Kyle Boddy at Driveline Baseball

Winning Isn’t Everything

The end goal of every baseball team should be to win, I think that the majority of us can agree on that point. These days in Major League Baseball it doesn’t always seem like that’s what most teams are doing. Every day we are inundated with sound bites from one team or another’s front office telling us that they can’t really afford to win this year, or the next, or the year after that, or ever really. That’s why it is energizing to see a team attempting to win despite the possibility of failure looming large.

The Cincinnati Reds signing Kyle Boddy to be Director of Pitching Initiatives is the move of a team trying to win. The Reds have made moves the past couple of years with the goal of winning more games and putting a better product on the field. I can’t fault them for trying, and hiring the man behind Driveline Baseball, a renowned baseball pitching factory, is another step towards winning. The question people need to ask of the Reds is whether winning is worth embracing someone like Boddy? Does winning matter so much that it’s okay to embrace someone who has openly stated he didn’t care that one of his clients was a convicted child molester?

The name Luke Heimlich isn’t offered up much, if at all, on this site. Heimlich is important when it comes to the Reds newest hire because he remains a client of the Reds new Director of Pitching Initiatives. Boddy never stopped Heimlich from being his client, even after the facts of Heimlich being a convicted child molester were made public. That Heimlich found work in both of Mexico’s premier professional leagues, Liga Mexicana de Béisbol and Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, is thanks almost wholly to Mexican scouts seeing Heimlich throw at a Driveline Pro Day.

Boddy has also offered up nothing more than terse or sarcastic responses when asked about the actions of his most famous client, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer. Bauer has engaged in multiple instances of transphobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, and bullying online. This is all documented and has been in the public eye. The whole time Boddy stood by his client. To the best of my knowledge Boddy never offered any apologies for Bauer’s actions nor did he ever take responsibility himself for keeping Bauer on as a client. Willful ignorance is the modus operandi for how Kyle Boddy carries himself, and it’s only fitting that he would now be aligned with a league that carries on like willful ignorance is its mission statement.

MLB has many issues, and I will own up to not being much of a fan of how the league conducts business or of the way that its Commissioner, Rob Manfred, treats baseball. We can disagree on labor disputes and rule changes, but common human decency is not an area where we should find ourselves in disagreement. Kyle Boddy, Luke Heimlich, and Trevor Bauer are part of the problem, but they are not the root of the problem. The root, in this case, is MLB itself and the league’s continued efforts to ignore wrongdoing at every turn. Why would Boddy put up any sort of resistance to taking on clients like Heimlich or Bauer when the league has no issue being associated with them?

Trevor Bauer should not be the face of MLB, and yet this past fall Bauer began hosting a show on MLB’s SiriusXM channel. I shouldn’t have to hop online and find out that Luke Heimlich is appearing in an Arizona Fall League game because MLB didn’t bother to tell his LMP team, Cañeros de Los Mochis, that he couldn’t attend. MLB controls what people think of the sport of baseball and it manages who and what is put in front of the fan for them to consume. Manfred and company are making a conscious decision that it is okay for a transphobic individual like Bauer to be broadcast on their radiowaves. They are telling member clubs that it’s perfectly fine for them to go and sign Heimlich by allowing him on the same field as some of the most highly touted prospects in affiliated ball.

These aren’t slip-ups by MLB and its officers. This is the same organization that, outside of some disciplinary action in a few cases, ignores the homophobia of Daniel Murphy, the domestic abuse of Aroldis Chapman, Addison Russell, and Steven Wright. Even if discipline is meted out the players soon return and go back to being promoted by the league and its many arms. The evidence of these players’ actions are right in front of every team executive and every member of the MLB front office, and yet business continues as usual for the teams and the league itself.

The name of the game in MLB is winning, which may mean in an owner’s pocketbook as opposed to the win column of the newspaper. Alas, winning is winning and it doesn’t matter how one gets there as long as they don’t lose. The Reds want to win and they believe that Kyle Boddy will help them reach the promised land once more. It’s easy for the Reds to ignore the people Boddy has worked with and the actions he has deemed to not be worthy of caring about. The Reds and MLB can continue to be willfully ignorant just like Boddy, the league and its clubs are neverending champions in that realm.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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