Oh Where Have You Gone, Tony Gywnn …

    Sports legends spending an entire career with one team are very special. It is also increasingly rare.

    This is why Tony Gwynn should either accept the San Diego Padres’ most recent contract offer, or he should retire from baseball. He should not go to another team.

    It used to be that sporting legends would spend their whole careers with one organization. A star would stay with a team until he broke down, then retire and be immortalized forever by that team.

    Now, in this time of free agency and today’s crazy sports economics, players jump around more than a hyperactive child on a pogo stick. Most players chase the big bucks or hopes of a shiny championship ring. Loyalty by both the player and the organization has been shot to hell.

    There are some cases today of players staying with their teams through thick and thin. Baseball Hall of Famers George Brett and Robin Yount stuck with the Royals and Brewers, respectively, throughout their careers. They should be commended. On the hardwood, Magic, Michael and Larry all stayed with the same club. On the gridiron, Dan Marino played for the Dolphins, and only the Dolphins, and John Elway did the same for the Broncos.

    Before retiring, Marino could have gone to Minnesota, but instead opted to play golf on Sundays.

    Players rarely succeed in trying to jump start their careers in another city while their sun is setting on their playing days.

    This is what Gwynn is trying to do. He still wants to play. You can’t blame him, it’s in his blood. Baseball is a part of his DNA, as is his competitiveness. But Tony, it is time to hang up the uniform.

    Can he still play? Well, in the field, that is an almost definite “”no.”” His age and his knees won’t let him go chasing after balls in the outfield like he did during his Gold Glove years.

    The question still exists of whether he can still hit. The answer is yes and no. When he is healthy, he most certainly can. Last season, he beat the ball all around the diamond when he got a chance, but he sat out most of the season with injuries.

    The Padres are trying the best they can with Tony. They offered the aging right-fielder a $1 million contract with numerous incentives that can jack his pay up even more.

    Still, it is not enough for Gwynn. It is not the money — he wants an opportunity to play full-time, which he won’t receive from the Padres. So, he is entertaining offers from other clubs.

    What is happening between the Padres and Gwynn can almost be suicide for both. Gwynn may unfairly be labeled as greedy, when all he really wants to do is play the game he loves. For the Padres, Gwynn is the last thing they have that is appealing to the fans.

    Him playing for another club would be a public relations nightmare.

    Tony Gwynn with another club? It could happen. I hope not. It would just not seem right.

    Tony, please retire and bask in the glory of being one of the best hitters in baseball history.

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