As the United States prepares to celebrate it's Thanksgiving holiday—traditionally with a turkey dinner—and baseball teams work on their budgets and rosters, this would seem the perfect week for the Los Angeles Dodgers to kill two birds with one stone.
By plucking and stuffing one turkey (Andruw Jones) the Dodgers would satisfy both the holiday tradition as well as dropping some dead weight—emphasis on weight—from their roster and payroll.
Jones was foisted upon the Dodgers by that most satanic of player agents, Scott Boros, supposedly to fulfill the team's need for a power hitter in the middle of the lineup.
After signing a contract for about $10 million per for two seasons, Jones embarked upon a crash diet resembling a Las Vegas buffet that ballooned his weight by over 20 pounds over the previous season, one noted for increased size, injury, and reduced production.
Most folks, when given a chance to redeem themselves from a poor season, work hard to justify the faith shown to them, especially when it comes from another team. Of course, most folks don't employ someone with the ultra arrogant personality of Boras to represent them either.
While attempting to achieve the silhouette of a zeppelin may not be the best idea for a professional athlete, arrogantly stating one's indifference to the new team's fans over their justified dismay is quite another. Jones repeatedly said he did not care what the fans thought.
Continuing this theater of the absurd, Jones actually was offended the fans would boo him for not performing in a manner that came close to justifying his salary. Since the fans don't play the game, they just don't understand was his reasoning.
A player who is overweight can easily play below his skill level and suffer knee injuries is the fans retort, from which scant appreciation for a supposed professional athlete unable to grasp this basic concept will spring.
The Dodgers have been the team to break barriers in the past. They broke the color line with Branch Rickey's signing of Jackie Robinson. They brought baseball to the west when Walter O'Malley convinced Horance Stoneham to bring the Giants to San Francisco while the Dodgers inhabited Los Angeles.
Now is Frank McCourt's opportunity to make baseball history. Andruw Jones showed complete disregard for the Dodger team and fans with the manner he prepared and performed last season. He committed a significant breach of contract by not conducting himself as a professional and being prepared to play the season. Given he was a veteran of 12 years with the Atlanta Braves, Jones can not claim ignorance as to what is required to play a Major League season.
While still under the ownership of Peter O'Malley, the Dodgers had a fantastic opportunity to void a previous contract. Darryl Strawberry failed the team and it's fans by lapsing into a major abuse of cocaine, which lead to his being released from the team.
Wanting the situation to just disappear, O'Malley paid off Strawberry, who dragged his powdered nose up to San Francisco then later out to New York to play with the Yankees.
If O'Malley would have refused to pay Strawberry, Major League Baseball, along with all other professional sports, could be in a much stronger position regarding drug use of all sorts by it's players. Whether it was from urging out of the office of the commissioner or threats from the players union, or possibly a bit of both we cannot be certain, that O'Malley did not stand up against an out of control player is certain however.
Now McCourt has the opportunity to play O'Malley's mulligan, removing the bloat from both the Dodger clubhouse as well as it's payroll by refusing to pay a player for a second season when said player did not prepare himself to play the first season of his contract.
There are those who would feel this position is hard and cold-hearted. While wanting anyone who has major issues threatening their life to get all the help they need, one must also recognize a professional athlete has obligations to their teammates, the franchise and it's fans-as well as to their family and themselves.
Jones effectively stole the Dodger's money last year, and limited their options player personnel wise. He should not be allowed the opportunity to repeat these crimes against the Los Angeles franchise and it's fans as well as the sport in general.
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