Yesterday afternoon, the Cubs made a trade that I, ostensibly, should be giddy over. In exchange for a non-ranked, A-ball prospect and a PTBNL, the Chicago National League Ballclub acquired second baseman, Daniel Murphy, from the dumpster fire that is the Washington Nationals, after claiming him on waivers. Murphy has thrice been an All-Star for both the Nats and the Mets and finished as high as second in league MVP voting (2016), all while regularly making a challenge for the batting title. Acquired for basically peanuts, due to some injury hiccups and a clubhouse in disarray, Murphy (the ballplayer) makes for stellar addition to any offense. Especially that of the Cubs.
After all, in the last five (!!!) games, the Cubs have been limited to just a single run per game and all came via a solo home run. The Northsiders' bats have been maddeningly inconsistent and injuries to infielders Kris Bryant and Addison Russell aren't helping matters. Thus, on paper, the acquisition of Murphy makes perfect sense. Yet, despite this seemingly perfect match, I am not thrilled.
Why is that, you ask? Well, there is a goofy, irrational reason for my distaste for the deal and then there is a reason more grounded in reality. Please allow me to elaborate, starting with the lighter, meatball thoughts.
In a time before the Cubbies won the World Series, after suffering through a painful rebuild, the young team surprised everyone in baseball by making a playoff run. Then, the club doubled-down and astounded even the most arduous of doubters by offing the heavily-favored Cardinals in the NLDS and punching their ticket to the NL Championship Series. Suddenly, they were within reach of a World Series berth for the first time since 1945 and the Windy City was whipped up into a fervor. I, like many a Cubs rooter, thought that the team was actually going to make good on Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis' prediction in Back to the Future II.
Then, the New York Mets happened. More specifically, Daniel Murphy happened.
While the Cubs' bats did unexpectedly disappear, leading to their eventual four-game sweep at the hands of the Metropolitans, Mr. Murphy seemingly sealed their fate. The then-unheralded infielder made mince meat of the Chicago pitching staff, posting a video game-esque slash line of .529/.556/1.294 on his way to NLCS MVP honors. At the time, it seemed like he was swinging a tennis racket while our hurlers were lobbing beach balls... he was truly an unstoppable force and a symbol of our perpetual torment.
Cubs fans of a certain age might equate Murphy's performance to that of "f*cking Steve Garvey" in 1984, when the Padre pulled a similar trick in the NLCS. Or maybe a comparison is more apt to "Will Clark must die" cries in 1989, when the Giant single-handedly crushed our dreams in the NLDS. Or, even still, maybe the Diamondback's Stephen Drew and his 16 total bases in the 2007 division series is more equivocal. At any rate, the point is that these taboo names are equivalent to cuss words throughout the Second City and Daniel Murphy became yet another "he who shall not be named."
Now, one of those Voldemorts is a Cub and that just feels weird.
Realistically, this isn't actually a big deal and I am well-aware of that fact, especially in today's age of player movement. After all, the bedeviled Jim Edmonds became a Cub and we all got over it pretty quickly. Had any one of Garvey, Clark, or Drew ended up in the home clubhouse of Wrigley Field later in their career, their narratives would have eventually changed, as well. In a few weeks, Daniel Murphy in Cubbie Blue won't be such a strange sight. Of course, the fact that the Cubs won the World Series just a year after the Murphy Show definitely makes that process easier.
Anyway, that's the irrational, sports meatball reason why trading for Murphy gives me pause. With that out of the way, it's time to delve into the more serious apprehension: his beliefs. I warn you now, this is going to be a bit heavy for a baseball card blog.
For those who may not be aware, a few years ago, the then-Met was asked in an interview with NJ Advance Media about whether or not he'd be accepting of a gay teammate. As part of his response, he stated that he “disagree[s] with the lifestyle, 100 percent.” There was a little more to his statement and you can read the full piece here, but that quote is extremely troubling, no matter how it's rationalized.
First of all, by stating that he "disagrees," he is implying that being homosexuality is a choice, which is simply not the case. Who would possibly choose the lifestyle of one of the most historically persecuted segments of the world population, one that faces extreme hate and violence from all over today? Furthermore, does any heterosexual person remember the day or moment they chose to be straight? No - you're born the way you are, you like who you like, and there's nothing wrong with consenting adult relationships. Love is love, people!
Murphy's statement is akin to saying that he theoretically disagrees with a teammate physically being black. It's daft and it's a thought process that injures the acceptance of gay people as a whole. Even if Daniel isn't actively striking out against the gay community, it's downright demeaning, backwards and not the kind of thought process I want to associate with my favorite baseball team. For those saying it's just his beliefs and he has a right to his opinion, these are homophobic beliefs and opinions that propagate hate. Full stop.
Granted, this interview did take place three years ago and it's been reported elsewhere that Murphy has become somewhat more enlightened since that time after some work with MLB's Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean. Nevertheless, it's hard for me to believe that he's suddenly made a complete 180 degree turn. I am going to have a much, much, much, much harder time getting over or around this than his being really good against the Cubs that one time. Much like when Aroldis Chapman was added to team, to say that I am conflicted is an understatement - I don't think I'll miss Daniel when he becomes a free-agent this winter.
One of the cards you see in this post will dutifully represent Murphy in my Cub All-Time Roster Collection, alongside other problematic players of the past such as Chapman, Milton Bradley, Mel Hall and others. I can't ignore the fact that he is a Cub, but I don't have to do anything more than that. Which card will go into the CATRC binder has yet to be decided because I honestly do not care, at this point. Feel free to offer your opinions, I guess.
To summarize, that is why, despite the fact that he is an excellent addition on paper, I am less than okay with Daniel Murphy moving from Washington, D.C. to Chicago. I am certain that there are plenty out there reading this who think I am making a mountain out of a molehill or that I should only worry about the play on the field; however, I can't simply ignore this elephant in the room. That elephant can be a damn destructive force, if left unchecked.
In short, Daniel Murphy is a Cub and I am not thrilled.