Forget Barry Bonds. Baseball’s worst character won’t arrive in Boston until later this summer.
If you haven’t kept up with the curious case of Tampa Bay’s Elijah Dukes, it’s no problem. At the rate this kid is going, he’ll have yet another controversy hanging over his head in about a week.
Just weeks after it was revealed that the Devil Rays outfielder left threatening messages on his wife’s voicemail, ("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.") as well as sending her an image of a gun, today comes the story that a 17-year-old girl who lived in the foster care of one of his relatives is pregnant with Dukes’s child.
When the girl broke the news to Dukes, he allegedly threw a Gatorade at her.
So, what does Dukes’s mother think of the controversy surrounding her son?
"Every time one of those (whores) lays down with my baby, they end up pregnant," she told the St. Petersburg Times. "That's right. And I'm tired of them."
See, they end up pregnant. Magically, I gather. By the way, in an apparent attempt to put every Shawn Kemp joke out to pasture, this will be Dukes’s fifth child with four different women. He’s 22. He has also been arrested at least five times since 2003. The state of Florida determined that he will not face charges in this latest case. It is only against Florida law to have sex with a 17-year-old if the adult is 24 or older.
The Rays are reportedly shopping Dukes, so it would be no surprise to discover that they have rid themselves of the headache by the time they visit Fenway Park for the first time this season late next month. But really, who’s going to take on this nuisance? The talent ceiling is extremely high with Dukes, but the off-field issues can obviously rise to the point where they unfortunately overshadow that talent.
The Nationals have been widely mentioned as a possibility, but Jim Bowden pretty much said “no way” to that yesterday.
"I think any transaction we make, we want to have good people here with high character in Washington representing our organization," the GM told the Washington Post. "That's extremely important to us."
Let’s just say Dukes doesn’t seem to fit that description.
Last season, while playing in Triple-A, Dukes was suspended by the franchise twice, the International League once, and told Baseball America that he was thinking about quitting the game. “I'm trying to keep my nose clean and keep to myself, but things just keep getting turned around. I'm tired of it." Seems like that goal worked out well.
The center fielder has 10 home runs on the season for the Rays, but is batting just .193, .061 for the month of June.
But even if the Rays can try and find a new locale for Dukes, it likely won’t make a difference. When hometown troubles follow hometown athletes, we’ve learned it’s difficult for them to shake those problems. For Example A, read Bill Reynolds’s unsurpassed “Fall River Dreams.”
One Devil Rays blogger lists the reason why the “change of scenery” angle won’t fix things for Dukes, but perhaps most entertaining though is the lone comment that follows this entry: “How can you say that? Moving away from Tampa worked effectively kept [Doc] Gooden and [Carl] Everett out of trouble. Why wouldn't it also work for Dukes....”
Because, you know, Gooden and Everett were such model baseball citizens.
So, let Bonds have it this weekend. But save plenty of vitriol for where it should be directed when the Rays finally make it to Boston because there may be no more despicable player in the game today. Compared to Dukes, Bonds is a regular humanitarian.