Derek Norris suspended for the rest of 2017 for domestic violence

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Major League Baseball just announced that free agent catcher Derek Norris, most recently with the Tampa Bay Rays, has been placed on the Restricted List and will be ineligible for the remainder of the 2017 season, including the postseason. The discipline is being imposed based on the results of the league’s investigation into domestic violence allegations leveled at Norris by his ex-fiancee earlier this year. Norris has agreed not to appeal the discipline.

Back in June Norris’ ex-fiancee, Kristen Eck, implied in an Instagram post that Norris assaulted her two years ago. Then, a few days later, she expounded on the incident in a personal blog post, claiming that on the night of October 20, 2015, she woke up to find Norris on the phone with another woman. Eck said she took the phone away from Norris to try to confront the other woman over the phone. Norris, she says, approached her from behind and put her in a choke hold. When she tried to get away, he grabbed her by the back of her hair to pull her back to him and then held her by her upper arms as “he tried to drunkenly explain that he wasn’t talking to another female.” Norris denied the allegations soon after Eck’s story went public.

Based on the league’s statement, Major League Baseball didn’t buy that denial, which Norris continues to stand by. Rob Manfred:

“My office has completed its investigation into the allegation that Derek Norris violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence Policy on October 21, 2015. Mr. Norris cooperated throughout the investigation, including submitting to an in-person interview with MLB’s Department of Investigations. After reviewing the evidence, I determined that Mr. Norris’s conduct warranted discipline under the Joint Domestic Violence Policy. While Mr. Norris denies the allegation against him, he and I have agreed that he will spend the remainder of the 2017 season away from the game and that he will forfeit $100,000 of his remaining termination pay from the Tampa Bay Rays, which will be donated by the Rays to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence. The charitable organizations will be selected by the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association.”

Norris, who was released by the Rays at the end of June, will be unable to play either major league or minor league baseball, nor will he be able to sign a contract with a Major League organization until after the World Series. And of course, he’s out $100,000. Given that he has not signed with a team before now and, as of today, would not have been eligible to participate in the playoffs even if he had, the suspension itself is really more symbolic than substantive. The league takes its offenders as it finds them, however.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.