August 22, 2014

The Punishment Doesn’t Fit The Crime

July 15, 2011 by · 5 Comments 

Following a vicious brawl between the Red Sox’s David Ortiz and the Orioles’ Kevin Gregg, Major League Baseball has punished both with a four-game suspension and a fine of an undisclosed amount. However, many initial media reports speculate the amount is around $2,500.

This situation once again exemplifies the severe lack of respect players have for the game, and their repeated unwillingness to adhere to good principles and set positive examples. Major League Baseball needs to step up and make the difference.

Following the game on July 8, Ortiz told reporters that Gregg was screaming things after Ortiz popped out. “I ain’t gonna take that like a little b—-, you know what I’m saying?” Ortiz said. “Everybody’s a grown man here, and you gotta be aware of the situation.” Ortiz later said that this was his first fight “since kindergarden.”

First off, I have no idea what Ortiz means by “you gotta be aware of the situation.” Since when does being aware mean you should engage in an all-out fist fight? And if you really are a “grown man,” Mr. Ortiz, why are you resorting to behavior you haven’t engaged in since kindergarden?

A fine of $2,500 is ridiculous in a few regards. A fine is meant to make an impression, it’s not a parking ticket with a fixed rate. Thus, fines should be given out as a percentage of salary. That way, it will have an equal effect on each player.

Gregg makes $4.2 million this season. Ortiz makes three times that amount. Giving them the same fine has complete lop-sided qualities for two players who deserve equal punishment.

Moreover, if Ortiz’s comments after the game have any value, it’s the realization that this punishment really isn’t having much of an effect on Ortiz anyway.

The fine Oritiz received, if it is in fact $2,500, is just .02% of his salary. Give me a break. If Major League Baseball thinks .02% can suppress Ortiz’s maniacal behavior, they are kidding themselves. Acts like this should incur at least a 5% fine. It’s far more likely Ortiz would hold back if he was fined $625,000.

There’s one more aspect that is rather severe but makes plenty of sense. Suppose this had happened on the street. Suppose Gregg screamed at Ortiz on the street and both engaged in a fist fight. Both would be sitting in jail right now.

Why aren’t players on the field held to the same legal standards as regular citizens? Fighting is illegal, and it should be on the baseball field as well.

However Major League Baseball wants to address this is fine. But it needs to be addressed somehow. We can’t allow players to exhibit no respect and no restraint on the field. Our society hands athletes a lot of value, and our children look up to these players as role models. Our culture and our principles would be much better served if these adults did, in fact, act like adults.

jess@jesskcoleman.com

Comments

5 Responses to “The Punishment Doesn’t Fit The Crime”
  1. Ken says:

    The same legal standards? Really? For fighting? Do you also believe that they should be arrested and sent to jail for assault with a deadly weapon if a pitcher beans someone? Heck, let’s not even talk about the rampant drug use in the Majors, where players get away with it, yet if any of us normal people did that we would be in jail for years to come. That’s more of an issue than a freakin’ fist fight. Have you really never once in your life lost your temper like that? Probably not because all you have to do is sit at your keyboard and spew judgement on others! Come on, seriously, you sound like a Yankee fan that has it out for all Red Sox players. Get real!

  2. Ken,

    If it can be proven that a pitcher did throw at a batter on purpose, then, yes, I believe they should be legally held accountable. However, they do assume some risk by playing the game, so it’s a more difficult question.

    The issue of fighting, though, it completely different. You assume no risk of fighting in the game of baseball. In boxing, for example, you do. But on the baseball field, fighting is not part of the game, and it should thus be handled as a regular act of assault.

    Have I ever lost my temper? Yes, I have, but does that alleviate responsibility? I don’t think a loss of temper is exactly a good defense. I think Charles Manson and David Berkowitz could have said the same thing…

    - Jess

  3. Mike Lynch says:

    I actually agree with both of you. I, too, believe a $2,500 fine is ridiculous for someone making millions of dollars and won’t deter a future brawl. But I’m not convinced a $625,000 fine will deter brawls either. Sure that’s a lot of money, especially to those of us who don’t make millions, but once emotions take over, a fight is going to happen regardless of the fine, IMHO. I only recently stopped playing baseball at the age of 44 and I’ve had plenty of jawing sessions with umpires and opposing players, and I can’t say that I would have stopped myself from fighting if it came to that. Of course, I wouldn’t have had to worry about being fined, either. Still, in the heat of the moment I find it hard to restrain myself and I don’t blame Ortiz for going to the mound in the least. I probably would have done the same thing if a pitcher was yelling at me while I was going down the line.

    Most of the problem is that players these days have a sense of entitlement and get upset when they’re thrown at. I don’t like being thrown at either, but if it’s warranted and not at my head, I’ll take it like a man. I was once caught stealing signs in high school and was promptly drilled with the next pitch. I smiled and took my base because I deserved it (and he hit me in the arm and not the head). Back in the day, batters expected to get thrown at and they accepted it as part of the game. That doesn’t mean there were never brawls, but it usually took more than a brushback or two to spark emotions. These days if you breathe wrong in someone’s direction, a fight ensues.

    Perhaps larger fines is the answer but I’m guessing a lengthy suspension would be more of a deterrent. Unfortunately the Players’ Association would go bonkers if MLB tried to implement lengthy suspensions for something that’s gone largely unpunished for more than a century.

  4. Erik Christensen says:

    Brawls have been a part of sports since the beginning. In baseball, they are rare occurrences. Of course there should be a fine. However unless things get really out of hand, like what Jose Offerman did a few years back in the Atlantic League, it shouldn’t become a legal matter.

    If your team thinks an opposing pitcher is throwing at your batters, it’s up to your pitcher to give them a message.

    It’s how they did it for over 100 years.

  5. Paul Dunn says:

    Jess,
    You have an interesting point, but bringing in Charles Manson and David Berkowitz doesn’t facilitate the discussion. As baseball fights go, this was even more of a joke than usual. Ortiz misses with a wild left and I have no idea what Gregg was trying to accomplish. Baltimore was being embarrassed so the Orioles’ pitchers, Gregg and Mike Gonzalez started throwing at Red Sox batters. Maybe the Oriole players were being taunted from the Boston dugout ? I don’t know. I do know that the Boston staff has a reputation of throwing inside, sometimes too inside. The dollar amount of the fines was a joke, but multiple game suspensions (more than four games) might be more effective. In my lifetime I have seen at least three majors fights.Don Drysdale versus the Reds (especially Frank Robinson) in the 1961 Beanball wars. Billy Martin of the Reds breaking Jim Brewer’s jaw in 1960. Finally, Juan Marichal pounding Dodger catcher John Roseboro with a bat in 1965. I could also add Bill Lee versus the Yankees. There has been some progress since the 1950′s in curbing fights, but more should be done. Suspend a player fourteen plus games for a starter, but the Major Leagues have to be consistent in whatever they choose to impose.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!