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After reading this you’ll never look at David Eckstein the same way again

Mar 29, 2011, 6:07 AM EDT

David Eckstein, Casey McGehee

We like to poke fun at the “David Eckstein is scrappy” thing around here, but that’s more a commentary on the people who try to make him into something he isn’t as a player, not a personal thing about Eckstein.

Indeed, there’s absolutely no reason to poke personal fun at Eckstein of which I’m aware. And if there were any question about that, it was utterly put to rest by this article from Steve Henson of The Post Game regarding the Eckstein family’s epidemic of renal failure and how David Eckstein is now on deck to make a kidney donation, just like so many in his family have before:

Pat [Eckstein] was the first to donate, and Susan was the recipient on Nov. 29, 1988. Ken and Christine received transplants from recently deceased donors two years later. Whitey is alive because Ken’s best friend from college volunteered as a donor in 2005. Susan and Christine have six children between them, and four have been diagnosed with kidney disease.

Doctors say the sheer volume of transplants in the Eckstein family is extremely rare. Perhaps even more remarkable is the family’s upbeat approach in the face of a devastating and potentially deadly disease.

“The Ecksteins don’t see this as a hindrance or a curse, they see it as a way to bring the family together,” says Dr. Michael Angelis, Chief Surgical Director of Transplant Services at Florida Hospital in Orlando. Dr. Angelis performed the transplant surgeries for Ken in 2010 and Whitey in 2005.

David Eckstein still hasn’t officially retired, but when he does he says that he’s “looking forward to the transplant.” Note the definite article. As Henson reports, one of their sisters and several nieces and nephews are showing signs of renal failure, so David Eckstein will be donating at some point soon.

The cliches that have arisen about Eckstein making so much out of his physical shortcomings are amusing. Until I read Henson’s article, I believed that they were so comically overstated that they had long passed the point of parody. In light of the article, however, you may agree that, if anything, they understate Eckstein’s moxie.

This is a must-read, folks. Check it out.

  1. 4d3fect - Mar 29, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    Geez. I’m grumpy because I’ve been awakened by a sinus headache. I’m such a sissy.

  2. paperlions - Mar 29, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    I appreciate the families upbeat approach to their situation, but it strikes me as selfish (or at least horribly reckless) to KNOW that you have a good chance (likely 50%) to pass such a disease on to your children and to have them anyway. Considering the impending difficulties of life in a severely overpopulated world, bringing kids with this kind of genetic defect into that world is well…not the choice I would have made.
    Yeah, I know I’m cold…life is full of tough choices. To me a strong person makes the tough choice, they don’t make the choice they prefer and hope for the best.

    • Paul White - Mar 29, 2011 at 7:56 AM

      @paperlions – Thank you for sharing the choice you would have made. We’re all hoping you exercise your choice not to have children as often as possible.

    • paperlions - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:17 AM

      I knew it wouldn’t be a popular comment. As a society, we are too selfish to think beyond what are own current wants/desires are and to accept responsibility for those choices. Combine an overpopulated world with a gene pool that is rapidly filling up with non-adaptive genes through artificial means, and it is a recipe for biological disaster.
      Sometimes, you can be responsible and selfish; sometimes, you can’t.

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:31 AM

        Nice! A natural selection supporter!! The only thing is you’re kinda bordering on the whole “discrimination thing”, like a racist, but you’re a step up from that. You decided to look past the skin.

      • Paul White - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:37 AM

        Personally, I find your stance to be dangerously close to the stance taken by certain extremist regimes in our not-too-distant past, those that felt they were best suited to dictating exactly which people should and should not breed based on their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, their physical makeup, etc. If that’s a position you’re comfortable with, one that you’re willing to follow personally by not having children and contributing further to the overpopulation problem, then knock yourself out.

      • cktai - Mar 29, 2011 at 9:33 AM

        It is always good to see that we have lost any kind of nuance in this debate. First of all let us not forget that that the eugenics movement was particularly strong in the USA between 1910 and 1940 and that it has very little if anything to do with natural selection.

        Second thing is that you have to wonder who is being selfish here. Do you think the children would not like to have been born even if a 50% chance of kidney failure? Do you think their brothers and sisters, given the choice would have picked a second kidney over having sibling? By saying that this is “not the choice I would have made” you are putting social pressure on a family who already had to make a difficult decision, only so you can take the moral higher ground in an effort to create what you believe is a better world for yourself. If they can afford the surguries from their own finances, then it seems to me a bit selfish to complain about them overcrowding your world.

      • spudchukar - Mar 29, 2011 at 11:15 AM

        PL, about this “non-adaptive genes through artificial means”, would you care to expound on this, as I read it, it is troubling to me, but maybe it is simply that I am not getting what you mean?

      • ralph1994 - Mar 31, 2011 at 2:15 AM

        “non-adaptive genes through artificial means” means that modern medicine has partially overridden natural selection in our species. For millenia people with certain diseases, physical deformities, etc. would die before passing their genes on and the gene pool became stronger. People that “nature” didn’t want procreating couldn’t pass their genes on and the gene pool became stronger. In developed nations this happens less and less.

        Now I don’t believe we, as a society, can mandate that people with certain susceptibilities or “defects” don’t procreate. But at the same time we have to accept that when they do procreate those traits become more prevalent and we become weaker as a species.

