No popcorn will be popping Tuesday night at the springtime residence of Matt Bush. No bowls will be filled with Raisinets or Junior Mints.
He hasn’t called his local cable operator demanding HBO.
The segment produced about him by “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” isn’t must-see TV for Bush, the Texas Rangers’ hard-throwing reliever. He lived through all that airs over nearly 17 minutes, the good but mostly the bad, and remembers all that he told correspondent Andrea Kremer.
Bush has taken no issue what how he was treated by HBO. He’s trying to remain sober after alcohol nearly wrecked his life and career, and staying focused on pitching in the major leagues.
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Watching the segment could knock him off that path.
“It’s something in the past,” Bush told reporters Monday. “Hopefully people can find some inspiration from it and overcome some things in their life like I have. I feel like no matter what I will always be connected to my past one way or another, overcoming alcoholism and battling my demons and being able to go through what I did with incarceration and still being able to be successful.”
Hopefully people can find some inspiration from it and overcome some things in their life like I have.
Matt Bush on Real Sports segment
Kremer’s story on Bush airs for the first time at 9 p.m. Tuesday. She takes viewers from the start of his career in 2004 when he was the No. 1 overall pick by his hometown San Diego Padres and ends with images from earlier this month at Rangers spring training.
HBO covers all of Bush’s many missteps, including the one that sent him to prison for nearly killing a man while driving drunk, and presents the drastic contrast between the life Bush is leading and the one being endured by the victim of the accident, Anthony Tufano.
People unfamiliar with Bush’s story will be presented a glimpse of the person he was through his words and deeds, and the person he has become in his words and those of Rangers executives. The segment details how the Rangers found Bush, interviewing special assistant Roy Silver and showing footage of Bush’s throwing session in a Golden Corral parking lot, and what they require him to do as part of his contract
Viewers will also get a glimpse of Tufano, the person he is now and the person he was before Bush ran him over with a teammate’s truck March 22, 2012.
“I had brain hemorrhaging, fractured right cheekbone, vertebrae one through eight fractured, right clavicle fractured, both lungs bruised,” Tufano told Real Sports. “I believe it was the right lung that was collapsed. Ten broken ribs on this side, two on this side. I was crushed. I can’t put it any other way. I was crushed.”
Well before the end of the segment, it’s clear that people are left to decide if Bush deserved a fourth chance to play Major League Baseball. Tufano lives in constant pain and rarely leaves his home. Bush is making a half-million dollars and pitching in the major leagues. Bush is asked about his time in jail, but isn’t given credit for serving time for his crime.
General manager Jon Daniels is asked by Kremer if the risk is worth the reward.
Kremer: “I understand he’s the hardest thrower on your team. 97 mph. Hit 100 at one point. But is it really worth it, the possibility that not only could he relapse but worst-case scenario he could kill someone?”
Daniels: “I think you could say that about almost anybody, right?”
Kremer: “But he’s got the history.”
Daniels: “He does have the history. But if I didn’t feel that he was changed, you know, it’s not something we would have pursued. Had he not made these changes in life, had he not wanted to help other people, had he not shown the humility, we wouldn’t have gone down this path.”
The question Silver is asked is at the heart of the story.
Kremer: “There's always going to be people out there that are going to say, ‘The Texas Rangers overlooked the fact that this guy almost killed somebody. But it's all OK because he throws 95 miles an hour.’ ”
Silver: “And they have a right to say that and to feel that. And I also have a right to stand up for what I think is a story of forgiveness, grace and mercy.”
Him hitting me and going to prison dried him out and gave him another chance. What happened to me, he put me to a point where physically I can never come back.
Tufano calls Bush a “very good player” but also said that the letter Bush sent him in November 2015, shortly after his release from a halfway house, was self-serving, disingenuous “BS.”
Though Tufano has forgiven Bush, he said that he hates that Bush has made his family members hate another human.
“He lucked out,” Tufano said. “Him hitting me and going to prison dried him out and gave him another chance. What happened to me, he put me to a point where physically I can never come back.”
Bush, though, comes across as genuinely remorseful for what he did and has done to Tufano and is always mindful of that.
“I could never forget him,” Bush said. “I mean, it’s a deep part of my life. It’s a deep part of my memories and my sobriety. You know, Anthony Tufano is my reminder to never drink again.”