Former Prospect Matt Bush Finally Makes Majors
2004 No. 1 overall draft pick Matt Bush was called up today from AA ball by the Texas Rangers. It’s one hell of an improbable story, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about.
For those who don’t know the story, Bush was an extremely talented shortstop coming out of high school in San Diego, who the Padres selected first overall because he was a local boy and the team wasn’t willing to shell out for a couple of other top prospects represented by Scott Boras.
As well as being extremely talented, Bush had an extremely big chip on his shoulder and sense of entitlement. He got into a bar fight within weeks of being drafted and quickly became an alcoholic with a penchant for drinking and driving.
Bush couldn’t hit enough to move up as a SS, so he shifted to pitcher but quickly tore his elbow tendon and required Tommy John surgery.
Then during Spring Training in 2012, he borrowed his roommate’s truck, although Bush had long since lost his driver’s license to DUI convictions, got drunk again and ultimately ran over the head of a 72 year old motorcyclist, who survived because he was wearing a helmet. Bush hit and ran but was quickly arrested a few miles down the road.
Bush pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 51 months in prison, ultimately serving about 3 1/2 years local jail and a Florida State Penitentiary. Less than two months after getting out of stir, the Rangers signed him to a minor league contract because Bush can still throw a baseball 97 miles per hour.
On the one hand, I feel like Bush has done his time, and if he is finally able to succeed and turn his life around, that’s a good thing. Besides, it’s a great story of an unlikely comeback.
My concern, however, is that if Bush finally makes good as a major league player, we, the baseball reading public, will be subjected to the usual BS stories by sportswriters about how Bush has turned his life around and what a great human being he now is. In professional sports, just about everything is forgiven if on-field performance is sufficiently high — just ask Ray Lewis — and an athlete’s reported qualities as a great human being and a “leader” are far too often closely correlated to said performance level.
While Bush has done his time, it’s no sure thing that he is now a great human being no matter how his future major league career goes.