Mike Trout is now the highest-paid player in professional baseball. He is receiving an obscene amount of money — $426 million over 12 years — and yet no one has argued that it’s too much money. That’s because just about everyone agrees that Mike Trout is the best ball player alive right now, quite possibly the best in the game, ever. His performance in his first seven years puts him in a class with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb. And now, this weekend, he has signed a twelve-year contract that makes him an Angel for the rest of his ball-playing life. A what, you say? An Angel. A heavenly Angel? No, a Los Angeles Angel. A Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Angel. You’re kidding. The best player of all time is an Angel? Not a Yankee, or a Red Sox, or even a Dodger? He could have waited two years to become a free agent and sign with anyone he wanted, and probably for more money by then, but he chose to stick with a team that still hasn’t figured out what city it represents.
Why do you suppose this is? He’s a one-team kind of a guy. “Spending your whole career with one team, I think is pretty cool,” he said. That’s not a very common thing anymore. Anymore, you go with the money and the prestige. Trout decided to go with family.
But the Angels have been a losing team the last few years. Since Mike has been with them, they have been in the playoffs only once and they got swept in their first three games by the Kansas City Royals. No matter. This is where he wants to be. He likes the team; he likes the owner; he likes the front office; he likes the fact that they picked him and gave him a chance to play. (He got passed over by 21 teams until the Angels picked him in the 25th round.) And then he said this: “It wouldn’t have felt right moving to another team, going straight to a winning team. Teams go through ups and downs. I want to be part of everything.”
That sounds a little like my life. How about yours? Ups and downs? Yes, but don’t you want to be a part of everything? Don’t you want the whole package? Following Jesus isn’t just about ups. It’s about ups and downs. Actually, it’s usually the downs that teach us the most.
So Mike’s going to go with a losing team because he wants to be part of the ups and downs. So they’re down now. If they go up, he wants to be with them. If they go down he wants to be with them. That’s pretty remarkable.
How about you? Don’t you want to be a part of everything?