Mar 24

Danny Duffy quitting: 5 reactions

Duffy.jpgI spent all day mulling over Danny Duffy’s decision to step away from baseball and reassess his life. Lots of people have reacted already, and some really interesting discussions have popped up. Some reactions have been gentle and encouraging for Duffy, while others have been a little less sensitive. Let’s try to sum some of them up:

Reaction 1: The “What a [Baby]”
Some commenters at Royals Review had no sympathy for Duffy. Basically, they said, he’s a horrible person for not using his talent to keep pitching. I don’t know if I’m allowed to use some of the words here that were used, but I think you can figure it out. A baby.

These fans said it was stupid for Duffy to not use the incredible talent he had. They said that Duffy was throwing away millions of dollars he would’ve made in the Majors if he had stuck with baseball. And besides, how could someone walk away from a life where his JOB is to play a child’s game?

My take: I have so many problems with this outlook. Yeah, baseball is a ton of fun, but to be a pro ballplayer is not just chewing gum and fun times. It’s a grind. You eat, sleep and crap baseball, and if your heart is no longer in it, there are zero hours in the day where you can escape. If a regular guy hates his job, he can just bide his time until the end of the day, then escape into something – family time, video games, or…baseball!

But if Duffy’s passion was no longer baseball, where could he run? The creaky bus rides, bumming with host families, eating garbagey food and living below the poverty line is only worth it if the ONLY thing you want is to make the Majors. If some other dream was tugging at Danny’s heart, those things are not worth the sacrifice. To a cranky fan, it’s easy to think the baseball life would be way better than some desk job, but it is possible to burn out on baseball. 

Reaction 2: The usual gallows humor
NYRoyal blames Scott Podsednik. Others figured Duffy couldn’t stand the thought of being managed by Trey Hillman, or of having that awful KC defense behind him. And of course, we can always blame injuries, because that’s what Hillman and Dayton Moore do.

The inimitable Jeff Zimmerman noted that Dan Glass must be purging the Royals of all other Dan – Cortes, Gutierrez and now Duffy – so that he can be the only one.

My take: God bless these guys.

Reaction 3: Ouch!
It’s hard to read this story and not think about how bad it is for the Royals future. If you average out Duffy’s place on a bunch of top prospect list, he’s about the #6 prospect we have had. So much is riding on guys like Duffy panning out and making an impact in the Majors, because Dayton Moore has shown a major weakness in evaluating talent at that level.  If the Royals don’t get super lucky and have a preposterous number of prospects pan out, they’re screwed. To lose any of them is a huge blow to the team’s chances of future success, and we had already lost a big prospect in Jeff Bianchi this spring.

Reaction 4: Oh, he’ll be back
Brian at Bus Leagues Baseball seems sure Duffy will be at home for a while, then realize how much he misses baseball and come back. He’s the new Zack Greinke!

I hope this is the case, because it would ease the sting to the Royals so much.
Reaction 5: Bummer, but good luck to him

This seems to be the most common reaction at various blogs and on Twitter. It’s hard to know where Duffy is as a person. There could be any number of things going on in his life, or he could just be burned out. Unless he chooses to open up about it, we can only guess.

In a tiny way, I can relate. Obviously, I’m not as good at reporting as Duffy is at pitching, but I recently realized that I don’t want to be a reporter/journalist. Some of my professors have not taken this well. They cannot understand why I wouldn’t keep doing what I’m good at, just because everyone expects me to.  The fact is, I don’t love reporting. At all. Sure, I can keep doing it if I must, but it’s not what I want to BE, and certainly not for the rest of my life. If that’s how Duffy feels about baseball, who can tell him he’s wrong? There’s no reason for him to suffer, if the baseball field is not where he can find the most fulfillment.

And maybe there’s something even bigger at play. Maybe he’s got a family problem. Or maybe he’s depressed. Or maybe he has found a higher calling, like Grant Desme did a while ago. Who knows? Whatever the reason, you have to realize this could not have been an easy decision. I pray that Duffy has made the best decision for himself, because this is probably a really rough week.

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