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Games People Play – Phillies Strike Out with Myes Incident – 6-28-2006

By Rick Racela

Hard to believe, Harry.
If the late Rich Ashburn were still around and in the broadcast booth, he undoubtedly would be contemplating one of his favorite phrases.
Directed at long-time microphone partner Harry Kalas, Mr. Ashburn’s renowned “hard to believe” would be a catch-all description for any weird, zany or seldom-seen episode occurring on the playing field or in the stands.
Indeed it is hard to believe that the Phillies’ organization could handle last weekend’s assault and battery charge against pitcher Brett Myers more poorly. Very little public relations training is required when common sense will do.
Myers, with a documented history of emotional outbursts and stubborn behavior, allegedly punched his wife, Kim, in the face on a Boston street corner after apparently dragging her from a bar just after midnight last Friday.
This case is more than just allegations and he said she said. Several witnesses phoned 911 and gave statements to the media about what they saw.
This wasn’t in a private hotel room or other out-of-the-way location. This was in broad darkness at a public venue.
Kim Myers posted the $200 bail for her slugging husband. The charges were filed by Boston police, not Kim Myers. Here’s hoping she doesn’t recant her complaint or try to explain it away.
But back to the organization. Someone in the Phillies senior management should have realized the impact of having their temperamental hurler take the mound at Fenway Park just 36 hours after this troubling incident.
Someone had to have enough brains and courage to stand up and scream out the absurdity of allowing business as usual.
No one can claim to be without errors in his or her life. We all make mistakes. Some are more impacting than others and you can only hope that your mistakes are minimal and that you learn from them.
But, either way, history teaches that our peers are much more forgiving and understanding if you take the high road. Admitting guilt. Seeking help. Making restitution. All of these are moves in the right direction.
The Phillies can’t seem to turn in the right direction on most decisions. Team media consultant Scott Palmer must be cringing. Palmer, a former feel-good sportscaster with the popular “Action News” programs, was brought in to help team management navigate the deep waters of media relations in a major market starving for a winner.
You have to wonder if anyone consulted Palmer about the decision to allow Brett Myers to pitch. Lawyers, even barstool legal experts, can argue all they want about whether there was nexus involved in this matter.
Being a baseball player isn’t quite the same as serving as a teacher or police officer. What is the relationship between being a professional baseball player and having poor judgment and uncontrollable emotional outbursts? That’s for a philosopher or the courts to decide.
This is about doing the right thing. Professional athletes are in the public eye. The public is what keeps owners and athletes in the black, financially. Perception is reality. What you do and say does have nexus with your fan base.
Allowing Myers to pitch in Beantown said that the Phillies were conducting business as usual. Assaulting his spouse was not a problem for the team, the decision screamed.
Society is tolerant of a mistake if the error is acknowledged and dealt with. There must be a better way of dealing with this error than business as usual. There must be better public statements an organization can make.
How about sending the guy home to take care of his personal business? We don’t need to know about the man’s personal life, but we need to know that our favorite baseball team doesn’t just allow assault and battery to take place without consequences.
This was more than an accusation. It was witnessed by several people.
Sports columns in the days after the incident rehashed examples in recent years of incidents involving Phillies’ players and the lack of significant response on the part of management.
Can it be that difficult to do the right thing? Why is it so difficult for this team?
Some have remarked that Myers, the staff ace, should not have pitched because the team is so far out of first place, anyway. That misses the point.
The right thing is not defined by your place in the standings. It’s defined as coming clean, paying the penalties, making amends, and trying to start fresh.
Starting fresh does not mean making your next start in the pitching rotation. Time needs to pass. Myers needs to go away for quiet time with a counselor, with his family, with his personal friends.
He doesn’t belong in the media spotlight and he doesn’t belong with the team. Is it unfair that famous folks can’t have privacy? If you say yes, then be quick to add that it’s also unfair that some people earn minimum wage and others earn millions of dollars.
You give up certain things in exchange for the big bucks. But whether you’re famous or a common citizen, problems such as domestic violence can never be business as usual. We don’t need to know what happens next in the Myers’ household, but we need to know that the organization is responsive.
Shame on the Phillies for exceeding their on-field incompetence with even greater off-field buffoonery.
Hard to believe, indeed.

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