"Earring-wearing Gay wad." "Goddamned Moron." "Ignoramus." "Troll." "Idiot." "Devil's spawn." "A product of cousins breeding with cousins."
And my personal favorite: "Jackass."
In the past 24 hours, this bouquet of compliments has been hurled at me -- all because I want what's best for my favorite baseball team, the Texas Rangers.
Colby Lewis is a good guy. I've interviewed him several times in group settings and he's always been polite, professional and accessible. And last fall he was a great pitcher. As has been erroneously reported in the wake of my Monday blog post about him missing a start to attend the birth of his second child, I have nothing against him personally, nor did I "attack" him.
I merely disagree with him missing a start. Again, here's why:
Because, honestly, I don't care if Lewis is a good dad. If I wanted to root for a team of great role models, I'd renew my season tickets to watch the deacons at my Sunday church. I want -- always have, always will -- the Rangers to win.
And Lewis helps that cause not by being a good parent, but rather a good pitcher.
Got lots of publicity for this opinion. I'll even make an appearance tonight on Inside Edition. From The Sporting News to Huffington Post to CBS, which got my name wrong and called my blog item a "column," plenty of people and pundits are calling me out. As Greg Williams, my radio partner on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan says, "It ain't a real popular stance."
One writer concluded that I "was apparently dumped by his step-son's mother" (nope). Another urged people to "take a look at the guy. He's obviously clueless." (Got me on that one.) All in all, more or less everyone -- SB Nation's Rob Neyer is a notable exception -- agrees that I should instead be praising Lewis for his family-first priorities.
Wrote one emailer: "You owe all of America an apology."
It's easy to say "it's only April" when I compare Lewis' decision to that of Memphis Grizzlies forward Shane Battier, who played last Sunday in an NBA playoff game while his wife gave birth. But -- this is cliche, but if you do the math you'll find that it's quite true -- games in April count just as much as games in September. And if the Rangers lose the AL West by one game -- and if it can be reasonably concluded that Lewis missing that start contributed to them missing the playoffs -- I'll be pissed. I just will. The fact that he has bedside photos of the birth with his new daughter will be of zero comfort to the Rangers fan steaming inside me.
If he did miss a start in the last week of the season, plenty of people would still praise him for being a family man -- but plenty others would say he should have pitched. And if he skipped Game 7 of the World Series, the Family Man set would all but disappear, at least among sports fans. Then why is it different in April, when it could be a game that prevents the Rangers from having a chance to get to the World Series?
As a talented baseball player, Lewis gets paid handsomely and then some for his sacrifices. He'll miss Memorial Day picnics and July 4th fireworks and Labor Days at the lake, but his children will be set for life financially. I understand the Lewis family attempted to schedule their pregnancy in the off-season, but nature dictated otherwise. That'll happen. But, still, as a Rangers fan, I happen to think he should be at work when his shift starts.
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As for me, I'm a big boy with thick skin. I appreciate the healthy dialogue and I'll absorb the criticism. As a guy who has endured the family pain of a miscarriage and as a long-time youth sports coach who loves kids, I'll be just fine.
I won't, however, apologize for disagreeing with this email:
"What if your team finishes one game short of the playoffs? Was it really worth it? In a word, yes. Good for Mr. Lewis for having his priorities right."
They may be his priorities, and they may be the priorities of seemingly every other human at the moment. But as a Rangers fan, I just can't say they're mine.