More sanctimony from the media. This time Jeff Pearlman of SI.com is chastising Beltran, Castillo, and Perez for not visiting Walter Reed. The thing is, according to Pearlman, those three don't realize how precious and short-lived a thing fame is, and so now they're just being self-centered.
Here's the thing, I'm not really interested in defending the players for not making the visit. That said, I don't want to psychoanalyze them as though they come over, sit on my couch, and tell me about their feelings on a regular basis. We can all sit here and opine about how horrible and self-centered they are, divining their motivations from afar, but none of us knows these guys to begin with, including Pearlman (though he's probably met more of them than most of us have).
My bigger issue, however, is the spectacle of a guy who makes a living by treating athletes like the center of the universe chastising athletes for thinking they're the center of the universe. These guys throw and hit a ball for a living. Pearlman devotes his life to writing about guys who throw and hit a ball for a living. He's part of that population of hagiographers we know as sports media (in fact, he takes this column as an opportunity to extend the hagiographies of Torii Hunter and a few others). If you think athletes think too much of themselves, devoting your life to recording their exploits may be a bad way to go of convincing them they owe us more.
But that's the issue, isn't it. The athletes actually don't owe us anything. The fact that they get paid millions to play a kid's game, or that we pay $40 for a ticket (Pearlman must be getting discounted prices) to watch them play, doesn't create a set of obligations to the fans, or the soldiers, or the babies, or anyone else. In fact, thinking so really only suggests that we think of ourselves as the center of the universe. To say the athlete owes us something simply because they make millions doing something we want to watch is to increase our own level of self importance; to make ourselves central. We are in some way slighted when athletes, who have nothing to do with us, don't act in the way we think they should. Maybe Beltran, Castillo, and Perez should've been at Walter Reed, but if so it's certainly not because they owed us, or the soldiers for that matter (I know, it's politically incorrect but it has to be said), anything. If the only reason we can come up with for why it's wrong that they weren't present is that it somehow insults us, or elevates them above us (and let's be honest, the soldiers in this story are really just a stand-in for us, the regular joe), then we are dealing with our own self-centeredness, not theirs.