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Let's not make character impressions on Dee Gordon after PED suspension

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If you do not know an athlete or person, you really should not be making character judgments on that person. Let's not jump to conclusions with Dee Gordon as well.

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 80-game suspension for Dee Gordon for taking two banned substances is a disappointing one for the Miami Marlins. Fans are disappointed because Gordon is a fan favorite and beloved in Miami. His attitude on the field is that of fun, and he appears to enjoy himself. Those are presumed aspects of Gordon's personality, although part of that could simply be that most people assume speedsters are "having fun out there." When was the last time your were told that a guy who made his living on speed was "going through the motions?"

Miami is also upset for various reasons, but it will not shun Gordon for this mistake.

"Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him, and we support him," Marlins president David Samson said.

"That said, I do not like, or condone, what he did. He's an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It's a huge, huge disappointment. To the kids, to our fans, to his teammates, and to everyone in our organization who works hard every single day to put a product on the field and off the field that all Miamians will be proud of."

This is an appropriate response for a team, but it should also be an appropriate response for the fan base. Prior to this incident, the fan base showered Gordon with affection about how he played the game "the right way" and always hustled and worked hard. Those things may all very well be true, and I'm sure to some extent they are. But now with the suspension, you are getting some of the opposite reaction. Fish Stripes reader themint makes this comment:

Not surprised. Was a bad decisions to extend Gordon in the first place.

Back in December, when the Marlins were reported to be seeking a long-term contract with Gordon, I commented that such a decision would not be wise for the organization. Gordon is not what you want in a professional baseball player. He is a clown. He’s a childish, immature player (his basketball-dunking celebration during post-game interviews is perfect example of this). The guys a joke and the Marlins should have traded him in the off-season, as I suggested.

This may have already been themint's opinion on Gordon for some time, as he suggests. There are going to be others who turn on Gordon and demonize him for this suspension. As a result, they are going to make comments on that player's character, making him sound immature, or shady, or all sorts of other negative tones. Exactly the kind of negative tones that you would expect from a populace that has been taught to vilify steroid use.

I urge everyone to stop. This is a human being.

Trust me, I know it's ironic that the "numbers guy" that people have recently vilified for being "disrespectful" to guys like Gordon is urging us to hold our tongues because this baseball-playing automaton is actually a human being. However, unlike my arguments, we are basing a large assumption (a person's overall character) on a small amount of data:

- He tested positive for performance enhancing drugs sometime this spring.
- He is an individual who "has fun" on the baseball field
- He's said all the right, appropriate things on interviews before

Those three things are a blip of data about a person whom we have never met or spoken to. To truly get a sense of a player's character, I would suggest that we would have to know more about the person as a person and not as a baseball player. You are not who you are on your job 100 percent of the time, and I know I'm not either. To make an assumption of a person's character based on his job activities seems off.

But what about the PED use, which is clearly cheating? Well, there is the obvious argument from Gordon's side that he did not take anything willfully. As with all of these cases, this should be considered but taken with a grain of salt. But even in willfully cheating, is Gordon some maniacally evil person? Or is he the guy Grant Brisbee of SB Nation describes?

You are Dee Gordon, the son of a successful major leaguer. You are not a successful major leaguer yet, even though your entire life has revolved around baseball. Going to the clinics, doing the summer leagues, playing for a community college for a shot at the D-I, going to a NAIA D-II when that doesn't work out, proving yourself enough to get taken in the fourth round, ahead of Stanford kids, Arizona State kids who were heavily recruited out of high school. Now you're in the minors. And you've proven that you can get a bat on the ball, and you've proven beyond a doubt that you can run like hell after that.

You get to the majors, and you're first panel of a Charles Atlas ad. There's no way until you can hit at least a few doubles and do as many pushups as Omar Vizquel. Scouts kick sand in your face. You hit .234 with a .298 slugging percentage in your debut.

What do you do?

[snip]

Gordon was just a skinny kid who knew exactly how to get where he'd been training for his whole life. It was by doing this, that, skulking in the shadows, doing more this, more that. Everything else was the same.

What do you do?

No one is condoning this action. If Gordon took this willingly, then he did cheat. And yes, he should not have. But you know what? That still does not tell you who Gordon is as a person. It does not tell you that he is immature, or selfish, or dastardly, or any other word you might associate with your vision of a PED user in the baseball world today.

He is a person we have never met. This is another data point, and this is one that points in a negative direction. But let's not let one important data point sour the entire data set.

Gordon seems like a nice guy. I've never talked to him, other than when he flippantly tweeted that I should hit for him since I discussed a pathway to sustained hitting success for him (strike out less!). He may have cheated here (the expert opinion is that he probably did). It does not make him a victim of a flawed era of baseball nor does it make him a villainous traitor of our trust. It makes him a flawed human being, like everyone else.

I have read many comments on Fish Stripes since I took over as manager of the site in late 2011. There were many of them with which I did not agree. Never once did I then post a scathing rebuttal attacking a poster rather than the poster's comments / actions. I would never claim to know something about who you are or how your past has shaped you as a person based on a handful of comments on a baseball blog. That's silly!

Yet people are so willing to do this based on baseball, in both positive and negative directions. A guy "has fun out there," well he's a great role model and a fantastic person to be with! A player gets caught using PED's, well he's a cheater and a liar and should be mistreated as such!

I don't condone Gordon for his actions; if he did it willfully, it is clearly against baseball's policy. However, can we really judge Gordon the person based on this? There is a way to separate the two, and I urge everyone to follow this approach rather than attack a person's character after watching him play a children's game for money.