Maybe it’s because I’m a rabid Blue Jays fan, but to me hitting coach Brook Jacoby’s 14-game suspension seems to be incredibly steep. A month or so into the baseball season, and it is the harshest penalty a player or coach has received this year – and there have been several. For comparison’s sake, Kelvin Herrera got five games for his role in the Oakland-Kansas City brouhaha that lasted three games earlier this year. (A few that I have talked to believe Herrera got off lightly, considering he threw at Lawrie’s head on purpose).
During the White Sox-Royals fracas about a week later, Herrera got another two games, instigator Yordano Ventura got seven, and Lorenzo Cain received a two game penalty. White Sox pitchers Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija were each handed down a five game suspension. Many of the players listed above were seen throwing punches, which virtually guarantees a multiple-game punishment. Earlier this week, Red Sox Slugger David Ortiz sat for one game after bumping an umpire. Most of these punishments were fair (except for the aforementioned Herrera’s). And yet, we don’t know what Jacoby did to earn 14 games.
Now maybe Joe Torre and the league were stiff with Jacoby because he is a coach and therefore held to a higher standard than the players. Fair enough. But if you give Shark five games for punching a player, Herrera five games for throwing at Brett Lawrie’s head and Ventura seven games for basically starting both fights, then Jacoby at most gets maybe eight games.
The main issue I have is that, because it happened in the tunnel after the game, there was no footage of it for the league to base its decision on, and since they are not transparent with what went down, it is very hard to obtain an objective viewpoint. The league claims – via eyewitnesses, including allegedly, a security guard – that Jacoby had umpire Doug Eddings pinned against the wall and was choking him. Jacoby and Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion – who said he was witness to the events – attest that it was nothing more than a heated verbal spat.
How does the league choose which side to believe? Why are they appearing to take Eddings and his crew’s side over Jacoby’s? (I could go on about umpires, but that’s another post entirely). In a statement, Jacoby felt that it was a biased and unfair decision. The point is we don’t know; Torre hasn’t released his reasons why he levied such a harsh punishment, and it is impossible to know whether the league corroborated the alleged state of affairs. If any video footage exists and it proves that Jacoby was physical with an umpire than fine, although depending on the extent of the contact, 14 games may still be excessive, but because there either wasn’t any or the league refuses to release it, and Torre and Co. are being vague about the circumstances that led to the Blue Jays hitting coach being benched for two weeks, fans are left wondering what on earth went down. Why is a coach getting twice as much as a player? If players are the ones we see everyday and are the “role models” to young fans everywhere, shouldn’t they be the ones the league makes an example of? Especially All-Stars like Sale and Shark. Plus, why was only Jacoby suspended? What about Doug Eddings and his crew?
The league needs to be more transparent with its disciplinary process, especially in regards to events that take place off the field. There needs to be accountability, and more importantly, there needs to be a model of consistency when it comes to handing down fines and punishments. There is a system in place for PED offences, so why can’t a similar metric be used for physical altercations or player/manager/coach-umpire disagreements? And why, in most cases, do umpires seem to get a free pass?