In the 2nd inning of Friday night’s World Series match-up, Houston slugger Yuli Gurriel decimated a Yu Darvish pitch, sending a juiced Rawlings baseball careening down the left field line of Minute Maid Park. Upon arriving back to the dugout, fresh from a trek around the bases that gave Houston a 1-0 lead, Gurriel decided some good ol’ fashioned racism was in order!
Minutes later, cameras pointed in the direction of the latest World Series “hero” caught Gurriel making an inappropriate gesture directed at Dodgers starting pitcher, Yu Darvish. He would later admit to spewing a discriminatory remark as well.
Honestly, I don’t see how anyone can interpret Gurriel’s response as being anything other than racist.
This afternoon, Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, announced that Yuli Gurriel has been suspended without pay for the first five games of the 2018 season. Yes, you read that correctly. While Gurriel will be rightfully suspended for his blatant act of racism, he won’t have to serve his punishment until next season.
Why? Great question!
Manfred, speaking in front of the media prior to this evening’s Game 4, said now was not the appropriate time to suspend Gurriel.
“Mr. Gurriel will be suspended for five games without pay. During the offseason he will be required to undergo sensitivity training, and the Houston Astros in a gesture of support, have agreed to donate the foregone salary to charitable causes,” Manfred dished during his press conference.
Commissioner Manfred went on to say that, for 4 reasons, he is delaying the suspension until the start of the 2018 season.
Let’s take a closer look at these four reasons and discuss their validity, shall we?
Reason 1: “First of all, I felt it was important that the suspension carry with it the penalty of lost salary.”
Wait, so the players aren’t paid for these World Series games?
Oh, that’s right. They do get paid. In fact, they get paid very well actually.
Each player on last year’s World Series winning Cubs team earned $368,871.59. The Cleveland Indians, runners-up in the 2016 Fall Classic, saw each of their players receive a bonus of $261,804.65.
With those figures in mind, let’s examine Yuli Gurriel’s 2018 projected salary.
According to Baseball Reference, Gurriel is due 12.4 million dollars next season.
Assuming that cap figure is correct, the Houston slugger stands to lose approximately $382,716 during his upcoming five-game suspension.
While I’ll concede that the amount of money Gurriel will lose next year exceeds any bonus he will earn for appearing in the World Series, I’m hard pressed to believe your average fan cares. I know I don’t. Gurriel, along with his 47.5 million dollar contract, doesn’t care either.
It’s not about the money, Mr. Manfred.
It’s about accountability for one’s actions. It’s about standing up for what’s right. The league should have suspended Gurriel for the remainder of the series while also withholding his World Series bonus.
Final Ruling on Reason #1: ERROR
Reason # 2: “I felt it was unfair to punish the other 24 players on the Astros roster. I wanted the burden of this discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer.”
Oh, I find this reason for Gurriel’s delayed suspension to be the most egregious of them all.
It’s unfair to punish the other 24 players on the Houston roster by having a key player sit?
It’s a team sport! Don’t we teach children that we win and lose as a team? That we don’t point fingers at individuals for game-related grievances? As Bill Belichick continually preaches, it’s up to the players to “do their jobs” each and every game. If they fail to do their job, then the team sinks.
Well, my friends, Gurriel failed to do his job last night. He failed to be a decent human being, role model and professional. Yuli Gurriel deserved to suffer the consequences and so did his team.
Final Ruling on Reason #2: ERROR
Reason # 3: “I was impressed in my conversation with Yu Darvish by his desire to move forward, and I felt that moving the suspension to the beginning of the season would help in that regard.”
I have no doubt that Yu Darvish was nothing but respectful in the aforementioned conversation. I’m also sure that he does, in fact, wish to move forward. But how exactly does waiting six months help “in that regard?” This will continue to be an issue that Darvish, and Gurriel for that matter, will be asked about throughout the offseason and into spring training.
The league would not have to worry about such questions leading up to next season if they had simply chosen to do the right thing today.
Final Ruling on Reason # 3: ERROR
Reason # 4: “Last, when I originally began thinking about the discipline, I thought that delaying the suspension would allow the player the opportunity to exercise his rights under the grievance procedure. It now appears, and I have every expectation, that he will not be exercising those rights.”
Well, as a general supporter in unions, I can see where Manfred is coming from here. However, his wording is too formulaic for my liking. It’s nothing more than a justification to a cowardly decision thanks to the language found in the current CBA.
Do you think the players’ union would have put their necks on the line to defend a blatant display of racism that was caught on camera and displayed to an audience that garnered a 10.4 overnight rating (16% lower than last year’s Game 3, by the way)? Given the public’s harsh response to Gurriel’s idiocy, it would have been a PR nightmare.
I don’t buy it, Mr. Manfred.
Final Ruling on Reason # 4: ERROR
Deep down, Manfred knows that he would have likely succeeded in banning Gurriel for the rest of the series. He’s also aware that it would have been an unprecedented decision and one that would’ve attracted a lot of negative attention toward the league. By postponing Gurriel’s ban, Manfred must believe that he’s splitting the difference and placating to all parties involved.
Well, from this fan’s perspective, he’s wrong. Now Gurriel, and the Astros, stand to reap the benefits of the commissioner’s cowardly call.