When Jose Reyes was suspended by MLB after getting arrested for “allegations” of domestic abuse, the media lauded the league’s strengthened domestic violence policy. Baseball execs sent a message that no longer will MLB wait for wheels of justice to turn and due process to be awarded.
In order to cut the women’s rights and anti-domestic violence activists at the gate, new commissioner Robert Manfred seems like a guy that is willing to contort himself to whatever extent to stay on the winning side of the daily social issues that continue to spill into professional sports.
Reyes was the first player to be suspended under new Major League Baseball rules addressing domestic violence issues. The Colorado Rockies shortstop, a four-time All-Star player who earns $22 million a year, was placed on paid leave while facing criminal proceedings.
Reyes, 32, was arrested at a Maui resort in October following an argument with his wife. He is alleged to have pushed her into a glass balcony door causing bruises and cuts on her neck, thigh and other parts of her body. His trial was scheduled to start today, the same day that the Rockies play at Arizona to blast off the 2016 MLB season.
The new policy was implemented in August after several months of negotiations between league officials and MLBs players association. It came in response to a number of high-profile domestic violence cases in the country.
Recent reports, however, indicate that Maui prosecutors are moving to dismiss the domestic abuse charge against Reyes because his wife isn’t cooperating.
According to news reports, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kerry Glen said she expects to file documents Wednesday to drop the case. Reyes was scheduled for trial April 4th and if you took all of these social media mouths and drama-filled radio hosts seriously, it was all but a done deal that Reyes may have to do some jail time.
Soon after Reyes’ suspension in late February, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman became the second victim of the policy, receiving a 30-game suspension for an alleged gun-firing incident that was investigated by police, who also decided to drop the charges.
After interviewing Chapman and conducting its own internal investigation, Manfred decided that Chapman’s actions still violated the new policy and the newly-inked Yankees closer has to sit out the first month of the 2016 season
On March 1st, MLB suspended the Yankee pitcher for 30 games for an earlier October incident involving his girlfriend at his home in Miami. Under the circumstances, this aggressive stance on domestic violence by MLB doesn’t seem authentic. More reactionary than anything and similar to the steroids era, they are sacrificing star players in order to appear proactive on a lightning-rod topic that has dominated sports headlines in the recent years.
It’s not like these guys are getting passes for being pro baseball players. Local authorities die for an opportunity to catch a big fish in murky waters and receive the attention and acclaim that comes with being fair on crime and uninfluenced in how they dispense justice.
On top of that, we are talking about two dark as night, Dominican players who don’t speak much English at all. These guys don’t usually fall into the “protected” category, which makes the actions of Manfred and MLB to suspend these guys as if they were convicted of a crime, even more perplexing and somewhat troubling.
Domestic violence is by all means an issue that plagues our society and must be addressed. But is it baseball’s job to investigate behind well trained investigators, lawyers and prosecutors and decide that the experts were wrong and guys should be punished for crimes that the law says they can’t be charged for?
An even sadder fact is that when the charges are officially dropped that story won’t be as promoted as when Reyes was initially charged and labeled. These guys are like big, sacrificial lambs, who baseball will eventually ease back into the mix as fans and America’s sensitivity for domestic violence issues wanes a bit.
It just seems really forced and arbitrary on MLB’s part. What’s next? When is the league overstepping its boundaries by creeping into the personal lives of athletes and their families and playing decision-maker about what is acceptable and unacceptable marital behavior. Especially if the police and courts find that no law has been broken.