Cheering For The Laundry
We all love sports but occasionally being a fan can be a beating. Whether it’s on-field performance that makes us insane or a front office move that leaves us scratching our heads, our teams can drive us crazy while somehow giving us a great deal of joy at the same time. It’s bordering on an abusive relationship but the good times make it all worthwhile. Sometimes our fandom goes well beyond the field or front office. We may grow to like a certain player because of things they do outside of sports like supporting a cause that matters to us or being someone we can relate to. Whatever reason it might be, we find ways to like or in some cases, dislike a player. Off the field issues that clash with our own morals are one of the primary reasons we tend to dislike a particular player.
The media of our time may just magnify a problem that’s always been there but it feels as if today’s sports fan constantly faces the moral dilemma of supporting a player with an ugly off the field issue who happens to play for their favorite team. I believe most reasonable people ask themselves: If I cheer for this guy am I supporting whatever bad thing they did? It sounds crazy to generalize that much but I’ve caught myself not wanting to cheer for certain players. What do you do in this situation? Are you going to be hard-line stance guy that hates everything you aren’t 100% on board with or do you look the other way and blindly support your team?
The first option makes it damn near impossible to function on this planet. The moral sports argument is a tiring fight and hard to keep up with whom you are for and against. I just want to enjoy my team and be entertained more than anything but I’m also not a fan of openly supporting a scumbag. It’s a difficult situation for some but life is a lot easier if we just take sports for what it is: Entertainment.
I’m attempting (Key word: attempting) to adopt a new policy of just supporting my team and not focusing on the negative off the field issues involving players but sometimes that can be easier said than done. My new policy is still digesting Matt Bush in a Rangers uniform. There’s no doubt he’s a polarizing figure and bad PR waiting to happen. We’ve all heard the stories over the years of his reckless behavior and have been refreshed on those incidents since his arrival in Texas. It’s not pretty and the stories are incredibly sad. I’m not going anywhere near his past transgressions right now but I will say he’s very lucky have to one last chance. He does appear to have been humbled by the time in prison and seems to really appreciate the chance to play baseball again. Do I hope he gets his life worked out? Yes. Do I think he’s in a great place that can help him do that? Yes. Am I going to worry if he was actually held accountable within the legal system? Probably not. Fortunately for me (and you), I’m only concerned about what he can do for the Rangers going forward.
Matt Bush, 30, is clearly a naturally gifted athlete. Most guys don’t get out of jail then sign a professional baseball contract much less get out of jail throwing triple digits. Bush is a unique talent. The former 1st overall pick, who was drafted as a position player, has put himself on the map with the Rangers as a reliever this spring and could potentially make his major league debut later this season. Bush is currently 1 of 3 players drafted 1st overall who hasn’t played in the majors and at this point, just reaching the majors would be quite a feat. It’s very difficult to project what we could get out of Bush going forward. We don’t know what Matt Bush’s future holds but you can safely throw out all previous stats and data on him. It’s completely useless at this point. We only have three spring innings to go off of right now but at least they were three very impressive innings.
What we do know about Matt Bush, the baseball player, is he has an incredible arm. He has a fastball that touches 100 mph and a curveball that could be an effective change of pace pitch. There’s no doubt he profiles as a reliever right now and his curve appears to need some refinement. You can certainly see the swing and miss potential with the limited action he saw this spring. Bush could be a legitimate weapon out of the bullpen and might even be a multiple inning guy down the road.
Bush comes to the Rangers organization as a real value. From our perspective, he’s a low risk option with elite upside that’s controllable at a low cost for what would likely be his entire career considering his current age. Not bad for a fringe minor leaguer. If he’s mentally right and ready to be a professional, he’s an absolute steal. If he’s not ready to be a pro, you may have to deal with some bad PR but the hit will be minimal for a guy who’s not nearly as visible playing in the minor leagues. The reward for reviving his career is there for everyone involved. It’s truly a win-win in the best case scenario. He’s clearly on his last chance and fully aware of it. It’s possible he never amounts to anything with us but the minimal risk assumed by giving him a chance is well worth the upside
Overall, I’m really on board with this move. The best case scenario is Matt Bush gets his life and career on track while the Rangers get an impact player on the cheap. This is the type of random flier that pans out for a championship team in a year that everything lines up and you become “that f’n team”. In some ways, the Bush situation reminds me of the Hail Mary that was Colby Lewis after his time in Japan. He’s certainly not Colby Lewis and it’s a much different situation but who would’ve ever thought Colby would be one of the last guys standing from the pennant winning teams of 2010 and 2011? Not me.
The Rangers previous success with reclamation projects definitely gives you hope that this situation could work out. At this point, I hope fans can give Matt Bush a chance to be a different person. It’s hard to judge someone’s demons and I’d rather avoid that altogether. For me and my new policy, it’s all about baseball with Matt Bush. I genuinely hope baseball is his top priority and this can be a big win for the organization. There’s no doubt some people will be mad if he eventually makes it to the majors and they have the right to be. The national attention will be there and the reviews will be mixed at best. You never know what a guy with his ability might be able to do. The Rangers have seen amazing things from guys who’ve been written off before.