It was the most unselfish move. The decision made with the big picture in mind. It was an individual sacrifice for the good of the team.
Players work their whole careers for a shot at the All-Star Game. Whether voted by the fans or the manager, it is usually a once-in-a-lifetime accolade that can define a player’s legacy.
Ian Desmond earned that invitation with a breakout first half. Playing acrobatic defense at short, Desmond led the team at the plate. First as the leadoff man and then in the middle of the order, Desmond demonstrated the best power numbers of his career and he did it in just half of a season.
Desmond posted a .285 batting average with a career-high 17 homers and 51 RBIs in the first 73 games.
But Desmond has been dealing with a sore left oblique the entire season. Even though he has missed just one game, it is obvious by his decision the oblique has bothered him. He decided that rest for five days was the best alternative to risking further injury on the national stage in Kansas City.
To make the decision not to participate in what had to be one of his personal baseball dreams must’ve been difficult. It is a game that some players never get to play in.
But Desmond made the gutsiest of choices. He had the big picture in mind. The Nationals are on a quest for their first NL East pennant since their arrival in D.C. in 2005. They have the horses to make it and this is their best shot.
Desmond showed incredible focus on that big picture. His decision exemplified what the 2012 Nationals are all about.
Going into a big series against the Phillies or the Yankees, Desmond said that they were important games. But he also made sure to let everyone know that every game is important, no matter the opponent. If they are in the major leagues, they are important. That determination to take every game as the most critical is another reason why this team has won 49 games to start the season.
Gio Gonzalez does it all the time. He pitches a gem and deflects all praise and says it was the hitters, his catcher and the defense that won the game. He does it every time. He has 12 wins.
The first half of the season is littered with these examples. Stephen Strasburg is disappointed when he can’t come through for the team. Wilson Ramos and Sandy Leon were upset they were hurt because they couldn’t help the team win.
Bryce Harper hits himself in the temple with the bat or gets the wind knocked out of him, but won’t leave the game. He is incredibly focused to play every day, every at-bat.
Selfless acts by driven players making the sacrifice for their teammates is what bonds a team and makes it a winner. You have to have the talent to win. But Desmond proves this team also has the makeup to win. His decision to sit out the All-Star Game exemplifies what the 2012 Nationals are all about and is that early statement to the foundation these players are building in D.C.
Remember this decision by Desmond. It is a big one for him, the team and its future. Don’t feel sad because Desmond is not on the field at Kauffman Stadium, for I.D. has a bigger prize in sight.