Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

I won't disappear

I’m watching the 2009 Caribbean World Series on the MLB Network this week. If you aren’t watching it, you’re missing some really exciting baseball (And Jose Offerman! He looks exactly the same as he did when he played in Boston. Maybe even better. After this incident, Jose actually has a job in baseball? He’s the manager of the Dominican Republic team. Go figure. Well, I guess if Roger Clemens got to keep his job after chucking a bat at Mike Piazza, Offerman deserves another chance).

Christian Abraham of the Connecticut Post/Associated Press got the photos of the incident back in 2007

I wrote that back in February. A few throwaway lines about a former Red Sox player. Didn’t really give it much thought at the time. But, thanks to the fabulous Stan Grossfeld (check it out – it’s a must-read!), we now know the aftermath of that incident. I don’t usually like to create a blog entry out of work someone else has done, but Stan’s story upset me too much to just let it slide.

Offerman was arrested at the ballpark and charged with two counts of felony assault, which carried a maximum sentence of 10 years. But a Bridgeport Superior Court judge granted Offerman “accelerated rehabilitation” – two years probation – and ordered him to receive anger management treatment and pay for the medical expenses of Nathans and Beech. His record would then be expunged.

That’s what happened to Offerman. What about the two players he hit with the bat?

On Aug. 14, 2007, Nathans was struck in the head attempting to stop a bat-wielding Jose Offerman, the former Red Sox second baseman, who charged the mound after being hit by a pitch in a game between the Bridgeport Blues and the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League. Bridgeport pitcher Matt Beech suffered a broken middle finger on his non-pitching hand but was spared further injury thanks to Nathan’s actions.

John Nathans, the, now, 29 year-old catcher Offerman hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat, won’t ever play baseball again. He has difficulty doing every-day tasks, let alone dealing with the rigors of being an athlete. Because of his injury, caused by a tantrum Jose Offerman threw because he was hit by a pitch on the calf, his equilibrium is off. Most of the time he gets dizzy and/or nauseated and gets headaches and has trouble concentrating. He’s in physical therapy (keep in mind this is physical therapy he’s going through almost two years after the incident) “several” times a week and some days he can’t handle any kind of “outside stimuli”.

Stan Grossfeld is the kind of writer I dream of being. His stories are heartfelt and without purposeful malice toward anyone. He just finds a story that he knows people will want to read and writes some of the best pieces to be published in the Boston Globe. But even Stan has to point out that Jose Offerman, essentially, blames Nathans for his injury, saying he taunted Offerman about running slowly around the bases when he hit a home run in his first at bat and that Nathans got in the way while Offerman had his fit and was swinging the bat. Usually Stan’s articles make you want to find the subject and give them a hug or a pat on the back. This one made me want to do that, but it also made me want to find Jose Offerman and hit him with a baseball bat. Fortunately for Jose, I consider myself a better person than that and wouldn’t dream of attacking defenseless people with a weapon.

I blame no one but Offerman for his actions but, certainly, you can’t help but think that part of this is because fighting (and anger, or as they call it in athletics, passion) is so accepted in sports. You get mad because a hitter owns you (which doesn’t seem to be the case for Matt Beech hitting Offerman even though Offerman did hit a home run off of him) and you plunk him. It’s widely accepted in baseball. You get shown up by the opposing team in some way? Someone needs to watch their back. (After claiming he didn’t see Aubrey Huff’s fistpumps on Sunday, Joba Chamberlain told the media “This won’t be the last time I face him.” That quote came after Joba said “If he wants to do a backflip, he can do a backflip. It doesn’t bother me.” Guess Joba is going to play both sides of the fence until the Orioles and Yankees meet again. Then what? Then Joba lets a fastball loose and hits Huff in the head “by accident”? When does it stop?

Joba seems to have, well let’s just say ‘issues’ that show on the mound. He obviously has a lot of intensity/anger/passion whatever you would like to call it, that results in players getting hit or almost getting hit all too often. He’s 23 years old. No one is telling him that he needs to start acting like an adult. What happens the day his “passion” gets the best of him and another player ends up like John Nathans?

I don’t mean to single out Joba, really, but right now he’s the one you see the most showing that fire on the mound. Fire that the Yankees and their fans love about him but that really worries me. There’s no place for anger (and make no mistake, a lot of Joba’s fire is fueled by anger. Take into consideration the way he acted when he walked Papi and then turning around and hitting Jason Bay last week. That was anger, pure and simple.) in a damn game.

Much to my disgust, Stan Grossfeld tells us Tom Glavine and Torii Hunter, two well-respected Major Leaguers, wrote letters of support for Jose Offerman, calling him a good, quiet person. I think John Nathans sums it all up best:

“Everybody’s a good person until they do something bad”

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May 12, 2009 - Posted by | 2009 | , , ,

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