Baseball: Former Baltimore Oriole Jay Gibbons Gets a Second Chance

Brian MarkhamCorrespondent IJune 16, 2008

Each one of us have personally gone through trying times in our lives, when we get knocked down and it’s not so easy to get up. Sometimes we don’t want to get up.

Former Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons has endured such a time in the months following the Mitchell Report. It is the nature of baseball fans and the public in general not to feel sorry for players like Jay Gibbons.

He is a millionaire with a beautiful wife who had a job that any of us would envy. Every day, we watched him live out our dreams on the field.

Then it was revealed that he used human growth hormone (HGH) to help him recover from nagging injuries. The press was relentless: Gibbons was no longer the guy we all wanted to be; he was now a cheater.

He did not deserve our envy or cheers, or even our pity. He did this to himself and deserved everything he got. No apology would ever repair what he did.

I think Gibbons did what any of us would do at first: hope he wouldn’t get caught. When he was caught, he apologized, accepted his suspension, and focused on getting ready for spring training with the Orioles.

Through bad timing (the Orioles are rebuilding), he was released and found no takers. His letter to the 29 remaining MLB clubs has been well documented. He simply wanted another chance to play the game he loved.

Today it has been reported that Gibbons has found a second chance with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. It's hardly a baseball mecca, but it is a second chance. 

I am sure Gibbons is sleeping better at night. I wish him the best of luck and hope he appears back in the Majors sometime soon.

Why would I root for a cheater? Why wouldn’t I want to see him endure more sleepless nights, public embarrassment, and personal agony? Doesn’t he deserve all that he gets for what he did?

I say no. For those of you reading who don’t know Jay Gibbons as a person, let me tell you; this is the kind of guy you root for.

Now, I don’t know Gibbons personally but I know people who do. This is what I’ve heard: Jay Gibbons is a gym rat (just like me) who works out because he loves it. Physical conditioning is very important to him and he works incredibly hard to stay in top shape.

Gibbons visits kids in the hospital—signing autographs, bringing memorabilia to give to the kids, and sticking around just to talk to them. Gibbons was the Orioles union rep, speaking openly and intelligently about issues facing the game. You could always expect something intelligent to come out of a Jay Gibbons interview.

Gibbons was one of the few lights during a very dark period for the Orioles. He had fun playing the game. He gave 100 percent, which was why he was injured so much. He crashed into walls and dove headfirst for an extra base.

He always attended the Orioles fanfests and talked with the fans. He made the most of what he had as an athlete; like we all would if we were blessed with his God-given abilities.

Honestly, Jay Gibbons might have used HGH, but I don’t think he’s a bad person. If you’re a gym rat, like me, you’ve probably met someone who has used something illegal. These aren’t bad people, they just feel like they need something more to get where they need to be. Whatever.

I’d never use anything like that and don’t endorse it. It just makes him the guy who felt like he needed to do something risky and misguided to get where he needed to be.

For me, Jay Gibbons is easy to root for because he’s a regular guy who just happens to be a ball player. He made a mistake.

Let’s take the high road and root for a good guy who took a misstep and has gotten a second chance. Doing so gives us all a reason to believe that we can overcome our own darkest moments and the demons that keep us up at night.