Last season, perhaps as a response to the NFL’s problem with domestic violence, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred took a hard-line stance on domestic violence in baseball. He left it up to his discretion whether to discipline a player, even if they weren’t charged.
His first challenge under this rule comes as star Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes faces domestic violence charges in connection to an incident in Hawaii over the offseason. Manfred has put Reyes on leave with pay until his case is resolved. How the near future goes will help determine the way cases like this are handled in the future.
First of all, it takes a while for cases like this to sort themselves out. Will Reyes continue to be placed on leave for months if the case doesn’t get resolved right away? The MLB Player’s Association has said it will fight for his rights if the case and resulting discipline aren’t handled in a timely manner.
This also raises an important question: if you’re placed on leave until your case is resolved, wouldn’t this encourage players to quickly settle their cases out of court in order to get back on the field? That’s certainly a possibility and that might do more harm than good in terms of the league’s image.
Despite all the gray area that currently exists with the league’s policy, people have to respect the way Manfred has gone about it. He’s not going to stand around like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell largely did as domestic violence ran rampant in his league.
Baseball, largely, has regained its positive public image since the end of the Steroid Era and the league doesn’t want to tarnish all that progress.
As we wait to see the result of the Reyes case, realize this is essentially a test case for the league. There will be plenty of trial and error and the results of all similar cases in the future will be determined by how that trial-and-error process goes.