With the way he started the season, and with how quickly he was getting booed by the home fans in Milwaukee, he could have just packed up. He still would have collected his exorbitant salary, only he would have been completely forgotten about by everyone.
Instead, Gagne continued to work through the boos and the gopher balls. He's actually posted pretty good numbers since the All-Star break. Still not justifying that salary, but he's been better, and there are signs he could be effective on this team should it advance to the playoffs.
Gagne also showed a classy, appreciative side today. It's a side of him we didn't know existed, and it's a side that makes all the booing, yelling, heckling fans look like complete jerks.
Gagne footed the bill for 5,000 tickets to Thursday's Brewers-Pirates finale and then gave them away to fans via Brewers.com. The supply of seats was gobbled up in 20 minutes, according to the team.Pretty damn cool.
..."It's not every day that you get to see us try to get to the playoffs," Gagne said. "In Milwaukee it's been what, 26 years? It's something special and I wanted to give a chance to see more people get to see it.
"I'm a fan of the game, too, and I don't like to see empty seats," Gagne said. "All the kids here deserve that chance to come. I remember having to sneak into Olympic Stadium [in Montreal] even though it was $4. It's expensive to come to a game. ... I like doing something that's spontaneous."
Also cool: Gagne's reaction to the booing he's heard all season.
"I haven't really pitched that good. Look at my ERA (5.59)," Gagne said. "I've booed a lot of Canadian hockey players in my life, so I know how it is." Make no mistake, he hears the boos. He views them as a challenge. "But I've had more than my share of cheers in my life," Gagne said. "There's ups and downs in a career, and the fans want to win. It's been 26 years here and they're pretty interested. They want to get to the playoffs and they want to win. ... I don't think they boo the person, they boo the performance. It's nothing personal." Gagne has donated $200,000 to Brewers Charities this year for a variety of causes this year. A $50,000 chunk went to the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes against Childhood Cancer), the largest single donation in that organization's history. "I try to donate to the kids because I have four really healthy children and I was really fortunate," Gagne said. "I was in a position to [donate] ... and I am in a good position to do something. I know it is not much compared to how much money we're making."You have to respect a man who appreciates the position he's in. Gagne did something nice for a fanbase that is starving for a playoff run.
I don't know what the future holds, but this is the kind of guy you want on your team. In a town like Milwaukee, he can be a real ambassador for the organization because of his willingness to help out and make a difference off the field.