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AL East: What to do with Dukes?
Six years ago, a prominent baseball columnist wrote a column about Toe Nash, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays prospect from Louisiana, "The Babe from the land of Sonny Boy Williamson." But Nash wasn't the second-coming of Babe Ruth or Satchel Paige; he was a thug. He played alongside future big leaguers, Carl Crawford and Josh Hamilton in an instructional league but he never made it close to the majors. Instead, he ended up in jail.
It was hard not to recall Nash as the Devil Rays now have another talented -- and even more accomplished -- but deeply troubled young player to deal with in Elijah Dukes. In April, Dukes, who has five children from four different mothers, threatened his wife NiShea Gilbert. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Dukes left her the following voice message:
"Hey, dawg. It's on, dawg. You dead, dawg. I ain't even bulls-------. Your kids too, dawg. It don't even matter to me who is in the car with you. N-----, all I know is, n-----, when I see your m-----f------- a-- riding, dawg, it's on. As a matter of fact, I'm coming to your m-----f------ house."
The following day, New York Sun baseball writer Tim Marchman wrote:
If the Devil Rays truly want to disavow this, they have to release Dukes and forfeit the benefit of his immense talent; to do much of anything else would be to say that his ability to hit a baseball outweighs his monstrous behavior.
Here is more about Dukes' volatile relationship with Gilbert, and here is Joey Johnson's lengthy profile of Dukes in Sunday's Tampa Tribune. Stuart Steinbreg, the Devil Rays' principal owner said that he wanted Dukes released when he first heard the news. According to MLB.com:
"My immediate reaction [would have been] unprintable," Sternberg said. "Dukes' punishment wouldn't be called a suspension. It would be called, you know, 'You're fired.'"
Dukes was benched by D-Ray manager Joe Maddon last Wednesday and Thursday; he returned on Friday night and hit a home run in a Tampa loss. Then, last night, Dukes had the game-winning hit against the Tigers. Gary Sheffield has some words of advice for Dukes, who isn't going anywhere just yet. The Rays did, however, demote Jonny Gomes to make room for Akinori Iwamura.
What I'm really eager to see is how his older body will react from staying away from the game for a longer period of time. I know he has done this the last two seasons, but again he is one year older and will be facing better hitters… I'm not saying that this was a bad signing for the Yankees; I am saying that there may be room for concern. Clemens may come back and prove once again that he can be dominant, but I would just like to give it time before he is anointed the savior of the season.
"Everyone is disgusted and they don't want to spend money," said Abdul Traore, surrounded by discounted Yankees gear at his Jeans Plus store on E. 161st St. by the Stadium. "When the Yankees win, people show up. When they lose, everybody is just mad."
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Actually, it looks like Roger had a choice about opening up against the Red Sox, and bagged out of it. Actually, not too surprising.
AL East blog (Monday)
NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
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