I watched Josh Donaldson 60 Minutes segment and I have a few thoughts.
Josh Donaldson is very funny. He's not a wise cracking kind of funny, but he plays easily with people in a way that indicates he is very confident and also finds a lot of things amusing.
Not everyone can say "No, not get warmed up....but get crunked to Adele."
Josh Donaldson is one of the few that can say "crunked". Mary J. Blige is the other. That's probably it.
Josh Donaldson understands that a professional baseball player is also an entertainer.
When asked by Sharyn Alfonsi whether he has a "look at me" quality to his game, he says that every time he tries to take that out of his game, "I'm not who I am. I don't perform the way that I should."
This is seconds after hearing he won the MVP. His smile informs his mom.
He said, "We won."
"It was such a tight hug. It was the hug of that five year old little boy that said, 'Mom, I'm going to be a professional baseball player.' "
Josh's mom is the MVP of the segment. For one, I'm assuming she provided the footage of little Josh and for that, we should all be grateful.
I mean, shut up. The mortarboard, the bow tie and how freaking tickled he is to be graduating from whatever he's graduating from (kindergarten, maybe.) It's stupid cute. And I cannot.
His mom, Lisa French, also talks candidly about the abuse she received from his dad. She also articulates, in a very simple way, why and how spousal abuse can be so damaging, beyond just the physical parts of it.
"He heard his father say, 'This is how you treat women.' "
It really doesn't matter if his dad said those words, he didn't need to. His actions set this idea forward. It's why abuse repeats itself across generations.
It's a credit to his mother that Donaldson is such a hard working, seemingly joyful person as an adult.
Donaldson himself speaks about the things he saw, the things he remembers. He says he remembers things he saw at three years old as well as he remembers things that happened yesterday.
Sharyn Alfonsi asks for specifics, and Donaldson's electric blue eyes look at her. He pauses and he says, "It was not good stuff."
"It's a hell of a thing," she says.
"Yeah," he says softly.
Donaldson's mom describes what happened shortly after his sixth birthday. Levon Donaldson, though divorced from Lisa French, broke into her home in Florida, assaulted her, had someone steal her six year old and continued to assault her. He then kidnapped both his ex wife and their son, took them on the road with him, until they finally managed to escape.
French uses the words "unthinkable things" to describe the assault. She doesn't ever describe exactly what happened.
“I’m not going to get too colourful with it. But it wasn’t pretty. The best way I can describe it is I can still remember things from when I was from three to five years old that are very vivid in my mind to this day. And it’s not something I would want anybody else to go through.”
Both mother and son do this. It's public record because Donaldson Sr. was arrested and went to prison for 15 years on various charges, including violent ones. He's on the Florida sex offenders list, which gives you a general idea if you wanted details.
Part of it, I suspect, is that they want their own privacy about it. Which is difficult, when one is a public figure, but they are entitled.
But the other part is I think they don't want to upset us. They don't want us to have to imagine the awfulness in detail, because they have those memories and they are terrible.
It makes me very fond of Lisa French. The A's talked to Josh about his mom for Mother's Day a few years ago.
Near the end of the segment, Donaldson describes the time his dad showed up at a big league game without him knowing.
"How did you know he was there?"
"I heard him. And then I turned around and saw him."
"What did you do?"
"I turned back around."
"You did. That's a hard thing to do."
Little Josh Donaldson was so good at baseball and such a little shit about it that parents would boo him at games.
His mom moved them from Florida to Alabama. Donaldson was coached by Lloyd Skoda at Faith Academy in Mobile.
"He had a chip on his shoulder," said Skoda, with the most Alabama of Alabama accents.
Here is a link to Skoda's story, when he was written about at his retirement. It's very baseball.
This is from Donaldson's first round with the A's. I included it because that's Jason Frasor, the Sausage King, striking him out.
Donaldson struggled when he first came up. He'd call Skoda and say, "I dunno if I can make it." And Skoda would say, "Son, I know you can make it. You are just going to have to keep working."
How rough was it? Playing in San Francisco in 2012, Donaldson noticed that Barry Zito's average was higher than his.
The leg kick took Donaldson to the next level. And it brought his swagger back, which some around baseball find irritating.
They show my favourite bench clearing inspired by Donaldson, which is the Manny Machado "You tagged me too hard" altercation. The best part is how Donaldson is trying so hard not to laugh at the macho posturing. Machado is full peacock here. It's glorious.
"Why do you think you piss off so many of those players?"
"Well, one, I'm super competitive and two, I play kinda with a chip on my shoulder, because you are talking about a bunch of alpha males out there on one field together. If we were a pack of wolves, only one of us would become an alpha. "
Donaldson describes the night he was traded to Toronto. He was sitting in his memorabilia room, playing a video game when his phone blew up. They show the memorabilia room. It's nice. He has a Mike Trout jersey on the wall, next to a Ricky Henderson.
The first text message he got was, "Blue Jays?"
And he thought, "I just got traded."
And things got awesome.
Donaldson describes walk off celebrations: "A, it's hilarious. To see, you know, 24 grown men hopping up and down at home plate, with the biggest smile on their face, like it's their birthday."
The interviewer asks if he likes being the guy in that situation, and she doesn't even finish the question before Donaldson says, "Yeah, of course I do. Of course."
Sharyn Alfonsi asks, "What are you doing in the baseball card shop, adult male?"
"Well, if you didn't know this, baseball players are just grown up children."
"It's becoming clear."
"We're just grown seven year olds."
Donaldson has "dwindled" his collection down, but he's got 15-20 thousand.
"Let this shit breathe, yo."
I actually don't find this idea that Donaldson listens to Adele to be that weird. There is a lot of power in this song. She beasts through this thing. It is really funny to watch him sing while power lifting, though.
I do remember it came out a day or so after the Jays were eliminated in the ALCS, so I remember being already melancholy when it was blowing up all over the radio. It makes this particular association amusing to me, like the song represents unfinished business.
In February, he went back to Faith Academy. Some teenage girls reacted accordingly.
Those two on the left sum it up.
They love boys. All of them.
I'll give Lloyd Skoda the last word.
"I gotta tell you, I love that boy a lot."
"You do love him."
"I love him a bunch. I could get emotional. "
"What makes him so special to you?"
"He lets you love him. I tell kids, teachers try to reach out to you hoping you'll reach back."
"He let's you love him."
NB- This is a recreated post. I spent a few hours this afternoon recapping this segment. It was posted. It got a lot of great response. The post is gone as of 12 am, May 15th. I don't know what happened. All I know is I feel sick.
ETA at 12:30 am, this happened:
I was once Russell Martin ricocheting a ball off Choo's bat. Everything was terrible. Someone became my Jose Bautista and they hit a homerun, guys. No joke.
You are my golden god.