I’m every gifted athlete’s holy grail. There is fame—and then there is Me. Travel in my company and know that my outsized brother, Expectation, comes along for the ride. Ask Albert Pujols. He courted Me with all the fervor of some young Shakespearean lover, only to see Fortune turn his back on him almost before the next spring thaw.

Joey knows.

I bring with Me the wrath of scribes and spectators alike. Accomplishments are as yellowed as old newsprint. Injuries from a bygone campaign are invoked. Yesterday’s benchmarks are nothing before Me. Lies become truths. Motives become impure. Feel free to question the gifted eye, the brilliant synapses, the relentless baseball intellect. All is fair in glove and WAR.

Consider the misunderstood Walk, drawn from the pitcher with all the effort of summoning blood from the proverbial stone. The four-tenths of a second between pitcher’s fingertips and catcher’s pocket precisely measure the cruel, singular moment that separates the great hitter from the forgotten player. In that crucible lies the fate of every would-be major leaguer from Billings to Pawtucket. How could you, average Horatio, ever hope to comprehend such feats?

Joey knows.

He strides into the pitch, driving the man on base from the first corner to the hot corner. Yet, it is another who reaps the glory, scoring the run with a replacement level swing beaten into the infield turf, forever recorded in the Book—the exalted Run Batted In. Without a doubt, there are more things between these foul poles, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your RISP-driven philosophy.

So, unburden your mind of the absurdity of it all and release the hounds. Dispatch from your thoughts all objective measure that tells you Joseph Daniel Votto is producing another season of most valuable-like proportions. Fie on thee, Plate Discipline. Because of Me, that is no longer enough. To him I have given much. In return, he must humble himself before the madding crowd.

Freedom and crippling Judgment are my twin attendants. There cannot be one without the other. Above all, I must have my pound of flesh.

I’m the Money.