Men, not machines

I still have a lot of catching up remaining after having been on the road for the last two weeks, but I wanted to make a short post with an important reminder.

After managing in the majors for 33 years, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has probably said it all at one time or another. One of his seemingly time-worn lines is that players are “men, not machines.”

La Russa cites this to remind probing media members that there is more behind the results on the field than what we see on the television screen or in the box scores. The manager sometimes talks about the importance of and challenge in trying to understand what is going on in a young man’s “coconut.”

I received another good reminder of this during my trip as I learned that an organizational player with a young child is in the midst of a painful divorce. Of course, he still has a job to do. It is easy to say this should not be affecting his play, but how could it not?

His name will not be disclosed as I imagine the last thing he would want is his personal privacy to be violated nor the appearance for excuses to be made for his performance on the field.

Besides, it could be anyone. Other players may have a sick parent or money issues or family problems far away in another country or who knows what else weighing on them?

It is expected of fans to be critical of poor play and mistakes made, yet those who understand baseball players are truly not machines will always stop short of criticizing them as men.

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