Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nationals' Players on the Hot Seat

Two recent additions to the Nationals are on the hot seat for very expected off field problems. Elijah Dukes has been charged again with domestic violence and Paul LoDuca faces obvious flack for his past involvement with steroids.

The Dukes matter is nothing new and occurred before he was introduced as a National, but is still disturbingly recent. This young man has anger issues that habitually appear when he is put into stressful personal situations. I very much like him as a player, and respect that he is participating in off-season workouts to acclimate himself with the team. I just hope that he is truly convinced and has internally decided to face these issues. The best way the Nationals can succeed in 2008 is for Dukes to be healthy and on the field. With stunts like this, he is not only jeopardizing his own future, but the future and success of the entire organization. Quite selfishly, because I want to see our team win, I want Dukes to pull himself together, stop making inappropriate angry off-field decisions and play baseball. If he can do that, and show fans a mutual respect for us and our passion to see the team win, then I'll have a more compassionate investment in him as a person.

I mention Paul LoDuca, but only as a preface to a larger steroid topic that has been ignored by most writers. Sally Jenkins in the Wash Post wrote about a double standard against Barry Bonds and Marion Jones. She cited underlying racial disdain as the cause of their perceived villainy, but I strongly believe that she misses the point entirely.

While Jones is an Olympic matter who are always very harsh with their punishments, Bonds' indictment stems from his greatness and majesty. It's not racially motivated or a comment on the continued bigotry of our times but a reaction against broken trust, shattered dreams and boyhood betrayal. Growing up as a young baseball player you look to the legends of the game with awe: Ruth, Mantle, Aaron. There are great pitchers, but for every envious fastball there are dozens of hitters that inspire our imaginations and draw us to the game. There is just something very special, very pure and innocent about hitting a baseball. So while there are many different players that we now look down on because they hurt themselves and the game, LoDuca, the reason Bonds holds a special place on baseball's blacklist is because he hurt us fans the most. He struck at the heart of what every boy wishes they could accomplish and while he broke the record I will never call him king. The reason punishment comes down so hard on these two is because they were the best, but in reality they weren't. If you don't deserve to wear the crown it's a long fall from the top of the mountain.

- The Hokie


Yard Yoder said...

off subject but...It's too bad the nationals are so clogged up at the corners, Mcphearson from Anaheim was made a free agent this week. Seeing as the nats love going after cant miss prospects that missed, it would be fun to see what a guy like mcfearson could do with 450 at bats.

On the other hand...he doesnt beat his wife or do steroids...he may not fit in

DMG said...

I doubt Bowden will noticed because (1) McPhearson is not a former Red and (2) they're too busy calling Denny Neagle to try and get him out of retirement

Yard Yoder said...

apologies to the lady who recently filed charges on Duke...she was not his wife...just a girlfriend