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Remorse, Accountability and Rebuilding a Reputation

Mistakes are made. Every single day.

Those mistakes are the results of choices made, often poor ones. And those mistakes carry consequences. Punishment of varying degrees is one outcome. A tarnished reputation is another.

On Tuesday, it became public knowledge that Danny Duffy was charged with driving while intoxicated on Sunday. The details we know have Duffy unable to navigate the drive-thru lane of a Burger King in South Overland Park, early Sunday evening. He was cited for a DUI and released at the scene, taken away by a friend who arrived later.

In a statement Duffy gave to the assembled press, he expressed regret for the “distraction” and asked that people “let the facts shake out.” The implication one could read is there is more to the story than we already know, although these cases are usually cut and dry. You drink, you drive, you get arrested. The breathalyzer don’t lie.

Duffy is right, though. We should let the facts shake out. That in no way implies we should let him off the hook. It’s just that we should hear the facts first. In the meantime, it’s fodder for message boards and sports talk radio. Baseless speculation. It sucks and won’t be engaged in at this website. Such is the media environment of today where we can get directed to a slideshow of Duffy’s fast food order or a breathless “BREAKING NEWS!!!” post that barely contains enough information for a tweet. Get them clicks, I guess.

An indisputable fact is that Duffy has built a ton of goodwill in this city. From his proclamations to “Bury (him) a Royal” to his work with several charitable foundations, to the pennants he has helped bring to The K, he has been embraced by the fan base in general and the community as a whole. Those good works won’t go away because of this, and they shouldn’t. But, likewise, the DUI will forever be a part of his narrative.

That’s what happens when you make a life-altering mistake.

On Tuesday, after facing the media, Duffy quickly exited. There are legal matters pending, you know. General Manager Dayton Moore remained behind and discussed what he knew of the situation and when he found out about what had happened on Sunday evening.

Moore’s portion of the press conference had the tone of a parent who had been let down by his child. It was an odd moment. Consequences and accountability were mentioned, which was a good thing, but at the same time, there was a detour into the evils of pornography and the objectification of women. Who was surprised by this? It was kind of odd given the circumstances, but we’ve known Moore for over 10 years in this city. This is who he is. His faith matters a great deal to him and when someone he chooses to surround himself with makes a poor (and criminal) decision, it hurts him deeply. I’ve taken him to task on numerous occasions at various websites for some of the more bizarre things he’s said over time. Generally speaking, his chats with the media turn into something he doesn’t intend not because he doesn’t stay on message, but because he dives a little too deep into that message.

Aside from the evil of pornography, Moore’s tone was stunningly harsh.

Here, he just seemed wounded. Disappointed in one of his young players and perhaps worn down by a season that has – at times – spectacularly failed to live up to expectations. It seems Moore carries many of the same emotions of his team’s fan base.

Moments like this serve to remind us these ballplayers put on uniforms, not capes. They’re not heroes. They are men of a wide variety. Some are good. Some are not so good. Most have flaws.

The optics of this aren’t good. Forget the whole part about the season slipping away. This is a story about a young man who was impaired early on a Sunday evening while his team is returning home from a road trip.

If, when the facts shake out, it turns out there was more to Duffy’s story, that this was a cry for more meaningful help, we can take comfort in knowing he’s in the right organization. It’s been said time and again that the Royals, under Moore, are more family than franchise. If a player needs help, he will get it. Moore may be disappointed in this situation, but he’s never going to abandon someone who needs help. If Duffy needs help, he will receive it from the Royals and from Moore.

Writing posts like these suck. This blog is about how PECOTA hates the Royals and simulating 10,000,000 seasons in my spreadsheet. It’s not about trial dates and drive thru citations. Yet, here we are. Duffy made a mistake and will face the consequences and needs to be called out on the stupidity of drinking and driving. Through his actions and choices, he let down a ton of people. It will take some time to repair that damage. And he’s fortunate that’s all he has to do. As we know, there can be other, more serious consequences of getting behind the wheel while impaired.

Tuesday was just a bad day in the Royals universe. Shortly after the Duffy news broke, we learned that Rusty Kuntz would not be coaching first base for the rest of the season due to an issue with his vision. Then we learned Onelki Garcia would get the bump to the rotation as the Royals now have seven pitchers on the disabled list. This all played out while the Royals were parked at 43 consecutive scoreless innings on offense.

I never though we would be invoking the Bell Axiom in 2017: Never say things can’t get worse.

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