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Why MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require a criminal conviction


When Aroldis Chapman was suspended under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, a good number of people — some of them commenters at this site — took issue with it because “hey, he wasn’t charged with a crime.” The same has been said about Jose Reyes and will be said about him again when he is suspended, as he certainly will be.This is perfectly acceptable under Major League Baseball’s policy, of course, which specifically says that a criminal prosecution or conviction is not required for the league to investigate and discipline a player.

That language is not self-justifying. It’s well-considered and is part of the policy for a very good reason: a huge number of domestic assaults — ones that really happen and for which there is copious evidence, not just he-said, she-said situations — go uncharged and aren’t prosecuted for reasons other than the merits of the case.

Sometimes it’s because, as the case in Reyes’ situation, the victim does not cooperate with authorities. And, of course, there are a lot of reasons for that in and of itself which have nothing to do with the actual crime that occurred. In other cases, especially cases involving athletes or other famous perpetrators, it’s because the authorities are loathe to treat a famous person like they’d treat anyone else accused of a crime. They get special treatment and serious charges are often diminished or swept under the rug completely.

Today I read something that, while having nothing to do with baseball, speaks very well to how that dynamic works, both through law enforcement and in media coverage of famous men accused of serious crimes. It’s by Ronan Farrow at the Hollywood Reporter and it involves the sexual abuse accusations of his sister, Dylan Farrow, against their father Woody Allen. Allen, of course, was never charged with a crime in the matter. Nor, until recently, was Bill Cosby charged with anything despite years of allegations in his case. Farrow talks about how and why there were no charges in his sister’s case despite there being considerable evidence and how the fact that there were no charges does not mean nothing bad happened.

Farrow is a lawyer and, importantly, — and contrary to what so many people like to say in these situations —  he’s not at all arguing for criminal sanction against his father without due process. Rather, he’s interested in the way in which figures who are plausibly accused of bad things are treated by those around them and, especially, by the media in these cases. How they’re given free passes because so many don’t want to consider that the famous or powerful can be bad people or refuse to consider it because they fear repercussions or a lack of access if they do deal with the accusations frankly. Finally, and most importantly, he talks about how, perversely, the lack of charges and lack of scrutiny on the famous person is often turned back around and used as a cudgel to attack the victim anew.

Again, the story is not about baseball and not about domestic violence, but the dynamic that Farrow identifies is identical to the dynamic that so often plays out when athletes are accused of domestic violence. It’s the reason why MLB, in its wisdom, decided not to simply outsource its domestic violence operation to law enforcement and choose to throw up its hands if and when charges are not filed. And it’s an excellent reminder for all of us, when we discuss these cases, to understand that what appears on a docket sheet is not necessarily reflective of the facts of a case.

Regardless of what happens with the police and the court system, we should continue to scrutinize — fairly — those accused. And we should not disparage or disbelieve accusers simply because the legal system is ill-equipped to deal with these most difficult cases.

Giants beat Mariners again in road game playing at home

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SAN FRANCISCO — The nomadic Seattle Mariners are taking their bats from the Bay Area to Southern California for three more “home games” on the road.

Wilmer Flores hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh inning of the San Francisco Giants‘ 6-4 win Thursday that sent Seattle to a second home defeat played in San Francisco’s ballpark because of dangerous air quality in Western Washington.

The series was moved because of smoke from all the West Coast wildfires. Now, the Mariners are altering their air travel reservations once more and headed to San Diego for a weekend series at Petco Park.

“It’s disappointing, but its the world we’re living in in 2020,” Mariners starter Nick Margevicius said. “There’s a lot of things we can’t control, a lot of things in the season, a lot of things in the world right now.”

Darin Ruf homered in the second inning to back Giants starter Tyler Anderson, who hurt his own cause when he was ejected in the bottom of the third by plate umpire Edwin Moscoso for emphatically expressing his displeasure with a walk to Kyle Lewis.

“Tyler knows that that just can’t happen,” mangaer Gabe Kapler said. “It puts us in a really tough spot.”

Wandy Peralta followed Anderson and threw 49 pitches over a career-high three innings, and Rico Garcia (1-1) worked one inning for his first major league win. Sam Selman finished for his first career save, stranding two runners when Lewis lined out and Kyle Seager flied out.

“Peralta came up huge for us,” Kapler said. “As tough as that was it was equally rewarding and in some ways inspiring to see him come out and give us the length that he did and battle. It gave us a chance to climb back into the game. I thought our guys continued to be resilient.”

JP Crawford hit a two-run single in the second following RBI singles by Tim Lopes and Phillip Ervin, but Seattle’s bullpen couldn’t hold a three-run lead.

Margevicius was staked to an early lead but Kendall Graveman (0-3) couldn’t hold it. The Mariners capitalized in the second after Anderson hit Seager in the backside.

Seattle has fared better against San Diego this season after losing all four to San Francisco. Manager Scott Servais had prepared himself for the possibility his club might have to stay on the road a little longer.

“I think with our players and everybody else it was going to be a two-day trip. That’s what we were led to believe that everything was going to clear up in Seattle,” Servais said. “We can’t control the weather it’s bigger than all of us and with what’s going on there with the smoke. Certainly understand why we have to go but I don’t think anybody was really prepared for it.”

Brandon Crawford contributed a sacrifice fly and Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson RBI singles for the Giants.

Austin Slater returned at designated hitter for San Francisco and went 0 for 2 with a walk as he works back from a painful right elbow. Luis Basabe singled in the sixth for his first career hit and also stole his first base.

“I didn’t think about it,” said Basabe, who will gift the special souvenir ball to his mother. “I was just happy to get the opportunity.”

Justin Smoak made his Giants home debut as a pinch hitter in the sixth facing his former club after he signed a minor league deal earlier this month following his release by the Brewers.

Anderson, who was trying to win consecutive starts for the first time this season, received his second career ejection. The other was Aug. 13, 2016, while with Colorado.