With Jose Reyes’ arrest for domestic violence, Rob Manfred is on the spot

60 Comments

On Halloween night, Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was arrested for assaulting his wife. Reyes is accused of grabbing her by the throat and shoving her into the sliding glass door in their hotel room. She suffered injuries to her thigh, neck, and wrist and was treated at a local emergency room.

All reports of domestic violence are awful, but this one is different than most in that it sets the stage for a historic moment: baseball’s first application of its new anti-domestic violence policy.

In August, Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the players union, announced a comprehensive policy regarding players involved in domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse cases. Unlike the drugs policy, the domestic violence policy does not prescribe set punishments which are automatically carried out without the agency or judgment of the league. Commissioner Rob Manfred cannot simply refer to the policy, let its machinery do the work and not take a stand or make a judgement with respect to the player in question. Rather, the policy puts great responsibility on his shoulders to not just act, but to judge.

That’s because, in the absence of a minimum or maximum penalty, the Commissioner must issue the discipline “he believes is appropriate in light of the severity of the conduct.” Discipline will not be contingent on whether the player pleads guilty or is found guilty of a crime. Discipline will also not be subject to pre-policy precedent. Just because a player was not suspended or was suspended lightly in 2007, for example, does not mean that a hefty penalty leveled in 2015 can be overturned based on that precedent. We’re in new territory here.

And, at least for now, as Manfred is poised to issue his first bit of discipline under the policy, Manfred is unshackled by anything other than his conscience. He can set a strict discipline regime from the get-go without seriously worrying about being overturned or, at the very least, without being overturned absent strenuous opposition from Reyes and the union. And, of course, the discipline he does impose on Reyes will have an impact on more than just the baseball-playing fate of Jose Reyes. Pre-policy precedent is meaningless now, but Reyes’ precedent will be the standard from which all future domestic violence incidents are judged. At least roughly speaking anyway, given that the facts and circumstances of each case will be different and must be taken into account.

It’s a precarious place for Manfred to be. The risk of bad optics are legion, as his counterpart in the NFL can attest. Punish Reyes too heavily and he runs the risk of a battle with the union. Punish Reyes too lightly and he runs the risk of appearing to be soft on domestic violence. And, despite the apples and oranges nature of the domestic violence program and the drug program, the comparisons between suspensions under the two regimes will inevitably be made. After all, yesterday a Cardinals minor leaguer was suspended 50 games for smoking a joint. The fact that minor leaguers don’t have a union to protect them goes a long way toward explaining that disparity, but Manfred can’t expect all hell not to break loose if and when Reyes gets a suspension that is a fraction of that for behavior which is far more severe.

So here we are, at the brink of an historic moment. Rob Manfred is no doubt in his Park Avenue office today, surrounded by his advisors, discussing what to do with this shortstop. And knowing full well that what he does with this shortstop will have repercussions that last far longer and which loom far larger than whatever punishment is handed down in this instance.

Take your time, Rob. Get this one right. We’re all watching. No pressure.

UPDATE: Major League Baseball just released a statement about the Reyes case:

“As evidenced by our Joint Domestic Violence Policy, Major League Baseball understands the seriousness of the issues surrounding domestic violence, and our Policy explicitly recognizes the harm resulting from such acts.  Consistent with the terms of this Policy, the Commissioner’s Office already has begun its investigation into the facts and circumstances.  Any action taken by the Commissioner’s Office in this matter will be wholly in accordance with this Policy.”

Given that it’s the offseason and Reyes will neither play nor be paid for months, the league has plenty of time, fortunately, to consider this well and get this right.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

atlanta braves
Adam Hagy/Getty Images
1 Comment

ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).