What we changed
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dreamed
That any did.
Thursday night, Elijah Dukes was ejected in the 9th inning after being called out on strikes and got close to the home plate umpire. There is about 7 seconds of video of this on the YouTube, starting at about the 5:25 mark:
Already, The St. Petersburg Times and several websites are presenting the ejection and aftermath in inflammatory ways.
The Times first broke the story on its The Heater blog with the title “Dukes involved in incident in Dominican game.” Apparently that wasn’t interesting enough because the same story appeared in The Times under a new headline: “Dukes erupts yet again.”
“Incident?” “Erupts?” Come on, Dukes certainly doesn’t do anything close to what an opponent does to get ejected in the same game — check the same YouTube at the 1:35 mark.
After being called out on a close play at first, a runner freaks out, jumps and spikes his helmet and goes after the umpire. (Pretty sure it’s Caonabo Cosme, who spent 2007 at AA in the Reds organization.)
Dukes is pushed away by teammates — not necessarily held back or “restrained.” But is what you see on that YouTube what you think of when you read under the headline: “charges an umpire in the Dominican Republic?” Or when you read this lead paragraph:
“Elijah Dukes apparently hasn’t calmed down that much.”
The only quoted source makes the situation sound pretty bad — but consider it’s coming from an executive from the opposing team — the second place team behind Elijah’s first place team, Licey.
Meanwhile, our Devil Rays hadn’t even heard about the “incident” — so that should give you an idea of how serious Licey thinks it was.
But plenty of folks on the interwebs were ready to dogpile on Dukes:
R. J. Anderson of DRaysBay: “I don’t think …. getting ready to fight with an umpire is the best way to win the right field job.” (Not that there’s any reason to believe Dukes was getting ready to actually fight the ump.)
Scott at Rays Of Light: “You can’t make this stuff up. Elijah Dukes, who HAS to know there’s a microscope the size of Cecil Fielder’s Thanksgiving dinner on him, was involved in an altercation with an umpire in the Dominican. …. I’m going to put the odds on Elijah being somewhere other than St. Pete in April at 99%.” (Arguing and approaching an ump is “an altercation?”)
Baseball Think Factory: “The Honorable Elijah at it again.” (At it again? Doesn’t that imply something much worse? And The Honorable — is that a shot at the Nation Of Islam?)
Can’t Stop The Bleeding: “For Elijah Dukes Trouble Knows No Offseason. …. it seems like authority figures all over the hemisphere enjoy harassing Rays OF Elijah Dukes.” (“Trouble?”)
Geoff Young at Knuckle Curve: “Given DukesÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ history, this isnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t exactly surprising. Still, you hate to see stuff like this happenÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦” (Stuff like what? He allegedly threatened to kill his wife and children, so it makes sense that he got up in an umpire’s face makes sense, but still you hate to see it?)
Chris Needham at Capitol Punishment: ” Crisis Averted. But but but Tim Tolman personally assured me that he had changed!!!!”
DeadSpin may take the cake for chastising the one part of The Times story that attempted to give some context to the “incident”:
Dukes found himself in the middle of a Dominican league game and was thrown out for — get this! — arguing with the umpire, and chest bumping him a little. It measures just a 6.3 on the Dukes Intensity scale. But maybe it’s society’s fault. Literally:
It’s not uncommon, however, for these games to become heated – and this one was between the league’s top teams – with players jawing and fans screaming and throwing bottles onto the field, and umpires are quick to eject players in order to retain control.
This stuff’s normal, huh?
Elijah Dukes: “Is this heaven?”
Licey: “… It’s the Dominican Republic.”
Is it really so hard for everybody to believe in a little Redemption? Or to at least wait until something close to a real “eruption” or “altercation”?
The game was the first for Dukes in 12 days. He had been in the Dominican since Tuesday after going back to the US for Thanksgiving. He was not in the lineup for Friday’s game, a 7-0 loss.