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By David Sheridan
The MLB has always had some type of big story surrounding the league. We’ve seen Pete Rose get a lifetime ban for betting on games, the segregation of minority and white players, and more recently the Steroid Era diminished the image of the league for years now.
Unfortunately, the focus of this offseason has not been the preparation of the players for the new year, but that three separate players were being investigated in domestic violence cases.
Jose Reyes, Aroldis Chapman and Yasiel Puig were all accused of some form of domestic abuse over the last few months.
It isn’t like these are players that only a few fans have heard of, they’re big name players and are among the best in the league. This doesn’t make a difference legally or make the crime any less severe because they’re famous, domestic violence is wrong in all cases and these players do not deserve any special treatment.
But in this context, these players’ fame is even worse for the league because it shows that some of their top players may not be the perfect role models we like to see them as.
The biggest question through all of this was how the MLB would handle punishments for domestic violence.
The player’s union and the league had recently worked out a way to deal with this situation in the new collective bargaining agreement. What the MLB wanted to do was avoid failing to properly handle domestic violence cases like the NFL has for a few years now.
In 2014 the NFL faced a similar situation to what the MLB is dealing with. Two players, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, were under investigation for domestic abuse.
Rice was charged with striking his fiancee, now wife, in an elevator at a hotel, leaving her unconscious. Peterson was indicted for child abuse and child endangerment after it was discovered he attempted to discipline his son by hitting him with a switch.
Rice was initially suspended two games, but after TMZ released the security tape showing Rice hitting his fiancee in the face, the NFL suspended him for the rest of the season. Commissioner Roger Goodell defended himself by saying that no one in the league had ever seen the tape until TMZ released it.
To clarify: Ray Rice knocked his fiancee out in an elevator, then dragged her body out of the elevator and was originally suspended for two game. On the other hand, Tom Brady allegedly had a few footballs slightly deflated and was suspended four games, twice as much as Rice.
Peterson was indefinitely suspended in 2014, which ended up being for the entire season, but there was a lot of back-and-forth about when his suspension would be lifted.
The NFL still has a constant struggle with domestic violence among its players. There are consistent allegations and arrests being made, and there’s still criticism of how they are being handled.
So, the MLB wanted to make sure they showed that the alleged action of players like Reyes, Chapman and Puig would not be tolerated, and they have handled the situation well so far.
Reyes, a shortstop for the Colorado Rockies, was arrested for attacking his wife at a hotel while the two were in Hawaii. Last month Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Reyes with pay until his court hearing in April. A suspension is likely if there is evidence that he did commit the crime, but this is a good start for the league. It keeps Reyes from being at practices with his team and from participating in Spring Training, while the paid suspension keeps the league from any backlash should he be found not guilty.
Chapman — who was a closer for the Cincinnati Reds at the time of his incident, but was later traded to the New York Yankees (which is a controversy by itself) — was under police investigation after neighbors heard gunshots coming from his home after he got into an argument with his girlfriend.
His girlfriend did not press charges after he allegedly choked her and, as it turns out, released his anger by firing his gun in the garage.
Since nothing came of the short investigation, the league only suspended Chapman for 30 days. Again, this was a smart move by Manfred. The player’s union and the league worked out the length of the suspension.
Chapman agreed not to appeal the suspension at all if it was reduce by about 10 days from the original 40 that the league planned on it being.
The MLB showed that even though no charges were being brought up against Chapman, the threats he made to his girlfriend’s well being would not be tolerated and could still be punishable.
Puig is a rising star in the league who plays outfield for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was accused of getting into a fight with a bouncer in a bar and also reportedly shoving his sister during the same night.
No charges are being brought up against Puig and there isn’t a lot of evidence to prove that he did any wrongdoing, so it doesn’t seem likely that he will be suspended, but if something does surface, don’t be surprised if the MLB nips it in the bud and hands down a punishment to Puig.
Domestic violence is a troubling crime. Attacking a loved one is never the answer. Major League Baseball has luckily stepped up and shown that no matter who you are and no matter how famous you may be, that is not an excuse and your abuse will not be ignored.