Does Character Matter?

The Phillies recent signing of reliever Terry Adams renewed discussions about the character of players and how much it means to their value on a team. Over the years, the Phillies have - for the most part - avoided players with bad character, but they are not without incidents.

When the Phillies decided to bring Terry Adams back to Philadelphia, some were reminded first and foremost of an off the field incident from a couple years ago. It was July of 2003 and Adams, then a member of the Phillies, reportedly hit his wife in a New York hotel room while the team was on a road trip. The incident took place in front of the couple's four month old child, which added child endangerment charges to the incident.

Marlon Byrd was a minor league prospect when he was arrested for reportedly pulling his girlfriend out of a car by her hair. She also alleged that Byrd has twisted her arm. It all happened after a celebration of the AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons had won the International League title.

The Phillies recalled Byrd, who had reconciled with his girlfriend shortly after the incident, very shortly after he had been arraigned on the charges. Since then, he has fallen out of the good graces of the team not for any discipline problems, but for his on the field play.

This winter, the Phillies traded for Kenny Lofton. Depending who you talk to, Lofton is either a great clubhouse player or a disruption. Most reports though are that he's a plus to every team that he plays for.

Bobby Abreu was long criticized for his seeming lack of interest. He would regularly show up late to the clubhouse and would generally be the first one to leave after a game. Manager Terry Francona had even benched Abreu for his tardiness. Over the past couple of seasons though, he has changed his outlook and is now one of the more popular players on the club.

Another player on the Phillies has been hounded by rumors and innuendos. Vicente Padilla was first rumored to be older than his reported age, but that was never proven. It seems unlikely that his age is wrong, since many players were caught up in an "age scandal" after the events of 9-11. Now though, the rumors are of a drinking problem. A problem that Padilla and his manager both vehemently deny. Last off-season, Padilla was involved in a car accident which killed a close friend, who was driving the car. This winter, it was Padilla who was driving when he was involved in another, much less serious accident.

Whether it's brushes with the law or rumors about their personal life, many players have had to face off the field issues in a very public way. The Phillies have had to do so less than many teams and seem concerned about player characters. For fans, character of the players that they root for should matter. We should be able to be proud of the players who we look to for wins and hopefully, for championships.

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