By Joe Tarring

In Sunday night’s Cardinals v Reds game, Zack Cozart was running hard to second on a potential double play ball, forcing a rushed throw to the shortstop by Skip Schumaker. Stretching to catch the feed, Ryan Theriot’s foot was pulled off the bag and Cozart was called safe. Replays were inconclusive but at best Theriot could only claim to be making an absolute minimal amount of contact with the bag. The umpire’s safe call was a perfectly reasonable one. Theriot’s reaction was anything but.

As soon as the safe call was made, Theriot exploded like a man that was spoiling for a fight. He charged towards the umpire screaming like a lunatic, made some sort of contact, and was immediately ejected. Theriot wasn’t finished though and continued his mindless yelling and had to be restrained by another umpire who Theriot then started clawing at and shoving in an attempt to get closer to the original target of his ire. The broadcast team’s immediate reaction was to talk about what a big fine and suspension was coming Theriot’s way.

On Tuesday MLB handed down it’s sentencing. Theriot was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for two games. Naturally, Theriot has immediately appealed this decision and will be in the line-up until that appeal is heard. Setting aside the fine, which I would only be speculating about, a couple of points: First, the suspension is almost inconsequential. Two games for that reaction? Carlos Beltran recently missed three games with ‘flu-like symptoms’ and David Ortiz got a three game ban for being approximately as aggressive as Theriot, only his quarrel was with a man who has just tried to hit him with a hard projectile travelling at over 90 mph.

Secondly, the fact that Theirot can appeal this inconsequential sentence, and possibly have it reduced, makes a farce of the whole process. Theriot can’t think he’s been hard done by here, he just wants to serve his sentence at a more convenient time for him and his team and, really, why wouldn’t he?

Whatever the offense, MLB has to hand out punishments that act as deterrents. The Cardinals can cope without their shortstop for a couple of days, just as they would if Theriot was suffering from ‘flu like symptoms’ rather than being suspended. Make Theriot sit for 5, 6 or 7 games and force the team to deal with the consequences of his temper.

As for the appeal process, it would be nice to see the Commissioner’s office clamp down on player’s wasting their time on that front. I absolutely support giving the player’s a right to appeal, but if that appeal is rejected or deemed a spurious one then MLB should be tacking on extra games and dollars to the original suspension and fine.

I’m under no illusions that the Player’s Union will go for any of this, but the current system is simply far too heavily weighted in its member’s favour.

4 Responses to “MLB’s Discipline Policy Isn’t Working”

  1. Well there is a big difference between Theriot’s explosion and Ortiz’s. Mainly, Theriot did not throw any punches and there was no bench clearing brawl. You could also argue that Theriot had a player trying to take him out at second which can be just as dangerous as having a pitch thrown at you. (Although I don’t think the pitch thrown inside to Ortiz was intentional.)
    As far as appeals go, you have to realize that MLB suspensions work much differently than a court of law. A player does not get to present his side of events unless he appeals. I don’t think anyone should be given a punishment without getting the opportunity to tell their side of the story so can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t appeal.
    All that said, I understand your point. If any of us were to act like Ortiz or Theroit at our work places we’d be facing immediate termination and likely find ourselves in court. Perhaps if MLB started letting these players show up in court on assault charges the players might start to get the idea that starting fights in their office is a bad idea.

    • Joe Tarring says:

      My comparison with Ortiz was really to point out that there’s a huge difference between aggression to opposing players and aggression to umpires. I’ve written before about the needless of most take out slides but Theriot’s anger wasn’t at a player trying to hurt him in the way Ortiz’s was.

      As for your point on the appeals process, that for me just highlights that it doesn’t work. Get it done quickly, surely MLB has the wherewithal to convene a disciplinary hearing via conference call following a game or the even the next day?

  2. dave knox says:

    understand your point and agree as theriot is concerned yet agree with much of the rebuttal……problem is there is no consequence for the umpire mistakes……player behavior should be far more severely dealt with…to the point it would be eliminated(severely curtailed) but umpire mistakes(not likely in these examples) which are often inexcusable should be publicly admitted and dealt with in a punitive manor….must affect the pocketbook of the offender

  3. Tim Thompson says:

    check out blog

    http://sportswtimteezyy.blogspot.com

    I agree with what you guys are saying here, the fact that an apology is all that is needed when an ump blows a call that could cost a perfect game and or the game, is what is wrong with the game. Players react to what they think is the right call when the play is made, as well as the so does the umpire. If there was a way to prove a right or wrong call in certain game changing circumstances then I feel these reactions might be eliminated and if they do occur then dealt with more severely.

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