MLB Suspends Shane Victorino, JUST Shane Victorino
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” — Terence Mann in Field of Dreams
But, really, baseball hasn’t been completely constant. Sure, there are still three strikes, four balls, nine innings and games don’t end in ties unless Bud Selig is tired and wants an All-Star game to end. The Green Monster, the hit-and-run, and the double-switch haven’t changed, 3,000 hits, 300 wins and 500 home runs are all still benchmarks and DiMaggio’s 56–game streak remains unthreatened. (Joltin’ Joe’s record won’t fall to a guy who wears a schmedium-size jersey.)
But, in an era with Nipple Gate, school shootings, bum fights and offensive rap lyrics, baseball and the other major sports have made a point of cracking down on anything that might be seen as controversial—especially physical altercations during games. Baseball used to operate under the “Chicago Way”—put one of our guys in the hospital; we’ll put one of yours in the morgue. Which is to say, show up our pitcher by admiring your home run and the next batter is going to wear a fastball.
Now, Major League Baseball royalty arbitrarily decides who is at fault and what penance they owe the crown. If thou doth badmouth the umpires in a press conference, thou must forfeit 10 gold coins to the crown. If thou useth performance-enhancing drugs, thou must be removed from competition for seven fortnights. If thou doth wager coin on baseball, thou shall be sent from the kingdom in exile.
Since Major League Baseball has decreed that incidents like this are for them to handle in the towers of their castles—and not for the knights to joust out down in the fields—the rulings they hand down in the wake of such events are and should be carefully examined and sometimes—if necessary—scrutinized.
On Friday night Ramon Ramirez got frustrated that he and the Giants were getting shelled. So, he plunked Shane-o. Dirty pool on his part, but not the end of the world. The ump should have tossed him immediately and shown Victorino—and his fiery teammates—that order would be restored.
Instead, Blue was slow to react and Victorino took two steps towards the mound—at which time it’s important to note that Ramirez had already begun walking down the mound towards the plate. Then Whiteside stood on the infield grass swiveling his head back and forth like he was running a contact drill at Lehigh. Polanco realized that he was the closest to a potential scrum and had to be there to protect his teammate. Whiteside form-tackled him before he even had a chance to verbally participate in the altercation and all hell broke loose.
Yesterday, Major League Baseball handed down its ruling on Friday night’s extracurricular activity, and Victorino was the only one involved to be issued a suspension. The blatantly intentional pegging was the catalyst to the ordeal, and Victorino didn’t even initiate the jersey tug-of-war that was its conclusion. Victorino was wrong for brushing aside an umpire to return to the scrum, but how can he be the fall-guy in this situation? He was the only one to touch an umpire, but the umpire only tried to hold back Victorino while Whiteside tried to go all Terry Tate on Polanco.
Twenty years ago a reasonable reaction out of Shane-o would have been for him to peg Ramirez with his helmet and try to ground-and-pound him—turning the diamond into an octagon. He was upset after Ramirez pulled a scumbag move, but quelled his anger while Whiteside tackled his teammate, and he’s the only player that gets suspended? It just doesn’t seem right. If Major League Baseball insists on governing these situations themselves, they should at least be punching the right people with their iron fist.