Monday Weisblog: Put up (with) your Dukes

Elijah Dukes

Elijah Dukes

Elijah Dukes must think that he just cannot catch a break – or maybe karma is catching up to him. Something …

He’s a professional baseball player for Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals. Dukes has lived a very rough life, though much of it has been self-inflicted.

Much of Dukes’ issues started when his father was convicted of second-degree murder in 1996. Dukes’ first arrest came a year later and it’s been one problem after another ever since. He’s been arrested at least three times for assault, has fathered five children with four different women (one of whom allegedly was a 17-year-old foster child who was under the care of a Dukes relative at the time), and in 2007 his wife filed a restraining order against him because he allegedly threatened to kill her.

Then he gets traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Washington Nationals in the year the Rays go to the World Series and the Nationals go absolutely nowhere.

Now, it appears he’s genuinely trying to turn his life around. So much so, he has begun doing a good bit of charity work in the Washington D.C. area. Last week, he made an appearance at a local Little League on behalf of the team, and he got to the ballpark for that day’s game approximately five minutes late.

No big deal, right? He wasn’t that late, and it was for a good cause, right?

Wrong, according to Nationals Manager Manny Acta. He blew up. Dukes was benched, fined $500 and the team even threatened to banish him to the minor leagues! Here’s his official statement:

“He was late for work, he broke a team rule, and we are going to change the culture here — regardless of how well a guy is playing,” Acta said. “And it was a bizarre situation, because he was doing something that we encourage our players to do: He was out in the community doing something for some Little League program and just showed up late to work. He was very remorseful about it. He felt bad, but we have to lay the law on whoever.”

This is part of the reason why they need to “change the culture.” The Nationals have been the Keystone Kops of Major League Baseball since they entered the National League. With the putrid product they’ve put on the field, they need all the community PR they can get, if you ask me.

This is the same team that had two of their players trot out to the field recently with the name “NATINALS” on their uniforms.

Memo to Manny: Cut the guy some slack. He’s trying to do the right things … let him alone and concern yourself with improving your team. Here’s how it works – you punish those who do bad things; you PRAISE those who do good things. Elijah has done enough bad things already to last a lifetime; so be sure to give him some positive reinforcement when he makes good decisions.

Benching one of the few guys who’s actually performing for you isn’t helping any, and it makes you look inept to the Average Joe (or, in this case, the Average John) who reads the papers and the Internet.

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