Bud Selig was asked yesterday about the Ray Rice situation and Major League Baseball’s approach to domestic violence. He mentioned that, in the past, having a league policy on domestic violence had been discussed but tabled in favor of these things being handled on a case-by-case basis. He also said this:
“We haven’t had any cases I’m happy to say for a long, long time. I can’t remember when the last time was,” Selig said. “I’m grateful for that. But we deal with situations as they occur. The only thing I want to say, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are a social institution and I’m proud of our record in dealing with a myriad of subjects, and we deal with them, I think, quite effectively.”
Maybe I’m missing one that is more recent, but a quick check of HBT posts shows that Everth Cabrera was charged with domestic violence in 2012. The charges were dropped. Former major leaguers Andruw Jones was arrested for domestic violence in late 2012 and Wladimir Balentien earlier this year. Francisco Rodriguez was charged in 2012, with charges eventually being dismissed. Manny Ramirez was charged in 2012 with charges dismissed when his wife was “uncooperative” with the investigation. Pitcher Jeremy Jeffress was arrested in 2012. Bobby Cox was just inducted to the baseball Hall of Fame two months ago. Indeed, there is a long and lamentable list of domestic violence incidents — some of them very serious — in recent baseball history.
Maybe two years ago was “a long, long time.” Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe baseball’s many past cases of domestic violence can be relegated to a past in which attention was simply not paid to such matters like it is now. I wouldn’t take that approach, but I do appreciate that baseball cannot do anything about incidents from the past now.
But it certainly can avoid taking Selig’s approach of “well, we’ve been good for a while so we need not do anything about it now.” That’s exactly what led to the NFL being where it is right now. Having a reactionary, ad-hoc approach to such matters instead of making its values with respect to domestic violence clear and putting all players and employees on notice that committing such acts will lead to consequences, not just from the law, but the league.