Can you believe this story from the Big League Stew Y Sports Blog? I know every story has two sides, but in this day of alleged steroid use and other serious misconduct in sports, the Washington Nationals penalty may seem highly unfair, especially considering the circumstances.
"On Saturday, Washington outfielder Elijah Dukes was benched,
fined $500 and threatened with a demotion to the minor leagues
after he showed up to the park a mere five minutes after the team's
usual reporting time."
Duke's excuse for being five minutes late would seem to qualify him for an exception to the rule: he was doing charity work for the Nats at a local Little League. But, Manager Manny Acta explained that the penalty was given because Dukes had broken a team rule and "we are going to change the culture here." The 1-10 Washington Nationals have gotten off to a terrible start.
Reportedly, Dukes was very remorseful about showing up late. By the way, he has been one of the bright spots on the team hitting .323 with two homers and six RBI's in nine games. Still, as a player on a team in the midst of another bumbling season, the manager has decided that a rule is still a rule.
I feel sorry for Elijah Dukes, who most certainly is a victim of circumstance. Losing in sports, especially on the professional level, may call for stricter discipline from management, but this penalty was certainly fueled by a generally poor performance by the entire team and their coaches. Certainly, this miscue won't end Dukes' promising season, but I doubt if the penalty will endear management to the players or the Nats' fans
I wonder what the Little League response may be. As the organization stresses character building and community involvement, I doubt that Dukes will be viewed now as anything less than a vital help to their operations. I can't imagine the thrill of having a major leaguer involved in a youth league.
Please, Mr. Dukes, don't end your voluntary involvement with Little League because of this stern reaction to your five minute tardiness. I hope you have a great season helping the kids and helping your professional team. You truly have "taken one for the team" as the cliche' contends.
P.S.- Check out the jerseys worn by Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn in Friday night's game.
Maybe someone else should be fined for slipping on the job.