An Epic Tragedy Unfolding Before Our Eyes: The Prince and the Pauper

Cecil Fielder has certainly not paved a smooth road to redemption between he and his son, all-star first baseman Prince Fielder.  To put it bluntly, if Cecil plans on reconciling their relationship at any point while he's still around, he needs to realize the impact of his words and insert his foot squarely in his mouth.  After reportedly making progress towards building a more stable relationship, Cecil made headlines this past weekend by making some questionable comments at the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame, as reported by Sporting News.  To summarize his comments, Cecil said that Prince is doing a poor job of communicating with family and those who helped him get to where is is and that he hides behind his agent.  Cecil may have had a huge impact on Prince's success in his younger years but given the circumstances surrounding Cecil's bitter divorce and legal issues stemming from his own self-affliction (an addiction to gambling which resulted in millions of dollars owed to debtors and tax agencies; this USA Today article sums up that ugly part of his life quite wel), I think that one thing is very clear - Cecil Fielder did as much to alienate his family as anyone else.  This post is a bit different than many posts we've drafted.  It's a far cry from our all-time teams and hall of fame debates but it's a post that needs to be written because we have a responsibility as humans to come to the aid of brothers and sisters in need.  It's clear to me that the track that Prince and Cecil are taking is one that will lead them towards bitterness, regret and anguish.

The part of that the Fielder story that bothers me the most, and why I have felt compelled to write this, is that their story has all the potential to be one with a very happy ending.  We've all seen the pictures of a young Prince in the Tigers clubhouse and video of Prince working on switch-hitting in the Tigers batting cages.  The father-son duo is one of the most formidable in baseball history (top 5 all-time, in my opinion) and those videos serve as evidence that a unique relationship once existed.  The on-field results suggest that the relationship was  mutually beneficial with Cecil feeding off of his son's presence and Prince benefiting from being around the game.  In fact, they are the only father-son duo to claim 50 home run seasons by both father and son.  And now, Prince signing with his father's old team presents an opportunity for the Fielder family to solidify their place among Detroit royalty.  The Pauper and the Prince - it could be a comeback story of epic proportions but, instead, we are left helpless, watching the train heading towards the cliff.

I'm rooting for reconciliation.  In fact, I'm challenging both men to reach for it.  It won't come easy; we are talking about men who have endured great success and heartbreak so overcoming pride issues will certainly play a huge role in the process.  If reconciliation is going to occur, it will require a softened heart by Prince and a renewed sense of self-accountability for Cecil.  Cecil needs to recognize his place in this feud.  He needs to own up to the devastation that his disease caused his family.  An apology without ifs, ands, or buts would probably go a long way.  Beyond that, Prince needs to find it in his heart to forgive his father, which is no small task given the amount of pain that his father has caused but I'm certain that anything is possible with the extension of grace and a handshake.  Reading between the lines, it seems as if money is the root of many of these problems (and likely Cecil's most recent comments) - besides the gambling debts, there were accusations that Cecil pressured Prince for compensation when he assisted Prince in signing his first contract.  To be candid, if my father had gambling issues, the last thing I'd want to do is write him a check, carte blanche.  If and when Prince feels like his father is ready to be compensated for his services, it should be with strings attached.  And to be honest, I'm not sure Prince owes Cecil anything monetarily but those are issues that they will have to settle.  As a father, I can understand why Cecil is upset about his son not giving him the time of day but with regards to money issues, I'm not so sensitive.  There is a difference between helping someone carry a burden that they are struggling with and helping to carry a load that they should be carrying on their own.  Cecil made his bed, at least financially and he has to be prepared to sleep in it.  The real burden in this situation is the one that exists due to an estranged father-son relationship and that's why I'm pleading for these men to seek professional counseling.  I may not be a professional family counselor but I've seen firsthand how money can devastate families, as an investment advisor.  If left unresolved, these matters will fester and affect the lives of everyone around them and baseball will miss out on a great story of courage and success against all odds.


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