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Don't blame Alex Gordon if he doesn't return

If the Danger Ox leaves, it is his legitimate choice.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

David Glass bears a striking resemblance to Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars lore. Both are the ultimate masterminds behind their organizations, both are rich, and both are powerful. Though Dayton Moore is directly in charge of much of the baseball operations, his career was fueled and funded by David Glass, just like Palpatine did for Darth Vader.

The story of David Glass is really the story of Palpatine in reverse; Palpatine ended years of war in his rise to power, corrupted the government and brought oppression upon the empire, and was overthrown by a passionate Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile, Glass took over from a passionate Ewing Kauffman, brought oppression and losing upon Kansas City, and then ended years of drought to create winning and peace.

And if your eyes glazed over as soon as the words 'Star Wars' appeared on your phone in the first paragraph and you decided to get off the toilet and go back to work, well, maybe that's your problem for disliking fun and/or metaphors.

Regardless, the 'David Glass as Evil Ruler' trope is a common one for Royals fans, a trope that only recently has evaporated as the wins have piled up and the losses have skipped away under Yuniesky Betancourt's glove into the oblivion.

Alex Gordon, the Royals' best and longest-tenured player, is a free agent. He will sign somewhere and make Scrooge McDuck-swimming-through-gold levels of cash. In 2016, Gordon will make more money in a single day than many of us will in the entire year. He will do so by being extraordinarily fit, running around on a randomly-shaped grass field, and practicing hand-eye coordination by swinging a tree corpse at a sphere of cow in order to win a game that children play for fun.

Gordon wants to stay in Kansas City, and Kansas City wants Gordon. But the terms of each entity may not settle easily, or at all. Gordon will take a large deal, and it may not be for the Royals. If he does so, many will blame Gordon for unnecessary selfishness. Sure, Glass could open his wallet more to allow for a signing of Gordon, but it isn't that simple; Moore has a say in the matter and offering a gigantic salary to Gordon may not make baseball sense.

So the blame for Gordon's departure should it happen will fall on Alex Gordon himself. He will be criticized for seeking money rather than seeking happiness. The man who signs Gordon's checks, the one who is many times wealthier than the entire Kansas City Royals roster, will get a free pass. This, frankly, is ridiculous. Gordon is not a selfish prick if he signs elsewhere. No, Gordon is seeking what is best for his family, as every last one of us would do in his shoes.


Numbers are hard--not math itself (though for a disturbingly large amount of our population math is a plague to be avoided), but numbers. It is extraordinarily difficult to wrap our minds around numbers larger than a few hundred or a few thousand.

One million is a very large number, and it's hard to understand just how large it is. One million people is a few hundred thousand more people than were at the Royals parade and rally. One million miles is 40 times the circumference of the earth at the equator. One million spiders is an apocalyptical nightmare. Our simple conceptual understanding of the magnitude of one million anything is limited, and we need examples in order to help us understand.

The lack of ability to understand and relate to big numbers is especially true when it comes to money. Most of us make tens of thousands of dollars in a year. A few readers might make a six-digit income, and even fewer will make hundreds of thousands of dollars in a year. Gordon will sign a deal that will give him tens of millions of dollars, more money than multiple generations of your family is likely to make in their lifetimes.

Gordon has made $41 million in his career to date. If I had $41 million, I could do a lot of really stupid things and still have more money than I knew what to do with. Rupert Grint, the actor who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films, famously bought an ice cream truck as one of the first purchases from his fortune. That kind of flippant spending is totally foreign to us, and the realities of being a millionaire means that Mr. Grint could buy another dozen ice cream trucks the way we might splurge on buying a new video game from the Steam sale we might not ever play.

So on a base level it is very difficult to conceptualize Gordon wanting, say, $100 million over $80 million. After all, that's equivalent to taking a job for $40,000 a year in a place you love rather than moving to get $50,000 somewhere else.

But, again, that's a problem of recognizing just how big of a difference that is. 'It's only 20%,' you might say to Alex. And Alex would reply with, 'It's also a $20 million difference.' Keep in mind that $20 million is a ton of cash. That's 800 brand new Toyota Camrys worth of cash, and would represent 14% of his career earnings.

The second problem with criticizing Gordon for seeking more money is that baseball players don't have the same salary structure as the rest of us. Gordon is likely to retire by the time he is 40 years old. Ex-MLB players, especially for successful guys like Gordon, have options open to them after their playing career closes. But none of those options will pay him $100 million over five years. For Gordon, what he gets in 2016 will be the last paycheck like this he can seek for the rest of his life.

Finally, and this is something that we should at least be able to understand, the extra money Gordon gets in this contract will help give his family financial security. By getting a few million more dollars, Gordon can help his children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren the opportunity to pursue what they want in life with less financial burden. Few individuals get the opportunity to protect their families like that.


But even if Gordon was entirely selfish and wanted more money for himself...who are we to blame? Would anybody blame you for taking a job that gave you $10,000 more per year? If they did, why would you care? Gordon can lead his life how he wants. He is superbly talented at baseball, and if he wants to make as much money as he can because he wants to, that is his legitimate choice.

Before the 2012 offseason, Gordon signed an extension with the Royals. If he hadn't done so, he would have been a free agent after the 2013 offseason and would have been able to accrue an even larger deal in free agency. He would have left before the Royals' first playoff and World Series appearance in 29 years and their first World Series victory in 30 years. But he did not. He has already signed a team-friendly deal, and it cost him millions of dollars.

Alex Gordon owes the Royals nothing. We as fans owe him everything. Every player-fan relationship must end. If Gordon wants to move on, we ought to let him.