The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away. Literally.

January 22, 2010

There is no more appropriate team for this to happen to than the Oakland A’s. Per Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, who first reported it this afternoon:

Rob Fai isn’t surprised that Oakland A’s prospect Grant Desme is ending his baseball career to enter the priesthood.

The timing? To him, that’s the shocking thing.

Desme is leaving the game at a time when his fortunes seemed to be rising fast. He batted .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in 131 games last year. Then he starred in the Arizona Fall League, where some of the game’s top prospects compete. He likely would have started this season at Class AA.

Grant Desme

A little background, first: Desme was a second round pick way back in June 2007, back when America was still an innocent place, free of Sarah Palins and recessions and governments that were trying to give you health care, and up until last season that was all that was really worth noting about him.

Having managed to play just 14 games combined in 2007 and 2008 due to injuries, God smiled on Grant in 2009, and Desme broke out by hitting 31 home runs, stealing 40 bases, and doing  just about everything on a baseball field that makes a baseball player productive.

So instead of continuing to do awesome baseball things on a baseball field, Grant has decided to directly return God’s favor, and become a priest.

I guess it could be worse, if you were of the pessimistic mind on Desme, like ESPN’s Rob Neyer, you probably weren’t expecting great, great things out of Desme anyway:

The point is that Desme wasn’t a sure thing — not a Grade A prospect. He was a Grade B prospect, or maybe a B+ for the people who really loved him. The A’s need star hitters if they’re ever to get somewhere, and Desme didn’t look like a future star.

So that’s some consolation, I guess. He was a prospect not without his flaws, and he was not the best of Oakland’s prospects. But priesthood? As a baseball fan, that’s kind of a tough pill to swallow, especially when your team’s offense stunk as much as Oakland’s did last season.

Perhaps most interestingly, though, is the discussion this has sparked around parts of the web like Athletics Nation and Minor League Ball about whether or not this is the “right” decision on Desme’s part.

It’s not often sports and religion collide so fascinatingly like this.

Desme is about as close to the majors without actually being there as one can get, and is surely passing up gobs more money he would have made in baseball than he will through priesthood. Some people conclude he’s being foolish. It’s not exactly the same decision I would make.

But I tend to agree with John Sickels’ take at Minor League Ball:

I’ll say this about it: I have a lot more respect for this than I do for people who thank God for helping them make the touchdown or win the big game. Grant Desme is showing genuine courage today, doing what he thinks is the right thing no matter what the rest of the world says.

So good for Desme.

But man, it would have been nice to have a 30-home run power outfielder that could swipe a bag or two. Only in Oakland.

Photo by Chris Lockard and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Some rights reserved.

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