I went to bed last Wednesday night giddy with joy knowing that the Braves (my favorite MLB team) were on the verge of a trade to acquire borderline superstar Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks. Reports from that night indicated that the Braves had made a “strong offer,” but there wasn’t any detail on which “strong” Braves were a part of the proposed package. All rumors that I read involved one of Atlanta’s stud pitching prospects and a handful of young position players. Nothing I’d miss.
When I woke up Thursday morning, everything had changed. The trade was completed and the Braves had acquired Upton. Great news right? Except for the dark cloud: one of the big pieces leaving the Braves was Martin Prado, my favorite player. Prado was not included in any trade rumors leading up to the deal and was considered by most to be completely off the table. It was an abrupt and unexpected end to my relationship with Martin.
My fondest memory of Prado came from the Braves’ last visit to the Bay, when he pulled off an ultra-rare feat that should go down in baseball history as “the Prado”: starting all four games in a series at a different position. How do I say goodbye to what we had? But enough about the player-fan relationship I had with Prado, I have a very real problem at hand right now: I have no favorite baseball player. What’s the big deal? Prado is still the same ballplayer he was a week ago. Should I be forced to feel differently about him just because he plays for Arizona now? The short answer is yes, the long answer is the rest of the post.
I’ve been a fan of the same baseball team since I was super little. I used to love Tom Glavine. I would stay up late watching him paint the corners on TBS and I didn’t think I could ever feel that way about another baseball player. And then he signed with the goddamn Mets. Of all teams, he went to the inner-division rival! It was cool, Rafael Furcal was exciting to watch and, while the dropoff from a Hall of Famer to Furcal wasn’t logical or easy, I transitioned the favorite player tag to Furcal. Then to Jeff Francoeur. Then Yunel Escobar.
I don’t want to sound like I play loose with the “favorite player” title. Prado and I had something special that I haven’t felt since the original days with Glavine. He was every Brave’s favorite teammate. He was the ultimate team-first player, capable of hitting at any spot in the lineup and playing every position in the field. The guy was even the third string catcher last season! It’s like he sat down with the manager before every game and said, “you field seven other players and I’ll take care of the rest.” And he did it a near All-Star level. Prado, unlike Furcal, Francoeur and Escobar, is someone who can’t be replaced so quickly.
While I believe in the rarity of Martin Prado, I believe even stronger that a fan’s favorite player has to be from his or her favorite team. No exceptions. Otherwise, there are split loyalties and you can’t really ever get all in. When it comes to the team vs. player debate, there’s a simple rule: teams endure, players don’t.
While I feel deeply upset to face the rest of my baseball fandom without Martin, I’ll endure. I’m a fan of the team, not a stockholder; it’s my job to be supportive no matter what. Every team makes a trade becasue they see more value in the new assets than the old ones, and the value of Prado only highlights how great Upton can be. Besides that, an outfield with Upton, Upton and Heyward is probably going to produce an insane amount of internet fodder. Here are some of my favorites right now:
There’s always a silver lining to a trade, you just need to find it. Here’s to hoping memes can fill the Martin-shaped hole in my heart.