Cleat Geeks

What does the Ortiz suspension say about MLB?

Yesterday, MLB handed out 2 separate suspensions to 2 separate players for 2 separate instances.This will be my first of 2 articles that will look at the two different suspensions and see what they tell us about the game of baseball currently.

The Suspension of Big Pappi

I am starting with this one because it is the most cut and dry. David “Big Papi” Ortiz was suspended for 1 game and fined an undisclosed amount of money MLB said Ortiz was punished by senior vice president Joe Garagiola Jr. for making contact with umpire John Tumpane during the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against Baltimore. It is known throughout MLB that you can argue with an umpire all you want, but once you make contact with an umpire, there is going to be some form of consequence leveled by MLB.

Ortiz has decided to appeal the decision, which confuses me. If you make contact with an umpire, you will receive discipline. This is a fact even if the contact is incidental. Which begs the question, why is he fighting the penalty? To MLB, contact is contact and therefore punishable. He only received a 1 game suspension and a fine, which I would assume is a low end punishment for his actions.

In my research for this article I discovered on May 12th 2014 there was an incident where an umpire, Paul Nauert actually touched then Detroit Tiger Tori Hunter in the face while he was having an altercation with Baltimore Oriole pitcher Bud Norris. Tori said after the incident when he realized that MLB was investigating the contact between he and the umpire, “When he tapped me in the face, I actually looked at him like I came back to,” Hunter said. “He stared at me and said, ‘Torii, you’re better than this.’ And I told him, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ Everything just calmed down because of Paul. He did a great thing. I appreciate that.” Hunter went on to say, “He was just trying to help me. There’s nothing to really investigate.” And MLB agreed they never punished Nauert for the incident.

On June 3rd 2013 MLB announced that St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina will be suspended 1 game and fined an undisclosed amount of money for making contact with umpire Mike Everitt. After the game Everitt even told reporters he thought the contact was incidental, yet Molina was still fined and suspended. Molina eventually dropped his appeal and served the suspension he was served.

Boston manager John Farrell talked with MLB officials after Sunday’s game and said he was surprised by the suspension.

”If there was any contact, it was slight if at all, and it wasn’t anything intentional I know that,” Farrell said. ”There was a lot of frustration on David’s part. Even in review of the film, it didn’t look like he broke the plain of the front edge of the plate.”

”It’s kind of a weird situation,” Ortiz said before Tuesday night’s game at Tampa Bay. ”I’m arguing with the third base umpire, and then the home plate umpire is the one who ended up kicking me out of the game. I’m just appealing it and go from there.”

So it sounds like Ortiz is upset that 1 umpire over ruled another umpire, but he is the home plate umpire, and was closer and could see Ortiz’s reaction. As far as the contact that took place according to MLB between the 2, Ortiz says he does not recall any contact.

Now that we have all the details and some past incidents that are similar lets answer the title of the article. What does it say for the current state of MLB? In a word, consistent. Even with a new commissioner, the suspensions are consistent. And that is a good thing, especially when all of these types of cases are looked on in a case by case basis. It seems like no matter the player, or the team, if the incidents are similar, then so is the punishment. If we agree with the punishment does not matter, as long as it is consistent. It is kind of like a strike. If we don’t agree that the low pitch is a strike, but the home plate umpire consistently calls it all game we can’t argue.

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