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Report: Dodgers minor leaguer sexually assaulted hotel maid in 2015

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The Daily Beast reports this morning that, in 2015, a Dodgers minor leaguer who was assigned to the Arizona Instructional League sexually assaulted a hotel maid. The article raises questions as to how the Dodgers subsequently handled the matter given that the player was soon signed by another team.

According to the report, the player had been harassing the maid, making inappropriate comments to her and asking her out on a date despite her clearly signaling that she was not interested. This went on for some time until, eventually, he grabbed the maid from behind, she pushed him off and he grabbed her again. He eventually relented and the maid reported the incident to hotel staff.

According to internal emails, the Dodgers investigated the incident and, by all indications, believed the maid’s account. High-ranking officials were in the loop, including then-head of player development Gabe Kapler who said in an email that he was “embarrassed for our organization.” Another Dodgers official said that the player was lucky not to be in jail. The police were not called, it seems, as the maid did not wish to alert authorities.

There was not, however, any suggestion that the Dodgers notified Major League Baseball about the incident. Rather, they handled the matter internally, taking the player out of Arizona and assigning him to the Dominican Republic developmental league. A couple of months later the Dodgers released him, but he was soon signed by another organization, presumably one with no knowledge of his history. The player’s identity was not reported by the Daily Beast as he was not charged with a crime.

As the Daily Beast notes, the fact that the alleged perpetrator was punished by one team but allowed to play for another soon after without either the other team or the league knowing about it reveals a gap in how MLB handles allegations of sexual assault across the league. For its part, MLB said it “considers the matter closed.”

One would think that, in light of this report, MLB would do better than that and would, instead, explain why a team was allowed to keep such a serious matter quiet and why teams are not required to alert the league of such incidents.

 

White Sox to extend protective netting to the foul poles

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Recently two more fans suffered serious injuries as the result of hard-hit foul balls at major league games. One of those fans was hurt at a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field earlier this month. In response, the White Sox have taken it upon themselves to do that which Major League Baseball will not require and extend protective netting. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The White Sox and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority are planning to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles, according to a source.

Exact details will be announced later, but the changes will be made as soon as possible this season.

If recent history holds, they will not be the last team to do it.

Major League Baseball has taken a laissez-faire approach to protective netting over the past several years, requiring nothing even if it has made recommendations to teams to do something. The last time it made a suggestion was in December 2015 when teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts and within 70 feet of home plate. In the wake of that recommendation only a few teams immediately extended their netting, primarily because if you ask a business to do something but say it is not required to do anything, it is not likely to do anything.

It would not be until September 2017, after a baby girl was severely injured at Yankee Stadium, that the rest of baseball was inspired to extend protective netting in keeping with MLB’s recommendations. Indeed, it was a land rush, with all 30 teams extending their netting by Opening Day 2018. While a generous interpretation would have everyone seeing the light simultaneously, my slightly more experienced eye saw it as a “don’t be the only team not to have extended netting by the time the next lawsuit hits” approach.

In the wake of the two recent injuries Major League Baseball issued a statement about how it “will keep examining” the matter of additional protective netting while, again, mandating nothing. Now that the White Sox are extending netting to the foul poles, however,  it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which other teams follow suit. Sooner or later, enough will likely have done so to create critical mass and make any team which has not done so to make the effort out of self-preservation.

Or, more generously, good sense.