(Photo by Getty Images. Elijah Dukes shows off his guns.)
Mike Silva's NY Baseball Digest caught up with NiShea Dukes, Elijah Dukes' wife -- who, interestingly enough, asked NYBD for the opportunity to defend her estranged husband and paint a different picture of a guy who has been frequently characterized as a volatile a-hole. It's a fascinating read, especially considering the source, and the history. Here's just a taste of the Elijah love-fest:
"I am very saddened about the situation because I know baseball is Elijah’s life and that’s all he knows. It gives me a discomfort feeling to know that in the public eye there is such an ugly picture painted of him. I wish he could erase his past, but no one can erase their past so he must move forward and try to make changes where changes need to be made. Hopefully, I can help him through this troubling time in his life."
"Elijah and I have definitely had our differences, but I have forgiven him for everything we have experienced as a couple and now its all about our kids. He has grown so much as a father and an individual, no one could even imagine. He is able to communicate much more effectively. To be honest, Elijah is a huge teddy bear that I think intimidates people with his size. He may say things, but I have learned he doesn’t mean any harm."
(NiShea Dukes, via NY Baseball Digest, 3/24/2010)
Exactly one week later, and we're still scratching our heads around here over the decision by the Nats to cut ties with Dukes -- a decision defended up-and-down-and-sideways by the organization as "strictly a baseball decision".
SI.com's Jon Heyman had this little snippet about Dukes in his notes column today hinting at that little question of clubhouse chemistry again:
While there was no one incident that triggered his release, the Nationals felt it would improve clubhouse chemistry for him to be gone. Plus, he seemed to have lost his power suddenly. (Jon Heyman, via SI.com, 3/24/2010)
Loss of power, huh? Admittedly, when the news broke yesterday about the arrest of the VA-based steroid peddling chiropractor and his connection to last year's PED bust in Florida -- and whispers of a connection to the Nationals (a connection promptly shot down by Stan Kasten) -- fairly or unfairly (definitely unfairly) the first name that came to mind at the offices of the Nationals Enquirer is a certain recently released injury prone ex-Nat from the Tampa area. After all, his name was dragged through the steroid rumor mill back in 2007 by one NiShea Dukes, via her divorce attorney:
NiShea Dukes' attorney, Catherine Real, said she has no direct evidence that Elijah Dukes is taking steroids, but dramatic changes in his physique and his personality make his wife suspicious.
(via Tampa Bay Online, 9/17/2007)
Ah ha! Is this the key to the "baseball decision"? Conspiracy! Ben Goessling is soliciting questions from Nationals fans for Mike Rizzo's next blog post on MASN. Here's one: "Did Elijah Dukes ever received treatment from Dr. Douglas Owen Nagel?"
No way. Dumb question.
Now, to be clear, Elijah Dukes has never tested positive for steroids or other banned PEDs during his career. But it certainly would make it easier for us to finally come to grips with his release if there was some sort of connection with Dr. Nagel. Oh well, guess we'll just have to learn to live with a strictly baseball decision.