When Torii Hunter told a Detroit-area radio station Tuesday Prince Fielder had a few things going on off the field, he probably thought he was sticking up for his teammate. Hey, he was essentially saying, there's more to this story than you know. Give him a break. Sometimes deeds done for the right reason turn out badly. This seems to be one of those times.
Prince Fielder is a 29-year-old man who is reportedly estranged from his father. Yet when he signed with the Tigers just 20 months ago, we saw photos of a smiling, happy family man: Prince posing with his wife, Chanel, and two adorable kids. He'd just signed a contract that would make his family wealthy beyond imagination and that could make life easy for generations to come if managed well. He'd come back to a place he spent part of his childhood and joined a franchise with fans already lining up to adore him. It had to be one of his best moments.
We know now the story didn't have that happy ending. When Hunter spoke on the radio, he thought he was doing the right thing, but he unfortunately shared too much about Fielder's private life, leading to questions the media had an obligation to ask and an investigation the media had an obligation to do into a life kept private. Wednesday, a website discovered that private bit of information that Fielder didn't want us to know, and we feel obligated to mention it just this once: Prince and his wife were in the midst of a divorce -- a divorce that involved two young children, at that. We're not going to pretend we know how that affects an individual -- nor should we pretend that every separation is equal with equal stress and equal fear or that individuals all handle events the same.
Here is what we know: Prince Fielder has not performed up to his standards on the baseball field in the past months. Divorce proceedings began May 28.
Those two facts may -- or may not -- be related. It's an impossible link to make with certainty. However, if on-field issues were related to what's going on off the field, it would be perfectly understandable. It's easy for someone behind the monitor typing at their keyboard to say trite things like "he's a professional" or "he's paid too much to allow this to affect his performance" or "my boss would fire me" but that is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Prince Fielder is a human being, going through one of the tougher things a human being can go through, and there are children involved.
It does us no good to play amateur psychologist, so we won't. It does us no good to farm this field, to try to put dates and stats together to search for a narrative, so we won't. A private individual is going through a traumatic thing. We hope he has support from team, friends and family during this time.
On this topic, we will say nothing more and we hope you will, too.