The sacrifice is a divisive topic in baseball circles. On one hand, giving yourself up for the advancement of another teammate or your team is valued so much that a sacrifice fly or bunt doesn't hurt a player's average by counting as an at-bat. They are applauded by some managers, announcers and fans as examples of doing things the right way.
On the other, the sacrifice bunt is the one baseball decision that's guaranteed to rile the sabermetric crowd. Why give away one of your precious outs in an era of high-scoring offenses and games?
Of course, it goes without saying that Jim Duquette is making the one sacrifice on Monday morning that everyone — inside and out of the sport — can stand up and applaud. The former executive for the Mets and Orioles and current MLB Network radio host is donating one of his kidneys to his 10-year-old daughter Lindsey, who suffers from a rare kidney disease named focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.
The Baltimore Sun ran a great article (as well as a good photo gallery) over the weekend that detailed Lindsey's brave fight, but the Cliffs Notes version looks like this: Lindsey had both of her kidneys removed a year ago due to renal failure. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because, while it required daily dialysis treatments, it also cut down on the weakening effect that the kidneys had on her body. It led to the possibility of Monday's transplant, which Wayne Coffey also wrote about in an article for the New York Daily News:
Lindsey Duquette, age 10, will be on one operating table this morning, and her father, Jim, age 46, will be on another. Surgeons will remove Jim's right kidney, walk it down a state-of-the-art corridor ... and then transplant it into Lindsey. It will leave both father and daughter with one kidney, which Lindsey has already named.
"I'm calling it Raven," she says, referring to [Baltimore's] local NFL team.
The surgery, of course, isn't without its risk. There's a 50 percent chance that Lindsey's body could reject the new organ and so Pam Duquette (Jim's wife and Lindsey's mom) says the family will be on high alert for at least the first year after surgery.
But the surgery also creates a 50 percent chance Lindsey will be able to lead the life of a "normal kid," a possibility that has simply not existed since she was diagnosed in 2004 at the age of 2 1/2. The thought of giving his daughter that chance at first frightened Duquette — the surgery and recuperation required is tough for anyone to go through. After a few minutes, though, Duquette began to feel something beyond anything he'd ever felt.
Here's what Coffey wrote about the day that doctors told the Duquettes that Jim and Lindsey were a match for the transplant:
Body clenched, mind spinning, Duquette decided to bail on the traffic. He got off the Turnpike. He caught a train from the MetroPark station. By the time he went under the Hudson, Duquette was a changed man — with completely transformed feelings. He had probably the greatest adrenalin rush of his life . . . so much bigger and better than his biggest thrill as a star centerfielder for Williams College, or at any other point in his time on earth.
Over the years, Duquette has worked tirelessly to raise funds and bring a voice to Nephcure (learn more here), but what he's doing for his daughter Monday is really the ultimate gift. Here's wishing daddy and daughter a healthy and full recovery from the best story that baseball will see all year.