Sports Columns

Can the MLB Do it Right

Shawn McFarland
Staff Editor

Photo courtesy of Taipei Times.
Photo courtesy of Taipei Times.

It would appear that we’ve come to a sad reality in the world of sports; we can’t escape domestic abuse. Gone are the days where an athlete’s use of performance enhancing drugs was the largest moral and personal issue in the world of sports – we now are dealt with the tragedy of athletes physically abusing their wives and girlfriends.

It’s no longer an isolated incident, either. First came former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who knocked his then-girlfriend Janay Rice unconscious, and dragged her out of an elevator. Rice’s criminal charges were dropped, and he served a two-game suspension handed down by the National Football League. Rice was released by the Ravens, and has yet to play in the NFL since.

The next domestic abuser is the one who’s grabbing most national headlines as of late: Greg Hardy. Hardy was arrested by in May of 2014 for assaulting an ex-girlfriend, threatening to kill her, and barbarically throwing her onto a pile of assault rifles. The charges were dropped due to the fact that the victim did not show up to court to testify against Hardy. The Carolina Panthers subsequently released Hardy following the legal issues. The Dallas Cowboys chose to give Hardy a second-chance, signing him to a one-year, $11.3 million contract in March of 2015. The NFL handed Hardy a 10-game suspension, which was later knocked down to four games.

A four-game suspension? A two-game suspension? I understand this is a conversation which has been debated and torn apart over and over, but the NFL failed miserably in their “punishments”.

Unfortunately, what’s done is done. The NFL simply screwed up – and they’ve been publicly scrutinized by current and former players, media members and masses of fans. It’s too late for them to go back and make new amends on the mistakes they made, but a new league has a chance to step up.

Late last Monday night, it was reported that Colorado Rockie’s shortstop was arrested and charged for allegedly assaulting his wife in their Hawaii hotel room. Reports say the 32-year-old grabbed his wife by the throat and slammed her into a glass balcony door, causing various injuries.

Major League Baseball has said they are beginning and an investigation, and the Colorado Rockies are “continuing to gather information and address the situation properly” per the organization’s Twitter account.

This isn’t a pretty situation at all. I may be speaking on behalf of society here, but I don’t think there’s anybody who wants to see more domestic abuse in professional sports. But there is one small, shining positive to this new case: the MLB and the Rockies can do what the NFL failed to do.

Historically, the MLB has come down hard on those who break the rules (be it steroids, cheating or anything in between) so there is reason to be optimistic. Commissioner Rob Manfred is just two-years into his new role overseeing baseball, and this Reyes issue could be a great opportunity for him to put his foot down and show that the MLB isn’t going to tolerate domestic violence (something the NFL apparently can’t do).

It’s not just on Manfred and the MLB, either. How the Rockies choose to handle this could separate themselves from the likes of the Cowboys, who chose to give a domestic abuser a second chance. If the MLB fails to get the job done, the Rockies could take over and A) release Reyes, or B) suspend him for a suffice amount of time. I’ll take a minute to play devil’s advocate here – I understand that the Rockies have a substantial amount of money tied up in Reyes, and their job is to field the best possible baseball team. If Reyes fits that mold, it becomes a moral dilemma in regards to playing-or-not playing him.

But what the Rockies may fail to see is that this could stand for something much deeper than a baseball team. This could finally help put a stop to professional sports teams letting criminals off the hook with very little punishment. I mean, a four-game suspension is more of a month long vacation than it is a punishment. If the Rockies, or the MLB, come down hard on Reyes, whether it’s a long-term suspension or the loss of a job, they can make a stand for what is right in society; the well-being and safety of others over a game.

So Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred and the Colorado Rockies, this is your chance to do what the NFL failed to do. This is your chance to do what’s right, and not let a domestic abuser off the hook, favoring money and on-field talent over moral values.

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