Commentary

One season, one million decisions

A season is a grind, with countless choices -- unless you want to be kept in the dark

Updated: March 25, 2011, 11:30 AM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine
ESPN The MagazineThe season is built on a million decisions, but many players prefer to be kept in the dark.

This story appears in the April 4 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

On the first day of spring training this year, a Phillies pitcher ambled into the clubhouse for the first time and glanced around the room, looking for the locker with his nameplate over it. Once he found it, he dropped his backpack inside, changed into the shorts and T-shirt that hung in front of him and headed into the serving area for a bowl of cereal. He sat down and munched wearily, like a sheep chewing cud.

The player probably didn't know how his locker location was chosen or where the food he was eating came from. Most guys don't ask those kinds of questions. There are millions of decisions made over the course of a season that affect players, but most of those choices are made by others -- out of sight and out of mind. "Ignorance is bliss," says one general manager. Like a lot of executives, he wouldn't be quoted on the record for this story because he didn't want players to think he was demeaning them.

At a time when NFL players are engaged in a fierce labor war and their NBA counterparts might be on the verge of one, the stars of major league baseball are free to focus on the game between the lines. And they don't seem all that interested in much else.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine