MLB Needs to Lead on Domestic Violence Issues

MLB Needs to Lead on Domestic Violence Issues 

By Christopher Saunders

Major League Baseball has taken a hard line toward domestic violence cases since establishing its joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy with the Players’ Association in August, 2015.  

In accordance with the agreement, the latest arrest of Jeruys Familia makes it almost certain the Mets closer will be facing a suspension in 2017.

Jeruys Familia, NY Mets

Jeruys Familia, NY Mets

According to a police report, Familia’s victim — who was not named on the report, but a source said was his wife — had scratches to her chest and a bruise to her right cheek.  The source said the Familias, who were celebrating a family birthday, remain together, which raises the question how much she will cooperate with the MLB’s investigation.

However, the issue of domestic violence has become a plague around professional sports, most recently in football.  Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, and now former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown have all been highlighted, not for their accomplishments on the field, but their actions off the turf.  

Baseball, though, isn’t immune from similar allegations.  In the past year, Major League Baseball has had to deal with quite a few players accused of domestic violence.

First, Jose Reyes, then with the Colorado Rockies, was suspended 52 games after he was arrested in October, 2015 on charges he threw his wife into a sliding glass door in a Hawaii hotel room.  After his suspension was complete, Reyes was released by the Rockies and signed a minor league deal with the Mets the following June.

Aroldis Chapman was suspended 30 games at the beginning of the season after he allegedly choked his 22-year-old girlfriend and fired eight shots in the garage of his home also in  October, 2015.  Chapman was allowed to attend spring training with the Yankees — to whom he had been traded from the Reds during the offseason — before serving his suspension.

  Atlanta’s Hector Olivera has received the stiffest punishment to date in a domestic abuse case. The Braves outfielder was suspended 82 games after he was arrested in April on charges of assault and battery on a woman outside a hotel in Washington, D.C.

In comparison, the MLB appears to take a more formative and consistent stance on domestic violence and abuse issues than the NFL.  While the NFL is always louder with their response to accusations involving their players, they appear to have a history of inconsistency in investigating these reports.  

One thing is certain.  Major League Baseball  needs to keep the zero tolerance policy in place.  They must continue to lead by example.  Domestic violence and abuse victims deserve that reassurance and  protection.

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