The Astros blog Crawfish boxes raises an interesting question regarding the Astros’ signing of Brett Myers, who as most of you know, has a domestic violence history:
Considering the Astros once designated a player for assignment before
the story of his domestic violence charges even broke, this seems very
hypocritical . . . you can’t have it both ways. The Astros made the decision to deal with
Julio Lugo’s situation by immediately cutting ties with him. A valuable
player, Lugo was let go as the organization made a decision based on
off-the-field behavior. They drew a line at what’s acceptable behavior.
If that’s how they want to run things, I’m fine with it , but you lose
any moral high ground when you sign another guy with an alleged
incident in his past.
In the case of Lugo and Myers I can see a distinction in that Lugo’s thing was happening in real time while Myers’ was some time ago and maybe, just maybe, he’s made some kind of showing of rehabilitation or whatever that Lugo had not yet had a chance to do. And it’s probably worth noting that, though no one ever disputed what happened with Myers and his wife, the charges were dropped. That aside, I have to be honest and say that I have no idea what I’d do about guys with domestic violence issues if
I ran a baseball team.
On the one hand it’s really easy to say “screw
him, I don’t want him within 100 yards of my clubhouse.” But if you’re not merely sitting back and casting judgment — say, if you’re running a major league baseball team — you have to make some tough moral judgments about people. About their accusers, if the matter hasn’t been fully resolved by the justice system yet. Hell, about he justice system itself. Then you have to weigh that against the fact that your mission as a general manager is to win baseball games first and foremost, and that the jobs of many others depend on you carrying out that mission. Then you have to re-weigh that against the fact that, as a professional sports team, you do have some sort of public mandate however vague it may be. People notice what you do, and that matters. It’s the sort of mission for which a baseball front office isn’t really designed, so I’m not at all surprised that there has yet to be a definitive rule book written about this yet.
Personally I wouldn’t invite Brett Myers or Julio Lugo to my house for dinner. Hell, I’m a longtime Braves fan and the most I can muster for Bobby Cox — a guy who was charged with punching his wife the year the Braves won the World Series — is a cold admiration of his abilities while harboring more or less ill feelings for him personally.
But it’s one thing to cast judgment from afar and another thing altogether to run a ballclub. If I had to make a choice right now I’d probably cut Lugo, say no to Myers and steer clear of anyone else with that kind of history. But I think the issue is a bit too complicated in practice for the Astros to be accused of hypocrisy on this point.