressing .226 – last in all regular MLB right fielders – with only 56 RBIs. With two stints on the DL with a wrist injury, causing him to miss 37 games, Reddick underwent surgery in October and is expected to be fully healed.
And if he doesn’t prevail in arbitration, fans and teammates had better not notice any resentments or grudges. After all, $2 million for someone last in the league in batting for your position is nothing to sneeze at.
When players look out for the team over their personal tiffs, success usually follows. Reddick’s glove and powerful, accurate arm help give the A’s one of the best defensive outfields. Offensive production aside, if similar disruptive behavior reoccurs, Craig Gentry may find himself in a starting role for the sake of the team.
While this error in judgment is forgivable, just don’t let it happen again.