Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are talking about alcohol-related incidents

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The other day we heard that the league will attempt to seek the option to discipline players involved in off-the-field cases — like DUI — when labor contract talks begin after this season.  Now the Associated Press is reporting that those conversations have already started:

 Major League Baseball and its players’ association are considering a formal plan for dealing with alcohol-related incidents in the next collective bargaining agreement. Two baseball officials confirmed the negotiations to The Associated Press on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are considered confidential.

The framework is there, what with the current CBA already providing for penalties involving drugs of abuse as opposed to just PEDs.  Obviously it’s not the same situation in that no one is suggesting that players can’t drink, so the violation part of any alcohol offense would not determined by MLB like it is with other drugs. Things they’d have to talk about would include offenses like DUI and drunken disorderlies and stuff and where it all fits in with the justice system.

Another way to go is to simply sidestep alcohol and deal with criminal activity in general.  That would have its own issues too in terms of what kind of behavior would warrant discipline. Drunk driving is one thing. Cheating on taxes is something else.  And given the way pleas go, you can’t really just say felonies lead penalties, misdemeanors don’t.

But even if it isn’t easy, I’m glad they’re at least talking about it.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.