A blurb in John Fay’s “Reds Insider” column today bothers me. Tremendously

It reads:

HOLDEN PATTERN: It looks as though Josh Holden, the Reds’ minor-leaguer/Army officer, could join the farm system shortly.

“The Army adopted a new program that allows athletes to play if they have a pro contract,” said Grant Griesser, the Reds’ assistant director of player development. “We hope he’ll join the Reds by the end of May.”

Holden, 24, was signed out of tryout camp last July. He hit .348 in 26 games with the Gulf Coast Reds. If he’s cleared, he’ll go to extended spring training. The Reds then will decide where to send him.

Holden, a West Point graduate, spent 10 days with the Reds during spring training while he was on leave from Fort Sill in Oklahoma.

This guy, after spending 4 years at West Point and received a world class education. He made a commitment to serve his country for 6 years, then decides that rather than keep his word and keep a commitment that he made, he’s going to opt out to play professional baseball.

I blame the military for offering these types of programs which give these individuals the way to get out early, rather than expecting them to keep their word.

But even more, I blame the individuals who do so. These people whose word means nothing, who have no sense of honor, who only seem care about themselves.

I served 4 years for my country. I’m damn proud of every day of it. I believe there is no higher calling or more important duty than to be willing to defend your country and our way of life.

It saddens me to see people that have no sense of honor or duty, that make a commitment, then break it. It makes me even sadder that it doesn’t seem to bother anyone but me.

10 Responses

  1. Nate

    I think your criticism of Josh is quite unfair. It was the army’s decision to enact this policy, presumably because they think these athletes are more valuable as recruiters. Josh isn’t opting out of his commitment — he’s just choosing one of the ways the army is letting him fulfill it. If that’s what the army wants, how is Josh betraying anyone by doing this?

  2. Bill

    Just because the Army, for PR reasons, made enacted a policy, doesn’t mean it’s right for someone to break their word. That’s the way I see what this guy is doing. He gave his word that in engage for a college education to give 6 years of his life to the Army and protecting his country.

    He decided playing baseball was more important.

    Just because you can legally do something doesn’t mean it’s right.

  3. BCubb

    It kind of weakens the recruiting message if the athlete is seen as not carrying the load. Even Elvis and Ted Williams served completely. I wonder though. Hasn’t there always been a division between the front line and the rear echelon? Some will be fighting in Fallujah, while others will be in Japan, others in the Army band, and others in Washington.

  4. Bill

    Thanks for the article, it does explain it in more detail.

    The article doesn’t cover what bothers me the most and that’s the fact that these guys gave their word and are going back on it. At a time when his classmates are fighting and dying, he’s decided it’s better to go play ball.

    I think of Roger Staubach, who served his comittment (including a tour in VN), and went on to a HOF career.

  5. Nate

    Bill, I respect your view, but I don’t think you really addressed my point. I certainly wasn’t saying that as long as Josh did nothing illegal, everything’s fine.

    My point was that Josh hasn’t broken his word, contrary to what you keep saying, and thus hasn’t done anything unethical. Presumably he gave his word to fulfill his duty to the army, and he’s now doing so in a manner approved of by the army. As you obviously know, not everyone ends up fighting on the frontlines. Why is working as a recruiter worse than, say, working on a training base? The army gets a great recruiter, and Josh’s education expenses get paid by the Reds. Josh fulfills his military duties in a way that allows him to pursue a baseball career. Where’s the harm?

    Obviously, Pat Tillman was a remarkable person, but what he did was above and beyond the call of duty. That’s precisely why it’s so admirable. It’s surely unfair to demand that everyone live up to his example.

  6. Bill

    First, recruiters aren’t originally trained to be recruiters. It’s something they’re assigned to after their original job has been done. In the Navy, it’s a shore duty assignment, which rotates with sea duty.

    Second, I see it as breaking his word because he’s not doing what the Army trained him to do. I see it as breaking his word b/c many of the men and women he attended the Academy with are fighting and dying today in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, while he’s taking an out to go play baseball.

    I see it as breaking a committment because he didn’t go to West Point to be a recruiter or a ball player. He went to be a soldier.

  7. Eric

    Honestly, I can’t see where Holden went wrong here. If he had demanded that this rule had been made, so he could go play baseball, then I would understand why someone would be upset with him.

    However, Holden is able to do this because the Army is allowing him to, and it’s not like he’s ditching the Army either. He still has six years of commitment to fulfill.

    Pat Tillman was a special person, and I would say that 99.999% of people would not have made that same decision.

    I say good luck to Holden in following his dream.

  8. Bill

    Eric, you have a right to your opinion. Mine is that your committment is to what you agreed to do. Rather than doing what he was trained to do, an Army officer, he’s become a PR tool, nothing more.

    And while his classmates are fighting, he’s playing baseball.

    It has nothing to do with what the Army will allow you to do, it has to do with what you agreed to do and taking the easy way out.