Watching Chad Gaudin is weird. If you haven’t heard, Gaudin was arrested in January after groping a woman who was lying on a gurney in a Las Vegas emergency room. He was arrested at the time and was recently charged with lewdness under Nevada law. But he’s still pitching for the Giants, which poses some interesting questions: do we root for him? Do we root for the Giants while he’s pitching?
The first, sad truth is that most of the ballplayers we root for are not the upstanding citizens we’d probably like them to be. Rumor has it that the vast, vast majority of baseballs players cheat on their wives, and for someone to think that their favorite player is somehow exempt from this behavior is just wishful thinking. Ballplayers are generally accepted to be immature, testosterone-driven boys with large amounts of money and freedom, and their teammates and the front office seem to put up with their wacky antics the majority of the time.
We don’t know just what the clubhouse reaction was to Gaudin’s news: obviously he’s still pitching, and to my knowledge no player has gone out of their way to condemn his actions. And this isn’t exactly rare; plenty of our superstar heroes go and do bad, illegal, stupid, hurtful, dangerous things and get away with it. The clear outlier is, of course, Aaron Hernandez, who (allegedly) executed a guy in cold blood. I think most of us would agree that Gaudin’s (alleged) actions were less serious than a homicide, which immediately made Hernandez a pariah, but more serious than cheating on one’s wife or a DUI, which are instantly forgiven. So where is the line?
I don’t have a good answer to this, and I imagine that everybody will approach it a different way. It hasn’t changed how I feel about the Giants, and I will continue to root for them when he’s pitching. It sure takes away some of the sparkle in what has been an excellent year for Gaudin, who barely made the roster out of Spring Training. While watching him pitch, I don’t have the same warmth in my heart as I do when Timmy fights through his struggles, or when Cain takes control of a game, or when Ryan Vogelsong proves he’s still got it. No, Gaudin has ceased to be a character that I can root for on his own, and now I can only acknowledge what he does for the team.
It’s almost not worth it to say anymore, but of course Gaudin has not been convicted of anything yet. The evidence as we’ve heard it seems pretty damning, but I bet that most Giants fans would happily accept Gaudin back into their hearts if things were to go the other way. Who among the crazy Giants fans even remembers the incident Pablo Sandoval had in Santa Cruz, in which he was accused of sexual assault before the prosecutor dropped the case for lack of evidence? That quickly became water under the bridge, mostly because we really, really wanted it to be.
It’s somewhat hard to believe that Gaudin would be instantly forgiven by the Giants faithful even if the case goes away. I want to believe that we judge based on morality and our values and what we expect from our fellow humans, rather than superstardom, but that might just be wishful thinking.