Millie’s song

2019-10-13 DanielHudson
Millie Hudson’s father and his team have their priorities straight.

Now I’m going to say it. Freshly minted Millie Hudson, daughter of Nationals reliever Daniel, exposed former Marlins executive David Samson as a horse’s ass.

When Daddy arrived at the delivery room for Millie’s premiere on the day of National League Championship Series Game One, Samson behaved more like the Philistines.

“Only excuse would be a problem with the birth or health of baby or mother,” Samson fumed in a Friday tweet. “If all is well, he needs to get to St. Louis. Inexcusable.”

So was Samson’s fuming. And he couldn’t wait to walk it back after Hudson bagged the final outs of the Nats’ Game Two win: “Happy to see Daniel Hudson get the save. I didn’t say he should miss the birth, & didn’t mean to judge his decision. I would have done everything possible to try to get him to St. Louis for game 1 of #NLCS, once health of baby & mom had been established. Respect his decision.”

Not so fast, Samson. You most certainly did mean to judge his decision because that’s what you did originally. “Inexcusable,” I believe was your word for it. If that’s not judging a decision, I’ve got two tickets to presidential impeachment hearings to sell you cheap.

If you want to put it in purely baseball terms, Hudson’s presence for Millie’s premiere didn’t exactly compromise the Nats against the Cardinals. Thanks in large part to Anibal Sanchez’s no-hit bid through seven and two thirds, the Nats won Game One, 2-0. And to a man the Nats had Hudson’s back.

None more emphatically than Hudson’s fellow back-end reliever Sean Doolittle. “If your reaction to someone having a baby is anything other than, ‘Congratulations, I hope everybody’s healthy’,” Doolittle snapped upon learning of Samson’s denunciation, “you’re an asshole.”

Never mind Hudson saying, “We didn’t exactly plan to have a baby in the middle of the playoffs.” Hudson knew long before the Nats even got to the postseason—you know, the one they weren’t supposed to reach in the first place after that 19-31 horror of a season beginning—that the only place he’d be when Millie debuted was by his wife Sara’s side.

“I heard somebody say one time: Baseball’s what I do, it’s not who I am,” the pitcher told the Washington Post‘s Barry Svrluga. “Once I had kids, it really resonated with me.”

The Hudsons actually thought they had it planned down to the nth detail going in. Millie Hudson wasn’t supposed to check in until 14 October. “That led Daniel and Sara Hudson to pull out their calendars and start mapping out days,” Svrluga writes. “If the Nats won the wild-card game and if the division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers was pushed to a decisive fifth game, maybe Daniel could shoot home to Phoenix, Sara could pop out the kid on command, and the Nats’ run could continue unhindered.”

Any father will tell you children have remarkable ways of changing the best laid plans in the tap of a smartphone app. They don’t do it maliciously, they do it because, well, they’re children. That’s what children do. Daniel and Sara Hudson will have time aplenty yet to teach Millie, when she’s teachable enough, that there is such a thing as perfecting the ratio between plan and execution.

But children in the womb don’t always behave according to plan or schedule. Millie is very normal that way. Her father high tailed it to Phoenix when learning she was liable to be induced the day before Game One. Hudson’s pitching repertoire includes a better than serviceable changeup. Taking her time until deciding Friday morning was her time to bow, his new daughter threw quite a changeup herself.

Nats manager Dave Martinez sounded as though he might be tempted to offer Millie a contract. “Apparently,” he cracked after Game One, “the baby didn’t want to come out until later on this morning.” After Game One, Martinez texted Hudson: “Hey, I got a name for your little girl: Anibala Sean Hudson.”

Thoroughly modern Millie will do just fine, thank you.

You’d have thought Samson took it personally when a baby girl not his own threw her changeup. Not that Millie Hudson was aware that the fate of the Nats rested so profoundly upon her exercising a woman’s perennial right to change her mind before she’d even poked her nose out from within her mother’s womb.

Neither was she aware that with one delivery she knocked Samson down and exposed as a baseball man who still seems to hold the ancient plantation mentality through which baseball executives considered their players commodities before humans.

Don’t go there about how much money Hudson earns as a pitcher. “A $90,000 slave is still a slave,” Curt Flood once said, once famously. Such baseball men as Samson today sometimes think the salient difference between players then and now is that Flood was a pauper compared to today’s slaves’ earnings.

“Samson’s [original] tweet did not seem to recognize–outside the scope of medical harm–that there was a need for any balancing test between family obligations and work obligations,” writes Forbes‘s Marc Edelman. “The analysis was entirely one dimensional as is sometimes the case with someone who spends their entire career in an executive position.”

Edelman also reminds you that Samson was still in office as the Marlins’s president when baseball agreed upon a postseason parental leave policy, instigated after Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Loup’s wife gave birth during a 2015 division series. “If Samson was really so opposed to the concept,” Edelman continues, “he could have encouraged the Marlins and other teams not to agree to the provision. Arguably, he should not be tweeting his objections years later.”

Who would have thought that one minute you’d hear people denouncing sports’ deadbeat dads, real or alleged, and the next you might find them denouncing a baseball player who thinks fatherhood is an honour?

Hudson—who signed with the Angels in February, was released in March, signed with the Blue Jays the same month, then was traded to the Nats at the new single mid-season trade deadline—certainly didn’t. “I went from not having a job on March 21 to this huge national conversation on family values going into the playoffs,” he told Svrluga. “Like, hey. Life comes at you fast, man. I don’t know how that happened and how I became the face for whatever conversation was going on.”

He became that face because a former baseball muckety-muck seemed to believe fatherhood is less important than throwing fastballs, sliders, changeups, and cutters at enemy hitters in the ninth inning. But don’t expect Samson to be a job candidate for the Nats’ front office anytime soon.

Asked about Hudson’s slightly unexpected Game One absence thanks to Millie’s dramatics, general manager Mike Rizzo said flatly, “It was a no-brainer.” Ask Nats owner Mark Lerner and he’ll tell you what he told Svrluga in support of his pitcher: ““Who could think anything else?”

“These decisions are easy,” Rizzo also said. “A happy player is a performing player. We’ve got to take care of our people. You have to treat this like a family. And the important thing is, we’ve got a new little member of the Nationals family.”

When was the last time you heard anyone around the Marlins, during or after Samson’s presidency, describe the floundering Fish as anything resembling a family?

Hudson, of course, returned to the Nats in St. Louis on Saturday, where he got to nail the final two outs in a 3-1 Game Two win that began with Max Scherzer taking a no-hit bid of his own into the seventh, where Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt ruined the no-no with a leadoff hit.

“Having a baby is the biggest blessing in the world,” the reliever said. “To come out here and get a save in a playoff game is second to that, but it’s pretty cool.”

Millie Hudson is a lucky little girl to have a father who believes fortune has to wait in the on-deck circle for family, and with colleagues and bosses who have his back without hesitation or apology. That’s one Natitude you should wish everyone else had.

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