When I got the press release from the Arizona Diamondbacks that said that TV broadcaster and former player Mark Grace had requested a leave of absence from the team "to seek personal assistance," my heart went out to him. Based on knowledge of life and sports and athletes and former athletes, some sort of problem with drinking seemed like the obvious reason for the time off.
I'm sure for many people, especially longtime fans of the team, the reaction was the same. It seems that everyone knows someone who struggled with an addiction of some sort.
But when the next wave of news came, stating that he had been arrested for a DUI for the second time in as many years, the reaction changes. That is an act that society views as one of the most heinous of betrayal to your fellow men and women. You just don't do it.
It is the sort of thing that will mark you by the general public and a pariah and hopeless case to help.
What makes things worse is that Grace happens to be a wealthy man. He can afford to never put himself in that situation. Now he has embarrassed and betrayed the organization he works for and is a public figure for -- and it is the second time he has done this.
What will the public say? Many will hope he loses his job in the TV booth. Many will say he deserves it. The team is left is a difficult situation.
The organization is very much like a family. It is easy from afar to say you just send him on his way. But he is a beloved member of that family.
There is no excuse for what he did. Once is just a stupid decision, a momentary lapse of judgement. A second time means there is a problem.
Much like a couple, if one strays and betrays the other, it is not uncommon to see the other take the offender back. But what if the one that strayed goes out and repeats the betrayal? No one blames the other for sending the offender packing. But no one is really happy about the situation. It is sad for all involved.
And even still, it has happened more than a few times that the offender is welcomed back painfully because something changes in the cheater. The light bulb goes on. The two work it out because the truth is they are better together than apart. The key, though is the change in heart.
Drinking and driving is never acceptable. Everyone knows how bad it is. People still do it, knowing the consequences. Why? Because when you are drinking, you lose the ability to easily make sound decisions.
Everyone knows that betraying your partner is a bad idea. Yet it still happens. Why? In the moment, decision-making skills have been compromised.
The one who offends must learn to avoid the situation altogether. Don't drive to start with. Go with someone else. Give someone else the keys and have someone in charge of calling a cab. Or...don't drink to start with.
We don't know what type of relationship the Diamondbacks and Mark Grace will have now. Is the team fed up and will they cut ties, despite his popularity and what he means to the team overall, going back to his days as a player and part of their one championship? Or did Grace change, meaning that there is hope for the future for him and the team together?
The team's release states that Grace himself requested the leave of absence to seek assistance. Perhaps that came after the team told him that is how it had to be done for the relationship to continue. Maybe he is truly seeking help on his own.
If that is the case, then we may not have seen the last of Gracie.
I don't know what the right answer is. I just know that it isn't as easy or as cut-and-dried as it looks. I am outraged at the irresponsibility of yet another public figure, but I also feel for him because it appears to be a real problem. I certainly hope he gets things worked out -- he needs to for the quality of his life, not just for whether he gets to keep his job or not.
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