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When a Player's Personal Business Becomes None of Our Business

Courtesy CBS Sports

It all started with an ill-timed, seemingly ill-intentioned tweet.

Mr. Samson, in case you don't know, is the former President of the Miami Marlins, a position he held from 2002

Probably also how he felt after reading his mentions on October 12.

until becoming one of Derek Jeter's many casualties in 2017. You might also remember him being voted out first on a season of Survivor after a really bad strategic decision to go after the most muscle-bound guy on his "Brains" tribe as the "weakest." No, he really did this. I think he's also some type of sports radio personality now or podcaster or something. Whatever.

Anyway, Samson's tweet started a furor on the Twitter website, leading to what the kids these days call a "ratio"--a high number of angry replies vs. a very low number of likes. Shoot, I also angrily replied. I'm not immune. The reaction isn't the point here, however, but rather this--how deep into players' personal lives is too deep before we say our opinions no longer count and we need to zip it?

DISCLAIMER: I'm not talking about criminal behavior, domestic violence, racism, or other behavior deficiencies that we as fans should be privy to, and that MLB and other professional sports leagues have chosen to and I believe should continue to address. General human decency needs to be a priority among professional athletes.

What I am talking about, though, are the kinds of decisions such as the one Hudson made--decisions to prioritize family over an athlete's job regardless of the on-field ramifications. We had our own instance of this in Cubland this season when 2016 World Series MVP (people forget that) Ben Zobrist took a leave of absence and went on the restricted list to deal with a personal family matter. As a mom, my first concern was the health and welfare of the little Zobrists. As faceless, nameless randos on social media, though, there were a rash of tweets and posts that looked way too much like this for my liking immediately after the announcement:

I mean... wut? More information has trickled out about the Zobrist situation since Ben took his leave of absence, but was it really our business as fans to ask why he was going to be out? Why wasn't "personal reasons" good enough for us? You might be thinking, "I pay his salary through my support of the Cubs!" That's... kind of

It's almost like the Nats had another effective reliever in the bullpen.

not true. I mean, I guess it sort of is, but if you want to look at it that way, then you should also be concerned about what kind of leave the ticket takers, concessions workers, parking lot attendants and hot dog vendors are taking. But you're not, because their absence doesn't impact whether or not your favorite team wins, and that's really the rub here, isn't it? Just like it was with Samson, who was concerned that Hudson's absence from one game with the Nationals would cause them to lose the NLCS against the Cardinals (spoiler alert: it didn't). Besides, if your employer has customers or clients, by this logic they also pay your salary and should be privy to know why you call in sick when you're really playing hooky to go to Wrigley.

Then there were these kinds of fans--the ones who, after the presumed reasons behind Zobrist's absence started to trickle out, had some advice for Ben:

Objectively, Zobrist's absence probably did hurt the Cubs' season. He was the high contact, professional hitter the team really missed for most of the year, and when he did come back, he was clearly rusty on the defensive end of things and made a few very costly errors. That said, Ben had permission from his boss, his boss's boss, and his boss's Commissioner to take his leave. OH, and did I mention he wasn't being paid while he was out? And his pay cut allowed the Cubs to sign Craig Kimbrel? (We don't have to talk about Kimbrel's performance--he'll be good next year! I'd bet on it!)

Baseball is a team sport, and in Zobrist's absence... and Hudson's... it's up to their teammates to take up the slack. Hudson's did while Zobrist's kind of didn't. Ultimately, though, both men did what they felt was best by leaving their teams to take care of important family business, which shows TWTW at life. At the end of the day, their jobs were there when they got back, and it's a tremendously bad look when we as fans object when a player prioritizes his family over a game that will still be there for all of us when we wake up the next morning.


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