February 9, 2010, 7:45 p.m. In what would ordinarily be a little-noticed item, the Dodgers signed Brian Giles to a minor league contract Saturday, along with an invitation to Spring Training.
Extra left-handed bat slash fifth outfielder and blah, blah, blah.
While it's an extremely unfortunate signing, given the man's baggage, the notion that Brian Giles could become a Dodger and have it be either ordinary or little-noticed is a shame, and very much worth discussion here.
The baggage? Well, the term "wife beating" would apply normally, but since in Giles' case the woman was only a girlfriend, I suppose we'll have to go with "girlfriend beating," allegedly. Or "domestic abuse," allegedly.
Whatever you call what Brian Giles did, allegedly, it's an ugly a word as can possibly be, and it doesn't belong anywhere near the Los Angeles Dodgers. And they should have known better.
And so should all the mainstream and Internet media outlets which ran the story without so much as a syllable on the matter. Doesn't anyone have a conscience anymore? Hello? Why I'm the only guy out there who broaches the subject in a baseball column these days is beyond me, and absolutely mind-boggling.
I've been reaming wife beater Bobby Cox in this space for years, and there'll be no double-standard here. Ever. As I've said previously, a Dodger drug abuser is as bad as any other (worse, one might argue), and therefore, and obviously, a Dodger domestic abuser is as bad as any other. Worse, one should argue.
Though I don't believe Giles deserves even a thimble full of the benefit of the doubt, I'll be careful how I say this. I've already used the word "allegedly" three times in the piece, and while I'm no lawyer, I think I'm covered. Maybe not. I don't care.
Here's what I know for sure. I know for a fact that there was an accusation, and more importantly, an arrest. There was a statement with a degree of responsibility from the individual and a better one from his club at the time (in 2008), the San Diego Padres. There's an NBC San Diego 7/39 video, still posted on GaslampBall.com, and several archived stories at the San Diego Union-Tribune, this one by Tom Krasovic being one of the most helpful.
Look, the man is at the tail end of a lucrative career. He's made his tens of millions of dollars, and there are other things he can do with his life, including sit around and collect interest. The fact that's he's not a particularly good baseball player at this point in time, and the Dodgers have enough options in-house already, ought to be beside the point. Too bad it's not.
Image slash character does matter. The club should've passed on Brian Giles, and it's really, really, really unfortunate that they didn't. Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation is all over the domestic violence issue, with a well-publicized fundraiser coming in a matter of days. And here the Dodgers are signing Brian Giles. C'mon, people.
Like I've said over and over and over re Bobby Cox, while one violent incident may not be the entire measure of the man, it's certainly part of his bio, and damn well worth dredging up for discussion every once in a while.
Memo to Cox, Giles, Brett Myers, and the rest of you less-famous types – having to deal with one little Internet scribe (out of thousands) calling you out on a past abuse is a small price to pay for what you did. You earned the scarlet letter "A" for abuser all by your lonesome. Will it kill you to have it thrown in your face for the betterment of others from time to time?. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. And can you blame us if we don't want to see the letter turned Dodger blue?
We're looking at a pretty simple lesson in moral high-ground here, OK. And the Dodgers missed the turn-off, it seems to me. If I'm wrong I'm sure you'll tell me...
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