        By the way Paul White, comparing what PL said to others who want to control breeding based on religion, ethnicity, etc. is asinine. They’re not even close to the same thing. The latter is based on misconceptions, stereotypes and prejudice. The former is fodder for an interesting ethical debate.

    • pwf207 - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:20 AM

      hey paperlions, i’m not assuming you mind silly ad hominem attacks that don’t address a valid point that you raise without malice but in case you do, don’t be bothered by the sheeple that just go with whatever first thought passes their mind without reflecting and viewing decisions through the lenses of reason and logic. they have trouble with something as simple as sabermetrics, they will of course be unable to rationally think through an issue like this.

    • Maxa - Mar 29, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      I appreciate the thought. In a related vein, it always seemed to me that to argue against incest by citing birth defects is inconsistent with the view that (non-incestuous) couples likely to pass on serious congenital disorders should nonetheless feel free to procreate.

    • trevorb06 - Mar 29, 2011 at 10:34 AM

      To all the people hating on Lions, you’re turning a non-issue into something it isn’t. I have a friend who has a congenital defect that has a high chance of being passed down to children. He is making the CHOICE to not have kids because he doesn’t want his kids to MAYBE have this. How much do you think this decision pains him at night? Knowing that he’ll never have children of his own to raise, to teach them how to hit a ball or learn to bike. He’s doing this because he knows how hard it is to live with this. Paperlions isn’t saying anything about extermination, he is making a brave claim.

      Paperlions, I support your comment!

      Let me all you haters this; if you had HIV/AIDS, would you have children? They’d be born with HIV/AIDS as well. Really, its not as different as you might think.

      • tgthree - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        There’s a key distinction here, though. Your friend made the decision on behalf of the children he’s choosing not to have. From the way you’ve phrased this, he chose not to have children because didn’t want THEM to suffer from this congenital defect, NOT because he didn’t want the rest of the world to have to suffer the presence of these children consuming resources that could be expended elsewhere.

    • tgthree - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:51 PM

      Where are the limits of this line of thinking? A definition of “genetic defect” is required because, theoretically, we all have “genetic defects” of some character or another.

      Let’s take a highly simplified example: say you have two people who are fully aware that they have relatively low IQs, but are nonetheless contributors to society in some say, and they are proud of that (and rightfully so). But their children are also relatively likely to have low IQs as well, and thus aren’t improving the world’s genetic pool in that respect.

      Would you say that, for the sake of the rest of the world, they should choose not to have children? After all, those children are going to be contributing to an overpopulation problem, where the resources they consume could be consumed by children with “greater mental capacity.”

      Would you say that? And where is the logical conclusion? Because to stick with IQ as a completely arbitrary measure, nearly anyone on earth could look around and say, “You know what, there’s another pair that could produce better children, so we should forgo our children so that the world’s resources can be optimized for use by the “best” children.”

      I ask genuinely where the line is…what circumstances render a couple’s decision to have children “selfish”?

  3. iftheshoefits2 - Mar 29, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    So, you’re saying if there’s a chance that you could have kids who aren’t perfect, don’t have them?

    Too bad your parents didn’t have the wisdom of your logic.

    • paperlions - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:19 AM

      There is a giant chasm between perfect and knowing that you have a 50% chance of having kids that will require a kidney transplant every 20 yrs…and that you will essentially be requiring your healthy kids (if any) to be donors. Hope you didn’t hurt yourself on the landing.

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 29, 2011 at 9:12 AM

        Just ask the people who were so “selfishly” concieved if they would rather just not exist. It’s that simple. I’m sure they would appreciate your “wisdom”.

  4. Jonny 5 - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    Well I for one say Eckstien shall forever be known, and agreed upon universally as a “Scrappy Gamer”. He’s also pretty fly for a white guy, and gives 110 to 1000% in every game he plays.

    I know people who have done this for others, and I know people who’ve been the recipient of that type of kindness. There is no other thing that has given me more hope for humanity than that act. Mostly everything else we humans do kinda says the opposite, but that’s a whole other conversation isn’t it?

  5. pwf207 - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    I was pretty certain this was the case, just a hunch but from the Florida Hospital’s history page “It’s hard to believe that mosquitoes were once far more prevalent than residents in Central Florida. But that was the case in 1908 when the leaders of the Adventist church put their boundless faith and limited funds into building their first healthcare facility in the region… Though the technologies and treatments have changed dramatically over the years, one thing remains constant: our mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ.” so there was no way that the Ecksteins were gonna get in the way of G-d’s plan for them and their kids.

    but don’t anyone concern themselves about 2050 when a billion people are without secure access to clean water. or other issues like climate change or energy consumption or anything else that requires sacrifice and coordinated effort to address.

  6. bklynbaseball - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    You know what people?? How about just being grateful for your own relative health, and an “Atta-boy” for the Eckstein baseball brothers, and move on?? Geez.

    • aaronmoreno - Mar 29, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      Yeah, it has to be hard to have that kind of certainty, even when you know it’s the right thing to do. I commend the Eckstein family. Good people.

  7. pwf207 - Mar 29, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    because this story is just a few steps from being this case, and the problem of emotion guided short term-ism and group favoritism is the cause of all human suffering and only a critical, logical and dispassionate approach will lead to viable solutions. sabrmetrics is the application of this philosophy in the realm of baseball and the same approach should be applied rigorously to other realms.

    • aaronmoreno - Mar 29, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      Uh, linking to a Peter Singer article isn’t going to help you argue that you aren’t a eugenicist.

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