A question of loyalty vs. greed

Let’s say you have a really cool job, but another company comes along and offers you twice as much money for the same kind of gig.

The only drawback is that you’ll have to move to another city, but that city is pretty cool, too. And your family is cool with moving.

You take the job, right? Of course you do.

Now the big question: Does that make you greedy?

If you answered no, you just forfeited the right to complain when a free agent from your favorite team signs elsewhere for a fat raise.

If you answered yes, you can stop reading now. This column will only infuriate you.

If you answered no but still think multi-millionaires are greedy for looking to add to their riches, you’re one of the many fans still clinging to the romantic notion of loyalty in professional sports. And while that’s understandable to an extent, it’s not realistic to any extent.

The fan in everyone would like the cheers and love and support showered upon our favorite stars to mean something. We want our stars to be like Tony Gwynn, who turned down lucrative opportunities to remain a San Diego Padre for life.

Well, guess what? There aren’t many Tony Gwynns in the world. Get used to it.

Going for the dough is the American way, and there’s no sense fighting it.

Now, some of you who answered no but still want to bemoan the evils of free agency might think comparing an AverageJoe to Joe Superstar is ludicrous. You might be thinking, “Doubling my salary from $50,000 to $100,000 represents a significant lifestyle change. How much can an athlete’s lifestyle change if he goes from making $7 million to $14 million?”

It’s not a bad question, actually. But the answer is one that might — probably is — hard to swallow: Lifestyle is relative.

For you and me, a bigger salary surely represents a more significant lifestyle change. It might mean the difference between renting and buying a house, whereas for an athlete it might represent the difference between renting and buying a jet.

But it does represent a difference, and it’s ludicrous to fault anyone for wanting it. Loyalty doesn’t exists in professional sports anymore. Gwynn retired in 2001, and we

haven’t heard of any athlete giving a true hometown discount since.

Houston is Roger Clemens’ hometown team, and even he made the Astros pony up $12.25 million for about 14 weeks of work last season.

Does that make him greedy? No. Like it or not, it merely makes him a capitalist, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com.

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