- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Jim Bowden has expressed compassion for the $10 million conscientious objector who refuses to play in the outfield.

His is a confusing deployment of the word, even in a city stuffed with Capitol Hill gas bags who twist the language to obfuscate their true political intentions.

Compassion is usually a feeling of sympathy you summon for someone who has been touched by misfortune.

A death in the family comes to mind. A second base/left field predicament does not.

As far as anyone knows, the only misfortune in the life of Alfonso Soriano is a manager who had the temerity to write left field instead of second base next to his name on the lineup card, which, of course, led to the four-time All-Star taking a timeout.

A person could have a number of reactions to that act of insubordination: anger, extreme irritation, contempt and indignation, to name a few.

Compassion does not rank in the top 100 of reactions after a $10 million athlete has packed up his bats, balls and gloves in a snit.

The only question that comes to mind is: Is this error-prone second baseman out of his mind?

You just do not expect to see a 30-year-old man set to make $10 million this season acting like a 12-year-old tyke who takes his ball home from the playground if things are not going his way.

Perhaps that is what the Nats general manager was attempting to say and it just got jumbled in the dissemination.

Perhaps Bowden has compassion for a 30-year-old man behaving as if he were 12, because 30-year-old men behaving as if they are 12 are fairly pathetic.

And Soriano’s refusal to play ball meets the definition of pathetic.

Nobody likes a pathetic 30-year-old man, which is a tough way to go in life.

In that case then, you could feel compassion for Soriano, as Bowden does.

Against the prospect of Soriano going on the “disqualified list,” Bowden said, “We do not want it to come to that. We have compassion for him. But … we have a team to run.”

It is an arduous situation, no doubt.

Frank Robinson, the old school manager of the Nats, did not play in the days of $10 million divas, although Jim Palmer was one of his teammates.

Robinson came up with the belief that a managerial lineup card was almost sacred.

A player checked to see what was what on it, and that was it.

Soriano is from the school of self-indulgence.

He undoubtedly would prefer Robinson to put the lineup card to a team vote before each game.

Or perhaps Soriano would like to be able to take the lineup card to arbitration before each game.

Whatever his deal is — maybe he was dropped on his head as an infant — Soriano has a simple decision ahead: $10million to play left field vs. $0.00 to play dunce at home.


Let’s try to study the complexities of this daunting dilemma: $10 million to play left field vs. $0.00 to play dunce at home.

To be fair to Soriano, a left fielder’s quality of life is not the best.

A left fielder mostly stands around a lot and swats gnats. Sometimes he spits to break up the tedium.

His biggest challenge is staying awake in the rare event a ball is hit in his direction.

His assignment is not unlike the one before a commuter waiting at a bus stop. The commuter also stands around a lot and swats gnats. A commuter also must endeavor to stay awake in the rare event a bus shows up as scheduled.

This is no way for the Nationals to be going into Opening Day.

It is never good for a baseball team to have a player who is uncertain about the value of being a $10 million left fielder, no matter how much compassion the general manager has for him.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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