Saturday, August 17, 2013

Define "Selfish."

One of the promos I recently heard on Sirius/XM MLB Home Plate features a comment by Jim Duquette. I like MLB Home Plate; it's pretty much all I listen to on the radio. And I like Duquette. I may not agree with everything he says, but he has an interesting viewpoint that he articulates well. More importantly, he's obviously a good father. So I'm not going after him.

But in the promo, he talks about players who received Biogenesis-related suspensions. I'm paraphrasing here, but he says that they're selfish twice. They're selfish once because they took PEDs, and selfish a second time because they didn't appeal their suspensions, thereby robbing their teams of their services during the pennant drive. The implication is, selfish guys are not good teammates.

I didn't hear the piece from which the quote was drawn, but I assume Duquette was talking about Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz. (Jordany Valdespin and Jesus Montero, to name two, weren't exactly contributing to the Mets' and Mariners' pennant drives, respectively.) The Rangers are in a tight race and he's probably been their best position player outside of Adrian Beltre. Had he appealed his suspension, he probably could've played the entire second half of the season. Then, assuming he'd still get a 50-day suspension, he'd serve it from the start of the 2014 season. But he's also a free agent at the end of this year, and having him sit out the first 50 games of next year would clearly diminish his value. So yeah, taking the suspension now works to his advantage.

But selfish? Well, taking PEDs to enhance one's performance certainly serves one's own ends, but the team benefits as well. Cruz hasn't played since August 4, but he still leads Texas in home runs and RBI and is second in total bases and third in hits. Didn't the Rangers benefit from that performance? The Black Sox and other guys who threw games for money--they were selfish. Guys who show up to the ballpark hung over and can't play, they're selfish too. They put themselves ahead of their team. But the PED abusers, well, they may be acting selfishly, but they're taking their team along for the performance-enhanced ride.

And as for not appealing the suspension, sure, the optics are lousy, what with his impending free agency. But if he's clearly guilty of violating MLB's drug policy, wouldn't appealing the suspension be selfish as well? Alex Rodriguez is appealing because he thinks a 211-day suspension is excessive and arbitrary. What would Cruz's appeal be based on? That he doesn't want to stop playing this season, and the appeals process offers him a loophole? Isn't just as selfish as taking his medicine?

Call him a cheater, call him a scoundrel, call him a lot of things. I just have a hard time calling him selfish.

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