Contract negotiations are subtle dance of seduction and wordplay. Both sides occasionally peck at each other during these early stages, but for the most part all we’re going to get from either party is assurance that they want to “get a deal done” despite that really, this could move quickly and suddenly in any direction at all.
That is why at this point, outside influences can be so, um, influential. From the outside.
Los Angeles is pretty outside of Philadelphia, but seeing as it is located in the heart of Cole Hamels country, LA has been considered one of the chief competitors’ full Cole’s affection as his contract dries up. Long were the SoCal days of Cole’s youth; the sun simmering on the horizon over the endless Pacific blue; the impromptu night surfing contests that would break out during a festive beach bonfire; the horrified screams in the dark as everyone remembers sharks come much closer to shore after nightfall.
And I can see Cole right in the middle of it, as like the leader of a gang or something. Not a physically intimidating gang, mind you, but certainly a fashionably intimidating one. One whose goal is to like, make new kids in town feel uncomfortable and call Old Man Fargus a “pussy” when he warns them not to go surfing at night.
Like anyone, Cole probably has a firm attachment to where he grew up, and as a star athlete, he undoubtedly sees the appeal in using free agency to be showered in praise and money. As a desired quantity, he can have a contract drawn up that demands he be showered in whatever he wants. The point is, Cole has said he would remain in Philly. But, like all of us are extremely aware, there are plenty of reasons not to.
One of those reasons is the massive injection of cash the Los Angeles Dodgers just received. After spending a season as the Official Punchline of Major League Baseball, the Dodgers are ready to be a team again, under the leadership of stars like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Yes, those people were on the team last season, too. But what wasn’t there last season was the two billion fucking dollars Magic Johnson just paid to buy the team, along with a bunch of other partners who never played in the NBA and so naturally do not matter.
So now, Cole can look across the country and not only reminisce about the lazy beach days and panicked MedEvac helicopter rides of his youth, he can see a team bursting with cash and itching for relevance. He’d be joining a partially formidable rotation in which he wouldn’t be pressured to lead in the spotlight, and he’d most likely receive money in exchange for his efforts. Probably a lot of it.
Then, he turns around and sees Ruben Amaro giving him a lowball offer in the latest step of a 90-part process full of head games, falsehoods, and emotional warfare. Doesn’t seem like much of a choice, if it became one.
The good news is, however, that speculation, hyperbole, and made up stuff on this web site don’t factor too much into the Cole Hamels negotiations. He will play 2012 in Philadelphia, and at the moment, that is all that matters. However, another moment awaits us at the end of all of this, and recent developments may have just made Cole a little more homesick.