Unsurprising news came today that Jim Edmonds, who had yet to report to spring training, decided to retire. The injury to his foot that ended his campaign last year still has not responded to treatment.
Subsequently, baseball message boards and Facebook pages lit up across Cardinal Nation with expressions of gratitude that Edmonds “retired as a Cardinal.” HUH?
Their reasoning is based on the faulty idea that, since Edmonds technically signed a minor league contract with the club, his retirement means that he does so as a Cardinal. They cite Isaac Bruce’s return to the Rams (and subsequent retirement fifteen minutes later as a Ram) as “proof” that Edmonds’ situation is similar and worthy of the same honor.
NOT AT ALL. First of all, Edmonds’ contract with the club never came into force because Edmonds couldn’t pass the physical required to complete it. And one cannot compare the Bruce situation with Edmonds’ because Bruce was TRADED to the Rams while still employed as a player in order for him to retire as a Ram. Edmonds was not employed by any team. Edmonds was only offered a minor league contract because he had been bugging the team to let him try and reach 400 home runs, and the team realized the marketing value of that. Edmonds has not been employed by the Cardinals since 2007.
Beyond that, it’s supremely annoying that Cardinals fans can let their nostalgia blind them from this obvious fact: Edmonds CHOSE to play for THE CUBS in 2008 in order to get retribution against the Cardinals for trading him. It was a gutless and cheap maneuver that deserves scorn, not tributes. He badmouthed the organization in the press that year. Since leaving the team, he has played a selfish brand of baseball that is quite out of line with the Cardinals tradition. In many ways, Edmonds has done quite a bit of damage to the glorious legacy he compiled here.
I understand the urge to welcome home the prodigal son who acted rashly and foolishly. Forgiveness is a wonderful quality in anyone, whether it be a person or a fanbase. But honesty is a valuable commodity as well, and no honest fan can really believe that Edmonds retired as a Cardinal today. He didn’t.