Sharing a common background, Mike and I share some common values: family, hard work, humility, authenticity, stoicism, and, perhaps most of all, guilt.
Oh, yes, guilt above all. For decades, guilt has powered the rise and fall of great cities and industries from Lake Michigan to the Red River. And we learned yesterday that despite every good intention, Mike Rizzo feels terrible about cutting Elijah Dukes:
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo reiterated Friday afternoon that outfielder Elijah Dukes was given his unconditional release two days ago because of lack of performance on the field.
Rizzo was irritated by reports that he had a dislike for Dukes. Rizzo pointed out that he did a lot for Dukes on and off the field after the young outfielder was acquired from the Rays following the 2007 season.
"The decision to release Elijah was a tough decision -- not only for me, but for [manager] Jim Riggleman, too," Rizzo said. "I've known Elijah since the beginning when he first arrived here. I was the guy who he came to with any problems that he had. I was the guy who always cared about him.
How many MLB executives can you imagine seeking out a reporter two days after the fact to insist he really cares about a player he just cut?
Now, non-Midwestern Catholics may think that I'm implying that Mike is re-thinking whether he make the right call thing. Not so. I'm sure he's 100% confident that he's right. But that's now how it works in our tribe. We do the right thing, work hard, live honestly, and we still have to feel guilty about it. I know, it seems strange to outsiders, and it's not the best thing for overall life-expectancy, but it's the way our parents raised us, and it works for us.