Home > Uncategorized > Elijah Dukes Never Got It, Will Never Get It

Elijah Dukes Never Got It, Will Never Get It

“It” meaning reality. He has never grasped the concept.

Elijah Dukes was once the a top-10 prospect for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and a top-100 prospect in baseball for 2007, according to Baseball America.

He’s out of baseball these days. He now spends his time rapping under the alias Fly Eli and smoking weed. If that’s what he wants to do, that’s fine. I mean, the beat in that video was pretty nice.

But the man is seriously delusional when it comes to his time in baseball and all of his troubles away from it. From the Tampa Tribune:

“In several interviews, including one at his home and one at the studio, Dukes talked about how the police are out to get him, the difficulties of being a black athlete in Tampa and how he was ‘thrown under the bus’ by Major League Baseball.

“He says he was blackballed by baseball after he came forward last year with allegations that fellow ball players were smuggling drugs onto chartered aircraft, using drugs in hotel rooms after flights and how he would sometimes smoke marijuana before home games when he played for the Washington Nationals.”

Oh, where to start, where to start. I am least concerned about the drug talk. That catches most of the headlines and I’m sure the allegations are mostly true, even coming from a sketchy source such as Dukes. But I’m not surprised at all. It wouldn’t be baseball’s first locker room drug problem in even the past five years. And I’m sure Dukes wasn’t/isn’t the only MLB player to take a couple of hits shortly before trying to get a couple of hits.

What does bother me is the deflection of blame. Dukes plays the race card for his time in Tampa, says he was “blackballed” for unlocking his drug secrets and is being unfairly persecuted by those charged to protect and serve.

Maybe it was tough for Elijah to get a fair shake in Tampa because that’s near his home area. He grew up in south Florida, everyone he knew was expecting him to rake in the majors as he was one of the many players who received the “next big thing” label in the minors. But the color of his skin isn’t why it was tough for him as a Devil Ray.  Those fans didn’t hate Carl Crawford or Fred McGriff or David Price, because it’s a pretty simple equation: You play well and put up good numbers, you get love. Those players played well, so it stands to reason that they were liked. What Elijah apparently doesn’t understand is that it’s hard for any community to get behind you as a baseball player when you run your mouth and then hit .190.

Dukes hasn’t been blackballed for outing anyone in a scandal; he is out of the league because he burned all bridges and never used any of his perceived potential to become a better player. He alienated his club, found ways to get into legal trouble, (cough) threaten to kill your wife and kids (cough), acted like he was above the team and OPS’ed .771 in a three-year career. Put it all together and Dukes is truly the entire package: a cancer to his own and void of value to anyone else.

I went to a Nationals spring training game with a friend a couple of years ago when Dukes was new to the team. One of the highlights of actually going to the game was so that we could heckle said player because, using kindergarten playground logic, Dukes was an easy target. This rings hypocritical after that introduction, but I’ve never been one to shout anything off-color at players, even those on teams I really disliked. For one night, I made an exception for Dukes, a flawed player, a hyped-out disappointment with an excessive amount of off-the-field baggage. We spent most of the evening sending loud, rude comments his way. I don’t remember what was exactly said, but nothing profane or racist. This being 2008, I figure most of the banter focused on his threatening phone calls, assault charges, how he was a complete bust in Tampa and could find work only with the pathetic Nationals.

Hey! Hey, 34 on the far left! Elijah! ELIJAAAAAAAH! Yeah, I'm talking to you."

The point is, Dukes made himself an easy pick for ridicule. It wasn’t the fault of the fans, teammates, general managers, owners, cops or anyone else.  Yet, Dukes will always refuse to realize that he’s the reason why he failed in baseball. He will carry that kind of thinking throughout his life, never wasting a second to point a finger away from himself for his own mistakes. His baseball career is over, but I fear that we haven’t heard the last from Elijah Dukes, and I don’t mean listening to one of his singles. A rock-bottom story just doesn’t seem far off in his life and it’s going to be frightening.

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