During Friday night’s World Series game between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel hit a home run off Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish. Back in the dugout, Gurriel put his fingers to the corners of his eyes and pulled the skin to mock the appearance of Darvish, who is Japanese.
The gesture was caught on camera, and Gurriel received a five-game suspension without pay. The punishment would be appropriate if not for the fact that it won’t start until next season.
Major League Baseball’s commissioner Rob Manfred dealt with a similar situation earlier this year when Matt Joyce of the Oakland A’s and Kevin Pillar of the Toronto Blue Jays were each suspended two games for using an anti-gay slur. Their punishment was enforced immediately. Why is the timing of each punishment different? Because World Series games are more important, apparently, and that calls for different rules.
Manfred decided to postpone Gurriel’s suspension due to the impact his absence would have on his team’s performance. He didn’t think it was fair for one player’s actions to affect the entire team playing in a World Series.
“Obviously World Series games are different than regular-season games, and I used my best judgment as to where the appropriate disciplinary level fell,” Manfred said. “I understand that people may have different views. But it was my best judgment that this timing was appropriate.”
The timing is not appropriate because the incident didn’t occur five months from now, it occurred during a World Series game on Friday night. The fact that the incident did occur during such an important game means the punishment should fit.
It’s true that World Series games are far more important than regular season games. That can’t be argued. But, for me, the importance of the game means players should be held to a higher standard of behavior. Why? Because when the game is important, there are a whole lot more people watching. There are a whole lot more kids watching.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Sunday night’s game had almost 20 million viewers. On the same network, FS1, regular season games averaged just over half a million viewers in prime time, according to Forbes.
And that doesn’t account for the millions of people who saw the racist gesture on the internet.
Maybe the Astros wouldn’t have won on Sunday if Gurriel had been suspended. He did hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to tie the game. Maybe the Dodgers would be up 3-2 in the series. I think that’s a fair price to pay when your players act the way Gurriel did.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Ryan Suppe studies philosophy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @salsuppe