For me, the saddest part of being a fan is watching players who were huge contributors to your team decline to the point where they can’t help the team anymore.
Reading the board, there seem to be a lot of fans for whom the players are just playing units who are fungible, to be discarded without a second thought when their parts wear out. But I’ve never seen them that way. I see them as people, who have worked very hard to perfect their craft, who have close relationships to their teammates, and who in certain cases have contributed a tremendous amount to the success of the team over a considerable period of time.
That’s why it’s killing me to watch Chris Tillman and J.J. Hardy this year. I want so badly for them to rally and put together a season where, even if they’re not as good as they used to be, they can still be seen as contributing to the team. And nearly halfway through the season, I know that it’s not likely to happen, and that at the end of the year, it will be time to part ways with them. And yes, I know it’s possible that the team would be better off parting ways with them right now, instead of waiting until the end of the year. That still could happen, especially with Tillman if he can’t find a way to get more hitters out. But as I said, I really hope it doesn’t come to that. I’ll be watching watching Tilly today and rooting for him to find a way to keep the Rays at bay. And if he can’t, I won’t be mad. I’ll just be sad. I’ll never forget that he and J.J. were huge contributors to an enjoyable period of Orioles baseball, who were good teammates and did everything they could to help the team win. They’ll never be just worn out playing units to me.