Arrest of Jose Reyes and MLB’s New Domestic Violence Policies

Jose Reyes with the Colorado Rockies in July

The Colorado Rockies recent shortstop acquisition Jose Reyes could become the first player to face the new domestic violence policies set by Major League Baseball. Reyes was recently arrested in Maui, Hawaii on accusations of assaulting his wife. Maui police have reported that Reyes’ wife, Katherine, told them on October 31st that Reyes grabbed her by the throat, subsequently slamming her into a sliding-glass door at a resort. Apparently, she suffered injuries to her wrist, neck, and thigh, and was treated at the Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Although Major League Baseball doesn’t have a real problem with the issue of domestic violence, commissioner Rob Manfred has followed the lead of the National Football League in revising his sport’s policy. The new domestic violence policy was put into effect in August after stiff negotiations with the players union. The new policy allows the commissioner to set a punishment as he sees fit with no required minimum or maximum punishment, and he can also allow for counseling and psychological evaluations. Additionally, Manfred can hand down a punishment regardless of the proceedings of Reyes’ case. However, Reyes would have the opportunity for an appeal. This aspect of the new policy resembles that of the NFL. The most famous, recent example applies in the case of defensive end Greg Hardy. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Greg Hardy for over half of the season last year despite the fact that Hardy proclaimed his innocence on charges of beating his girlfriend, and was acquitted after the defendant failed to show up in court.

Much like the early NFL investigation into the case of Greg Hardy, the early MLB investigation into the case of Jose Reyes is being spearheaded by the commissioner. Manfred said of the new policy, “The key from our perspective was being proactive.” Obviously, Manfred is trying to avoid the embarrassment that the NFL has faced in recent years in dealing with cases of domestic violence by players. When Roger Goodell initially handed Ray Rice a two-game suspension for assaulting his then-fiance, there was massive backlash from the media against the league as the punishment was deemed too light. Manfred will be in the tough position of handing out a punishment that will be deemed fair to all parties.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred

Were Manfred to hand out too hasty of a punishment and Reyes is proven innocent, he may be viewed as trigger happy, calling into question his restraint. However, were Manfred to continue to allow Reyes to play without punishment, he may be viewed by as apathetic or unsympathetic to the issue of domestic violence. This situation is truly a balancing act, and will be one of the first big tests for the baseball commissioner of less than a year. Considering the fact that Manfred is directly filling the shoes of beloved former MLB commissioner Bud Selig, he will be sure to approach the case with caution. Manfred will look to continue a long reputation of the commissioner office’s good standing with owners, players, and fans across the nation.

Manfred understands that the spotlight will most certainly be on the office of Major League Baseball during the proceedings of this case, especially after the debacles of the NFL. For example, the NFL punished receiver Josh Gordon for abusing marijuana, a drug that is legally medicine in 23 states and D.C. Gordon received a year-long suspension from the league, compared to an initial two-game suspension from the league to Rice for assaulting his soon-to-be-wife in 2014.

The above video is shocking evidence of Ray Rice assaulting his wife in a hotel elevator. When the video came out, Roger Goodell justified his handing out a two-game suspension by claiming that he had not yet seen the video. Thus, he couldn’t quite understand the severity of the situation and didn’t want to be unfair. When evidence later came out against the claims of Goodell, the league was placed in an even harsher light than they were before as they seemed more content to protect their players and profits, rather than the supposed integrity of the league. Hopefully, Manfred can learn from the mistakes of Goodell and make sure that he has all evidence on hand before making a rash decision that could come back to haunt him.

Jose Reyes still has two years left on his contract worth a total of $44 million. Reyes was acquired by the Colorado Rockies earlier this year in a deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays (Reyes’ previous team). Despite the fact that the 32-year-old Reyes has seen a decline in his defensive ability over the past few years, his offensive numbers from last year (.274 BA with 24 SB) are still respectable. As a result, the Rockies will hope to have Reyes back for the start of the season so that he can work for every cent of his $44 million deal. Manfred’s ruling is expected before the start of spring training in February.

How Basketball Mega Contracts Fill Seats, Not Trophy Cases

ESPN NBA All-Star Photo in 2011. Left to Right (Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard)

In this picture include three of the five currently highest paid NBA players in Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard respectively. The other two non-pictured members of this exclusive group include Joe Johnson and Carmelo Anthony. Now, there is no problem with NBA players earning what they are owed. After all, basketball is a multi-billion dollar industry that doesn’t exist without the contributions of great and entertaining players. However, when a player’s contract outweighs their value to the team in terms of winning regular season games, and/or a championship, mega contracts can be a little tough for basketball purists to swallow.

Ever since the 2011 NBA lockout, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has been able to negotiate for an increase in the player salary cap. This has allowed players like Kobe and LeBron to negotiate for shorter, more lucrative contracts than ever before, often referred to as “mega contracts.” With additional revenue entering the league from television deals, many players can expect to earn more than they ever would have before. As a result, many players have shifted their focus from winning championships to earning as much money as possible. In turn, owners have increasingly hindered coaches’ abilities to put together the most winning team possible in favor of personally selecting a team that generates the most box-office. What has resulted is a painful reality for many basketball fans of formerly great and storied franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks.

Kobe Bryant salary: $25,000,000. Photo taken by LakerNation.

The Lakers organization is currently owned by the incompetent sibling-duo of Jim and Jeanie Buss, whom have arguably driven a once-great team into the ground. Knowing the Lakers were on the decline with an aging Kobe and a terrible supporting cast of young players, the owners decided to pay Kobe an enormous amount of money that would have been better suited finding a decent array of players to play around Kobe. By paying Kobe $25,000,000 a year, the Lakers have forced Kobe to carry a losing team with no shot of glory. “Why?,” one may ask. Because Kobe Bryant is box-office. Despite the fact that the Lakers barely going to win games, let alone make the playoffs, fans still want to see Kobe in the final years to a championship-filled career.

Carmelo Anthony Salary: $22,875,000. Photo taken by sportsstressofblogitude.com.

Another example of the value of box-office trumping the value of victory is the New York Knicks. In order to retain a steady fan-base and maintain revenue, the franchise decided not to let Carmelo Anthony go. Instead, they chose to get rid of the contracts of non-box-office players and sign Anthony to a 5-year mega contract worth over $100 million. A team once ripe for playoff contention won just 17 games last year with the burden of victory placed solely on the back of Anthony. However, as long as fans still buy tickets to see one of their favorite players, and apathetic front office in many organizations will continue to operate on a profit-over-championships basis.

Mega contracts are not necessarily bad for basketball, but they do reduce the value of winning. These contracts have tailored the game toward the pockets of high-value players and owners rather than the team’s fan-base, leaving loyal supporters to root for collective losers. As a result, fans have seen the extreme decline of formerly great, contending teams to nothing but shells of their former selves.