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About rooting for, against Brett Myers

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Brett Myers
Brett Myers

We all remember Ramon Castro, and maybe fondly.

The jolly prankster was assembled with a barrel chest, cinder-block jaw and a whole bunch of other mismatched parts. He caught Mark Buehrle's perfect game without prior knowledge of his curveball, and he hit some impressive homers -- and singles -- that helped him set a new standard for White Sox backup catchers. His South Side (and MLB) career ended quietly with the broken finger, but he exceeded the low standards and demands for the position.

Six years before he came to the White Sox, Castro, then a Florida Marlin, was arrested and charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault and unlawful restraint after a woman in Pittsburgh accused him of rape. He pleaded not guilty to those charges, and eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor indecent assault.

Searching through the archives here, the incident wasn't mentioned when the Sox traded for Castro in 2009, or at any other time. I referred to them in my post at Sox Machine when running through his history, but I had only known about them because Vlad, an editor at Bucs Dugout and Baseball Think Factory regular, made a point to mention the rape charges whenever Casto's name came up. For instance, in the BTF thread about the Castro trade:

Props to the Mets for getting rid of the rapist, and boo to the White Sox for picking him up.

Down further in the thread, he offers some reasons why he believed in the validity of the charges, but without a trial, any real details are unknown by the public. So Castro was sentenced to a year of probation, and by the time he came to the White Sox, the backlash from the charges had almost entirely subsided.

Brett Myers, on the other hand, has carried baggage. Tons of it. Then again, the details of his assault are very much public. It also happened six years before he came to the White Sox.

While with the Phillies back in 2006, a drunken argument on a sidewalk in front of a Boston hotel ended with witnesses telling police Myers hit his wife hand-to-face and pulled her by her hair. He pleaded not guilty to assault and battery charges, and he denied striking his wife. He was never tried, as his wife agreed to an affidavit showing that she didn't want her husband prosecuted. Nobody saw any evidence of coercion.

They're still married; his wife said they "became closer" after the incident. But every once in a while, Myers' meatheadedness surfaces in other (safer) ways, whether it's calling a reporter a "retard" or lying about a subsequent black eye or being around a bar fight, which allows fans to easily connect the dots back to the guy who roughed up his wife. Even his Twitter account highlights a lack of self-awareness -- his handle is @TheOutlaw39, and his avatar is Kenny Powers. Or maybe he knows himself incredibly well.

Either way, he doesn't carry himself in a way that engenders forgiveness, and so he hasn't shed the "wife beater" tag. That was the first thing on the minds of many White Sox fans when Ken Rosenthal tweeted the trade, and that was similar to the reaction in Houston when the Astros became Myers' first non-Phillies team in 2010. The Astros checked it out and thought he had gotten past his problems, and Myers didn't cause any new ones in Houston. He gave them a good effort during his 2 1/2 years, and teammates and coaches praised him for his positive influence on the clubhouse.


Kenny Williams expects the same from Myers. During the conference call, Williams said he made the trade to reward the players for their effort so far, as well as to give the bullpen an experienced reliever, an intense competitor, and somebody who can teach the four remaining rookies about mixing their pitches.

He should help -- while his numbers aren't that impressive, they're skewed somewhat by two disastrous outings that accounted for 11 of the 17 runs he's allowed this season, but just four of the 92 outs he's recorded.

Whether fans will accept him is another matter, and one Williams can't particularly fixate on, considering Myers' price and the high stakes of contending for the AL Central pennant. His problems in Philadelphia didn't turn out to be problems in Houston, so the logic dictates that Chicago doesn't have to worry about them. The baseball sense works out.

Sox fans haven't had to worry much about thoroughly detestable actions. By and large, the White Sox seem to be solid citizens. Most of their problematic players didn't run afoul of basic human decency, unless you consider ignoring the media or bragging about bobbleheads mortal sins. Manny Ramirez was only around for a month.

Because Myers' problems are out there in big "punched his wife in the face" print, he poses a unique problem, even if Castro's no contest plea from 2003 suggests it's possible that Myers' history isn't unique here. At the very least, he isn't a feel-good story. Some fans may have forgiven him, and some fans may root against him with every fiber of their being and have every reason to do so. There are conflicts abound from investing emotions in a billion-dollar industry with talent so rare it sometimes receives fifth chances when ordinary people wouldn't get a second. Thankfully, we haven't had to deal with them much. Hopefully, not just out of ignorance.