MLB released its statement about Blue Jays and Rangers suspensions. Here are some initial reactions to their decisions…and wording.
So, after much hand wringing and webpage refreshing, the suspensions were announced for each person involved in the brawl in Arlington. The Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers learned their fates on Tuesday and Major League Baseball proved itself to be questionable. Here are some initial reactions to the suspensions handed down.
— Alex Seixeiro (@alexfan590) May 17, 2016
Rougned Odor suspended 8 games for “fighting, including punching” Jose Bautista
This seems light, no? Yes, he had a right to be offended by the slide from Bautista. He could have even expressed as much right after. But, his response was to bring violence onto the field. His comments about the incident were that of someone who does not see anything wrong with what he did and would do it again, should the situation present itself. He says he was trying to protect himself, but acknowledges that he saw Bautista “standing there”. That doesn’t sound like he thought he was under attack. We know that he has a history of using violence. Jay Blue of Blue Jays From Away reminded us that Odor has used similar tactics when facing the Vancouver Canadians.
If MLB is interested in really punishing for this kind of garbage, and as a result, discourage it in the future, perhaps they should actually dish out a punishment that matches that goal. 8 games, which will be appealed (and likely reduced) is not going to send a message that violence has no place in baseball. Not at all. That is not even going anywhere near the topic of disproportionate suspensions, which is a major issue in baseball. A guy can get 80 games for a failed drug test, but only 30 for domestic violence. Only 8 for assault.
Jesse Chavez suspended 3 games for “intentionally throwing at Prince Fielder“
Yup. Ok. This makes sense given that warnings were already issued and, everyone on the planet knew what Chavez was doing. It was clearly payback for the whole brawl and treatment of Bautista. We really shouldn’t get too worked up over a 3 game suspension. For a reliever, 3 games is nothing. It is especially palatable when you consider that he was sticking up for his teammate.
Elvis Andrus gets one game suspension for “aggresive actions” during the brawl
Huh. This was a surprise. Did anyone even notice that Andrus had done anything? He took a swing at Kevin Pillar and MLB didn’t like it. Given that we didn’t even notice, it couldn’t have been that bad. But, violence is violence, and MLB doesn’t like it, remember. In all seriousness, while a game does not seem like much, we can live with it and hold on to some hope that perhaps, the league is actually trying to crack down on fighting and aggression, particularly when things are already going down. Everyone should be like Adrian Beltre. Besides, we can’t be too mad at Andrus. He did basically gift wrap Game 5 of the ALDS for us.
Jose Bautista gets a game for “his actions during the incident and his postgame comments”
That seems a bit vague. It sounds like MLB just wants to punish him for something. His “actions” was an illegal slide. That’s obviously what they’re referring to. Because the “incident” saw him being pushed, then clocked, then held by Beltre. So, it has to be the slide. Maybe, MLB doesn’t want players posturing like he did after the slide. It could lead to fighting. After all, posturing has to expect the reasonable response of violence, right? Sigh. Just sounds like they wanted to give him something. Something could make sense, if it were explained a bit more clearly.
What doesn’t is the “postgame comments” part. Judge for yourself. At the time, they didn’t seem that bad. Likely, what did him in was the part where he talked about baseball plays policing baseball plays and his slide was intentional and meant to send a message. There are those who would suggest that baseball players will police themselves and Bautista was doing just that. He didn’t like the blatant payback for his bat flip and he was going to stand up for himself. MLB obviously can’t be seen as allowing players to take the law into their own hands, as it were. So, hand out a one game “now, now, Jose” suspension and everyone should go home happy.
John Gibbons (3 games) and Tim Leiper (1 game) for returning to the field and dugout respectively after being ejected
Both were ejected for arguing earlier in the game and should have stayed back in the clubhouse while this whole thing went down. This seems pretty standard and both should have known better. And, they do. But, they chose to set that aside to stand up for their team and its star. John Gibbons was in the visiting manager’s office drinking wine at the time, so him coming out was really just that: a sign of support. It’s not like he was out there trading blows like some drunk in a bar fight. He was running his mouth, sure. His shouting and whatnot is not what got him in trouble. He broke the rule. Simple.
What doesn’t make sense is the “incited further fighting”. Does being on the field and patting your star (who’s just been cold cocked) on the back count as inciting more violence? Does reappearing in the dugout when everything is happening on the field? If these two are getting punished for inciting further fighting, how in the world does Rangers manger, Jeff Banister not get anything?
Matt Bush, Sam Dyson, A.J. Griffin, Robinson Chirinos and coach Steve Buechele all received fines
Speaking of Banister, wasn’t it him who instructed Bush to throw at Bautista? In a one run game, you would need a manager’s say so to put the tying run on base, especially if you’re a new guy on the team with no experience to fall back on as your default response. Veterans can make decisions, rookies can’t. At the very least, Banister knew the pitch was coming. And, why is it that MLB is saying that Bush’s beanball is only fine worthy and Chavez’ is suspendable. Their answer is that Chavez did it after warnings were issued. OK…
As for the others, Griffin and Chirinos stepped onto the field while being on the DL. Dyson is still smarting from the ALDS. I don’t care what punishment he got, because this is plenty for me:
That lasts forever.
Kevin Pillar and Josh Donaldson fined
The fact that either of these two weren’t more severely punished is a tad surprising. Given the overall message that seems (attempted) to be sent by MLB, the fact that both of these guys went after Odor probably could have resulted in suspensions. This is especially so when you consider that both of these guys admit to going after him for punching Jose. Pillar was swinging wildly (no jokes about him swinging and missing, please) and Donaldson full on Goldberg speared Odor. So, they’re lucky to not have been suspended…not that would have mattered. They wouldn’t change anything. Nor should they.
DeMarlo Hale fined
Hale was fined for ‘ordering’ the intentional beaning of Fielder. Again, MLB needs to take a step back, here. They are acknowledging that hitting batters comes from the manager (in this case, acting manager) and do not punish Banister. The excuse that one happened before warnings were issued and the other happened after is weak. MLB is saying that we know beanings happen, they are intentional, but we won’t do anything about it until a warning has been issued. Isn’t that asking for trouble? At the very least, it is welcoming tensions, which, as we’ve seen, doesn’t end well.
The other side of that is that being more strict about hitting batters means that pitchers have to be careful, or avoid throwing inside to anyone. That is likely a road no one wants to go down.
Judging MLB suspensions and the decision process behind them can drive you crazy. There is a lot of backdoor conversation and precedent combing that we are not privy to. As well, the player’s union has an impact on the outcomes of punishments. That is to say that the union has a voice in setting up rules and punishments as a whole, rather than individual cases. There is a lot that goes into decisions like the ones above. MLB does not go into them lightly. But, when they do, perhaps some logic needs to be applied. Some of the above decisions just don’t jive. They are all done to avoid future ugliness and breakdown of civilities. MLB must ask themselves if these decisions really accomplish that.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.