Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Thirty games? We can't judge the fairness of Aroldis Chapman's suspension until other shoes drop

Yesterday, the Commissioner of Baseball ruled, and the Gammonites - as usual - approved.

But all we see in MLB's public relations war is a partial score: Aroldis Chapman, 30 games.

Without knowing Commissioner Rob Manfred's rulings on domestic violence cases involving Jose Reyes and Yasiel Puig, we can't appraise the Chapman decision, which - let's face it - is all about maintaining MLB's kind and gentler image, which is slowly turning into smoke and mirror.

Everybody opposes domestic violence. Morality-wise, it's a layup. If you throw the book at a wife-beater - I'm not suggesting you shouldn't - who will disagree? Not me!

But Chapman was never arrested. The incident stems from his girlfriend's claim that he choked her and fired shots into his garage - (a really, really stupid set of actions that obviously should set off alarms about the guy's mentality. The Yankees must watch him carefully.) Is a 30-game suspension fair? I dunno? But we can't judge Manfred's judgment until the other cases play out.

Last Halloween, Jose Reyes - now of the Rockies - was arrested for allegedly choking his wife and slamming her into a door. He's currently "on leave" - does that mean "suspended?" - and will appear in court April 4. We gotta believe Reyes will get the kitchen sink. Sixty games? Ninety? How do you compare the actions? Is slamming someone into a door worse than shooting up the garage?

In November, Puig - still a Dodger - got into a fight with a Miami bar bouncer, after Puig was said to have punched his sister. Police were called, he wasn't arrested. So... 30 games? What if the bouncer is an asshole? Why wasn't Puig charged? I dunno. Do you?

Did Chapman get a fair deal? Who knows? The general view of sportwriters is - of course - supportive of Manfred's move. Here's John Harper of the Daily News.

[Y]ou have to say that Manfred did get this right, all things considered. Since prosecutors in Florida, where the incident occurred at Chapman’s home in October, didn’t think there was enough evidence to file charges, clearly there were limits to how far Manfred could go here.

I don't mean to pick on Harper. I just get squirmy when the czars of professional sports inject morality into their product - which is basically a show of grown men fighting for survival. When a pitcher throws his 95 mph heater at a batter's chin, or a base-runner charges a pivoting shortstop, it's as violent an assault as any street thug visits upon his victim. And let's face it: The only thing that ever kills a career is mediocrity. As long as Chapman throws 105 mph, some team will have him. We might even root for that team, but that doesn't mean we think of him - or anyone - as a giant of morality. That "role model" crap ended 40 years ago.

That's why I sat out the three-year lynching party for Alex Rodriguez, accused of using steroids. (I always felt he was arbitrarily accused, caught in a media dragnet, while other players skated through MLB's famous "drug test program.") I don't think baseball - or football - is equipped to be the judge and jury on morality. Like I said, domestic violence is a layup. Everybody opposes it. But do you deny the player the right to make his living? And if you do, then what happens to the wife? Aren't you, in effect, punishing her for calling police? I dunno. Just asking.

Also, one of these days, Rob Manfred will watch a video of some star player choking a woman. What then? Videotapes are the steroids of the justice system. When such a tape comes out, the punishments expand exponentially. Nobody taped Chapman. For that, he should thank his stars.

But one of these days...

Thirty games? Sounds about right. But when you mix morality with public relations, things have a tendency to get murky. And we are now entering uncharted waters.

2 comments:

John M said...

I wonder how many players in the Hall of Fame beat their wives or girlfriends? Not the kind of thing they put on a plaque, but given the antediluvian social standards in the old days and the intelligence/sophistication/childhood experiences of some of the players....well, you just have to wonder.

But for heaven's sake, keep that horrid Pete Rose out.

joe de pastry said...

Pete Rose is a slimy creep whose sins were directly related to the integrity of the game, he lied about what he did and libeled those who punished him, and then he finally admitted [some?] of what he denied before when he got offered enough money to make it worth it [to him]. He broke baseball's Golden Rule. He does not belong in the Hall of Fame.
That others might have done even worse things also doesn't matter, especially if whatever crimes they may have committed didn't directly relate to the integrity of the game. Maybe some of them [unlike Rose, in my opinion]should have been prosecuted and jailed for their offenses, but that is not relevant to whether they should be honored for what they did on the field.
Domestic abusers should be punished by the criminal justice system; Pete Rose should be punished by baseball. Keep Pete out of the Hall. Send Jose Reyes and Puig to prison, if they are convicted.