Monday, June 26, 2006

Another Black Eye For Major League Baseball!

The Red Sox have won eight games in a row, and Red Sox Nation is on a high and beginning to show some early symptoms of Pennant Fever. But a dark cloud hangs over Fenway and over the world of Major League Baseball today that has nothing to do with the storm system that forced a postponement of yesterday’s scheduled contest between the Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies. The lowering nimbus emanates from the storm of controversy that now swirls around Phillies pitcher, Brett Myers and, by extension, over the Phillies management and the Commissioner’s office.

The facts that seem incontrovertible at this point are that Brett Myers was arrested in the wee hours of Friday morning on the street near the team’s hotel in Boston. The arrest came after several witnesses called 911 to report that they had just observed Myers beating his wife with his fist and dragging her down the street by her hair. According to The Boston Globe, “She was yelling, `I'm not going to let you do this to me anymore.'”

Globe columnist, Dan Shaughnessy, lays out the facts and adds his comments in this morning’s column:

Not only do I agree with Shaughnessy’s assertion that the Phillies should have prevented Myers from making his scheduled start, I would like to take his argument even further. I believe that in the absence of swift and responsible action on the part of the Phillies, the Commissioner’s office should have intervened and forced Myers to be suspended pending an investigation of the charges. I understand the “innocent until proven guilty” argument, but an administrative action on the part of the Commissioner does not need the same level of “beyond the shadow of a doubt” proof required by a court of law before taking action to force a member of its community to seek help.

In egregious contradistinction to his inaction in this case, just last week Bud Selig reacted swiftly by requiring Chicago White Sox Manager, Ozzie Guillen, to attend sensitivity training classes in the aftermath of some ill-chosen remarks that Guillen had made about Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Jay Mariotti. Guillen was also fined and suspended for a separate incident in which a White Sox pitcher, David Riske, threw at an opposing batter. If Guillen did, indeed, utter the kind of homophobic insult that he is reported to have hurled at Mariotti, then he deserves to be reprimanded and called to account.

How much more, then, should Major League Baseball call to account and intervene when not just hurtful words have been thrown, but punches! Brett Myer’s wife was described as having a swollen face after the incident in Boston last week. But her literal “black eye” only highlights the symbolical “black eye” of the spectacle of baseball continuing to countenance a culture in which incidents of players, coaches and mangers committing acts of domestic violence are dismissed as, “Boys being boys.” It is outrageous!

On May 23, in my review of the Broadway show, The Color Purple, I wrote about the show-stopping tune, “Hell, No!” – an anthem to stopping domestic violence.

In looking at the question of whether Brett Myers should have been allowed to take the mound on Saturday at Fenway Park, I echo the words of Sophia, in singing about whether she would ever allow her husband to hit her again:

“Hell, No!”

I can only hope and pray that beleaguered Kim Myers will have the same courage and resolve.

And I hope and pray that the “leaders” of baseball will find the courage and manhood to stop turning a blind eye and stop enabling those within their ranks who cannot keep their aggression and desire to win at any cost under control and confined to the space between the white lines of the playing field.

Have we seen any sign that Bud Selig or the Phillies team leaders understand what they are dealing with here?

“Hell, No”!

For shame!


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