The Value Of An Athlete’s Outburst – Or Why Josh Donaldson Was Right

Even though the Toronto Blue Jays are leading the American League East with 69 wins and 52 losses, the Boston Red Sox (67-52) and Baltimore Orioles (66-53) are nipping on their heels.  The Jays have needed to play some fantastic baseball to keep themselves ahead of their competition in a year that many analysts are picking the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series.

Three time all-star third baseman and thirty year old Josh Donaldson is one of Toronto’s favorite baseball players these days.  The “Bringer of Rain” (Twitter handle @BringerOfRain20) has torched pitching from the right side of the plate for the blue birds for the past one and a half seasons earning the $28.65 million for 2 years contract he signed for 2016 and 2017.

His numbers on paper prove that his MVP season of 2015 was no fluke. Through 8 /17, he has 450 at bats, .289 batting average, 96 Runs (tied for league lead), 130 hits, 26 doubles, 5 triples, 28 home runs (8th in the league), 80 runs batted in and 6 stolen bases to go along with a .390 on-base percentage as well as a .556 slugging percentage.

With the pressure on the club and on Donaldson to keep up the wins and numbers it’s only natural that someone is going to snap at some point. Whether it’s a frustration with a call or getting upset with a play that he makes – athletes are human.

Thursday, August 17th, 2016 – Josh Donaldson showed he was human at Yankee Stadium. Donaldson went 1-4 with two strikeouts and as he was walking back to the Jays dugout he slammed his bat down.  Unfortunately, Donaldson’s bat was close to the dugout – dangerously close.  Jays Manager John Gibbons turned and approached Donaldson as he put away his equipment in the bat rack.

Donaldson was clearly agitated with HIMSELF and didn’t want to talk about it but he screamed back at Gibbons.  Jays star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki stepped in between the two hot heads and separated them between anymore damage could be done – a la Reggie Jackson-Billy Martin in the Fenway Park dugout.  Although I think Gibbons could hold his own, he’s also had his fair share of confrontations with players too.

Afterward Donaldson tried to soothe the situation by saying after the game to the assembled media that “Gibby” wanted to know what kind of cologne he was wearing and it’s “this new Tom Ford.”  Donaldson told him to back up and he’d give him some after the game.  Donaldson even went so far as to take pictures of it and Tweet it out.  Gibbons for his part said the argument was over bat selection.

Some websites have taken to calling Donaldson a “cry baby” for his anticts.  Insisting that an all-star baseball player should never act like that.

I’ve tired over the years of us calling athletes “cry babies” or “whiners” because they strike out and throw their bat or snap it over their knee.  But when non-athletes act out in anger and throw something we don’t have millions of people showing up at our job or our house yelling at us and posting tweets calling us cry babies.   Some will say that it comes with being paid millions of dollars to play a game, but not all athletes are being paid millions of dollars and no one deserves to be abused.

Everyone has emotions and they can’t always contain those emotions no matter how hard and how long they try. Sometimes those emotions are going to bubble out.  When pitchers strike out someone and scream into their glove why do we not call them out?

I understand that Donaldson could have hurt someone and that’s the unfortunate thing about the situation.  To call him out for throwing a bat in disgust at striking out however is ridiculous.  This is a proud man who puts a tremendous amount of pressure on himself to compete and succeed.  It’s not just him but athletes in all sports.  We have to start recognizing that they are all humans and they all have feelings and emotions.  The moment we put them on pedestals and strip away the human element we turn them into robots that have no heart and no soul.  Athletes bleed and athletes hurt.  We see it on their faces and we see it when they get injured so why can’t we get past calling them childish names like cry babies when they do something we can’t do?  So he threw a bat?   Haven’t you thrown something in disgust?  Haven’t you said something in disgust?  Let’s magnify your life and put it on television for a day.  Tweet it, Instagram it, Facebook it and stream it around the world.  Now – you tell me – can you respect Josh Donaldson just a little bit more?   Let him get it out he’s only human.