Actions Should Have Consequences
Last weekend, in what turned out to be his final act as a member of the Cleveland Indians, Trevor Bauer hurled a ball from the pitcher’s mound into the batter’s eye beyond the center field fence – some 375 feet away. It was a moment of pique. It was, in Bauer’s words, “unbecoming, childish, and unprofessional.” And his manager, Terry Francona, who has been around professional baseball his entire life (he was born during his father Tito’s 4th season in the Bigs), upon reaching the mound to take the vanished baseball from his starter’s hand, had the same reaction that most of us did:
Here's Terry Francona asking Trevor Bauer, "What the fuck is wrong with you?" (h/t u/efitz11) pic.twitter.com/XelIkIgMVV
— Brendan (@brendan_camp) July 28, 2019
Bauer knew, immediately, he had done wrong. He was immature and did an act that we would never accept from our children. What made this all the more glaring is that it happened on the field, in the full view of everyone in the park and on television. But these things happen every…single…day in ballparks across our great land (which, to be sure, includes Baltimore). The difference is that most of the time these outbursts occur in the tunnel or in the clubhouse. We might hear about them later – like when a pitcher breaks his hand punching a wall, or we may never. Existential question: Does our ignorance make these actions okay? If a player destroys a urinal with a 34 oz. bat, but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Did it happen?
All of this led me to another question: Who cleans up the mess? Who pays for the damage?
Two nights ago, after another horrible outing, Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello took out his frustration on two television monitors above the tunnel. He smacked them on his way to the showers (after surrendering 6 runs…again), shattering them both.
I could not get a feed of last night’s game, but I feel certain that those monitors were replaced. Some AV guy in the organization worked late Wednesday night, or came in early Thursday morning, to make sure that the evidence of Porcello’s temper tantrum was wiped away. Was Porcello charged for the cost of the monitors? Did they dock his paycheck for the AV guy’s overtime?
In fairness, Porcello did apologize (sort of): “I kind of wish I did that without cameras being on me…I apologize to everyone that had to see that.” So, I guess, had he smashed some monitors in the video room, his behavior would have been acceptable?
How many times have we seen a player destroy a water cooler after a strikeout? Those cost real money. It may not be significant money to a player making millions of dollars, but that is beside the point.
How about the time David Ortiz – the beloved Big Papi – took his lumber to the bullpen phone at Camden Yards? This was a player committing an act of vandalism right before our eyes. Was he charged with a crime? Was he charged at all? My guess is no, insofar as the Orioles gifted the carcass of that phone to Papi when retired in 2016.
Have you seen the clip of Brett Gardner chucking his helmet into the bat rack, only to have it fly back in his face, lacerating his lower lip. That eruption required six stitches. Who paid for those medical expenses? For the broken helmet?
Remember cult hero Chris Sale, going Edward Scissorhands to the White Sox throwback jerseys because he didn’t want to pitch in a collared uniform? He destroyed all of them, got sent home, and was suspended for five games. I guess that counts as paying the piper – but tell that to the clubhouse guy who had to scramble to outfit the team; the guy who utilized part of his budget to procure the jerseys; the guy who cleans, presses, and hangs Sale’s clothes – just right – each and every day. Sale apologized for his actions, but to whom? I sure hope he pulled that clubbie aside and said, “Hey pal, this was not your fault, and I hope I didn’t ruin your day. Here’s a Benjamin, have a meal on me.”
The point is, we allow athletes to get away with shit we would never accept from our kids. And, to make matters worse, there (seems to be) no repercussions for their bad acts. Just once I want to hear that a clubhouse remodel was paid for by the millionaire who took out his frustrations on a handful of inanimate objects. I would love to hear that Player X bought the entire organization a round of drinks for crushing a Gatorade cooler.
Truth be told, some of this may be handled internally, in kangaroo courts and in payroll departments league-wide. But we as fans are left in the dark. We as parents have to try to either justify the player’s actions (John Farrell said this of Chris Sale: “That’s a fiercely intense competitor”), or tell our kids “just because they do it doesn’t mean you can.”
But, contrary to Charles Barkley’s famous refrain, these guys are role models. And it would be great for us to learn the ramifications of their actions…and be able to communicate that to our kids.
In the case of Bauer, it was easy: he was traded two days later. I guess some actions do have consequences.
Now let’s see what the Indians do with The Wild Horse.