Brewers Gallardo Arrested

Yovani Gallardo is going to pitch today. No one seems to care.

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Yovani Gallardo is three days removed from blowing a .22 BAC in the wee wee hours. Today’s pitching matchup in the Giants-Brewers game: Matt Cain vs. Yovani Gallardo. As far as baseball is concerned, Gallardo getting behind the wheel at three times the legal limit is a non-event. There has been and will be zero discipline for it.

Major League Baseball’s presumed rationale for this — because they’ve never, to my knowledge, explained themselves otherwise — is that there can and should be no discipline meted out to Gallardo or others who behave like he did because a DUI is not a baseball transgression.  And I suppose that holds up nicely enough. Unless, of course, you remember that:

All of that was just in the past year or so.  There are countless other examples if you go back through even recent history. Baseball and its teams can and often do suspend players and coaches for stuff that has nothing to do with baseball at all. And which involve behavior far less odious and dangerous than getting behind the wheel of a multi-ton automobile while intoxicated.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If Major League Baseball and the MLBPA felt that players driving drunk was as serious as, say, smoking a J in your apartment, they could agree that players would be subject to suspension or some other form of discipline. It wouldn’t even take that long to do. There may be a bit of haggling over when you suspend someone — right after the incident or right after they’re convicted? — but that could be easily handled and negotiated. It’s not the 1980s anymore. The league and the union are frighteningly cooperative and efficient when they want to be these days.

They have no desire to, however. Perhaps because baseball has always tolerated alcohol abuse more than it tolerates anything. Perhaps because there are still, to this day, fans who feel like Gallardo pitching poorly of late is way more offensive than Gallardo driving drunk.  But the fact that the first and seemingly only question that is asked is whether Drunk Driving Player X is able to play in the next possible game, it shows that they simply don’t care.

Maybe the league and the union will start caring after a player, as he inevitably will, kills someone while driving drunk. Hope they don’t wait that long. But it looks like they will.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.