I just watched The Hot Zone, a mini-series on National Geographic about the spread of Ebola in 1989 so if I use the word ‘epidemic’ infinity times, I apologize. I am a product of my environment.
But Major League Baseball is facing a growing epidemic of violence against women and like Ebola, it only takes one or two incidents to go unaddressed before it spreads everywhere.
On May 13th, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Julio Urias was arrested for domestic battery. Apparently, he was arguing with a woman in the mall and shoved her to the ground.
On May 27th Philadelphia Phillies infielder, Odubel Herrera, was arrested for assault after it was reported that he left hand print markings of his girlfriend’s neck from choking her.
Those two events were two weeks apart and were both pretty much swept under the rug. I know the sport of baseball isn’t talked about nearly as much as it once was but I watch ESPN all day long and it’s like these two events never happened.
The charges against Urias were dropped while Herrera is still on administrative leave until at least June 17th but the overall lack of consequences looks even stranger next to not-so-distant Addison Russell news.
Last year, Addison Russell’s ex-wife wrote a blog post detailing the abuse that Addison Russell put both her and their child through. The Chicago Cubs did absolutely nothing about it until MLB FINALLY gave Russell a 40-game suspension.
When you combine these stories with Aroldis Chapman threatening his wife with a gun and Roberto Osuna being arrested for domestic abuse last season, there is a weird avalanche of disgusting acts occurring and MLB seems to be shrugging it off.
And do not worry Mets fans, I did not forget Jeurys Familia and Jose Reyes also hitting women.
Now, there is no simple solution.
Banning players from the sport after an arrest does nothing but encourages more violence. If a man loses his career then he can retaliate against the women that ‘snitched’ on him. At that point, he’d have nothing left to lose anyway.
There are also cases where married couples are involved and taking the man’s source of income away from him could destroy the family emotionally and financially.
There’s obviously a middle ground between ignoring the problem and banning players for life.
Addison Russell received a 40-game suspension and Roberto Osuna had to serve a 75-game suspension. Those are real consequences and a step in the right direction for Major League Baseball.
The problem is, these are still less severe consequences than these men would’ve faced if they did steroids. Sure, Osuna was gone for 75 games but the Houston Astros were still able to acquire him in a trade and the garbage bag was allowed to pitch in the postseason. Meanwhile, Robinson Cano was suspended for PEDs that same season and was ineligible for postseason play.
So according to Major League Baseball, it is more important for them to protect their precious record books against steroids users than it is for them to protect women from violence.
But this isn’t just about properly punishing abusers. There’s more to it than that. Instead of running away from this growing problem, this is MLB’s opportunity to really lean into it and educate both their players and fans about domestic violence and focus on prevention.
Educate these men. Don’t just punish their behavior but also change their behavior and their way of thinking entirely.
And I can’t not blame teams for their lack of accountability.
Sure, MLB is the governing body in charge of the big punishments but maybe the Houston Astros front office shouldn’t trade for Osuna while he’s in the midst of a suspension for domestic violence. Maybe the Mets don’t keep playing Jose Reyes every single day and act like everything’s cool.
Addison Russell gets to play every day and guys like Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel are still free agents in June because teams don’t want to pay them. Keuchel was the best pitcher in baseball in 2015 (and he’s only 31). Craig Kimbrel was the closer of the World Series winning Boston Red Sox. They aren’t on a team because it’s more important to be financially responsible than it is to be morally responsible.
Hey, Major League Baseball, let’s like uh, fucking try. Thnx.
Sidenote: Fuck Aroldis Chapman. Didn’t want to come off suuuper biased as a Yankees fan but fuck that guy. Let me make that quite clear.
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