Sorry, I don’t have to appreciate the way Josh Lueke has “persevered”

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Rays’ reliever Josh Lueke was charged with rape, pleaded out to a lesser charge and did 42 days in prison. As far as I’m concerned he’s human garbage, even if some baseball teams think it’s worth still employing him because of his fastball (which hasn’t been able to get anyone out, but that’s another topic).

So forgive me if I’m not on board with a blog post, the premise of which is essentially “Josh Lueke may have raped someone but being good at baseball offers him redemption of some kind.”  Really:

You can hate Josh Lueke’s guts, but you have to appreciate the way he has persevered through the critical mistake he made and all the opportunities that have passed him by … as Lueke finds success for the first time at the major level, we’ll be captivated by his dominating arsenal, and justifiably or not, his past will be forgotten as Rays fans watch him help their team win games.

No, I don’t have to appreciate that at all.

As for the second part: sadly, yes, some people may forget that because as we’ve regrettably learned so often of late, it’s amazing what people will forget or even forgive if you happen to be good at sports. But the truth is that sports are not a vehicle for moral or ethical redemption. They are games, no more, no less, and the noise in the linked post is the logical extension of our society’s fetish for grafting narratives onto said games.

If there is such a thing as redemption for a rapist like Leuke, it comes via one’s acts in the real world. The price they pay. The things they learn. The efforts they make to redress the damage they’ve done and the efforts they make to prevent such damage from being done again. It is measured by the true character of the person, not their athletic accomplishments. I don’t know Lueke or anything else about him besides his rap sheet and his B-R.com page so I’m not the arbiter of his soul, conscience or ethical self, but I do know that flinging a baseball well or even being a good clubhouse citizen — something the author also gives Lueke credit for – is completely irrelevant with respect to that stuff.

As for the author: pro tip: if you ever are again inclined to write something which basically says “this guy may have raped someone but sports …” just stop. Please. Don’t even consider it.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?