Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Quite the bizarro story out of baseball, which is prone to the occasional bizarro story.

The Washington Nationals are terrible. As of this writing, they sit at 2-11, and not much is going right.

Center fielder Elijah Dukes even managed to take a benching Saturday. Seems he showed up late for the team's game against Florida. His excuse was that he was speaking to a group of Little League players.

Since the appearance wasn't "sponsored" by the Nationals, the team fined Dukes $500. However, Dukes won't be paying that fine (via ESPN).
The Great Falls Little League, where he was speaking prior to the game, says it will pay it for him after a fundraising effort, according to the Washington Post.

"The point is, this guy gave back to our community, and now he's in a hard spot. We need to help him," said Jim Mraz, the Great Falls LL president, according to the Post. "It's not a question of whether this guy can afford the 500 bucks. We're just trying to send a message to our kids: He was here for us. Now we've got to be there for him."
This isn't about the Nationals being heartless. In fact, they have a perfectly good argument for issuing the fine.
"I think it's great [the Little League folks] feel that way," (Nationals manager Manny) Acta said yesterday. "We let Elijah know how proud we were of what he was doing, because we encourage our players to be fan-friendly in this community. But what a lot of people are misunderstanding is, this was not a team function. If this had been [set up] through the team, I think someone would have advised him not to do something like that before a day game."
The right thing would be for the Nationals to tell the Little League to keep their money. Of course, the team and Dukes could find a way to do something nice for this group at some point this season. After all, it's not like they're filling their stadium with raucous crowds.

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