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Elijah Dukes is in trouble again. Which makes me sad, though not for him.

Nov 2, 2010, 3:59 PM EDT

Washington Nationals Photo Day Getty Images

It’s not major trouble by his standards — he’d have to be accused of robbing a moving train or sedition or something in order for this to really register on the Elijah Dukes scale — but the former Ray and Nat was arrested again, this time for failing to pay court-ordered child support payments. Like, a lot of them.

My point of bringing this up is not to pile on Dukes. God knows the poor sod has had enough of that.  But to remind us that, as the offseason gets underway, we’re soon going to be reintroduced to baseball’s version of magical thinking.  The fantasy tales that are the lifeblood of the hot stove season. From the very minor — hey, did you hear that Joe Shlabotnik is in the best shape of his life? — to the desperate — Why, yes, Johnny Elbow is on the comeback trail! — to the downright sad — Did you hear that Joe Outfielder has finally faced down his demons and turned his life around? — the winter is the time when everyone seems to check their skepticism at the door and allows themselves to believe that things can change.

And sometimes they do change. But for every Josh Hamilton story, there are ten Elijah Dukes stories.  Of young men with great talent either throwing it away or having it taken away from them due to injury or circumstance. And never coming back.

Elijah Dukes is never going to play Major League Baseball again.  Most of us never figured he would, and we certainly won’t miss him.  But there are others we will miss if they don’t return. And, as we read that feature story about long workouts in the dead of winter or long months in rehab of one sort or another, we’ll trick ourselves into thinking that they will overcome those odds and will come back. But, sadly, most of the time they won’t.

Baseball is a tough game. There is always someone waiting to take an open job. There aren’t many real opportunities for comebacks. Certainly not for a good-but-not-great nutcase like Elijah Dukes. But not for a more pleasant brand of outcast either.

  1. section138 - Nov 2, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    That dude is soooooo goddamn high in that picture.

  2. Jonny 5 - Nov 2, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    I hope his kids one day knee him right in his groin. What an a-hole.

  3. Utley's Hair - Nov 2, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    And in a related story, Nyjer Morgan will be back.

    But, seriously, these jackasses who pull in that money to play a damn game for a living and don’t see fit to support their kids piss me off. It’s not your kids’ fault that you couldn’t keep it in your damn pants, so don’t take it out on them.

    Great. Now I’m going to be pissed off for the rest of the damn day. Thanks a lot Craig!!!!

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 2, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    I’m gonna bet Milton Bradley’s playing on his last contract, too.

  5. crankyfrankie - Nov 2, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    OK lets be fair here. We do not know how high the supports order is and reality check time the money he made this summer with the Newark Bears was substantially less than his MLB salary. He was gone from the Bears when I saw them in August.

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 2, 2010 at 11:24 PM

      Click on and read the damn link. He was ordered in January 2009 to pay $40k in support, and he hasn’t paid it. In two months, that will be 24 months—two friggin years since he was ordered to pay it. Is THAT fair to his kids? It doesn’t matter what he was making with whatever the hell team he was playing on. Where was he when he was ordered to pay it? And where was he BEFORE he was ordered to pay it? He made his bed and now he needs to lie in it—unfortunately sso do his kids.

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