It didn’t take long, but the governing powers within MLB have given a decision about Houston Astros reliever Bryan Abreu, following his allegedly intentional beaning of Texas Rangers slugger Adolis García in Game 5 of the ALCS. In a newly released ruling Monday afternoon, just hours before the scheduled Game 7, the league upheld their decision to suspend Abreu for two games. This is where Rangers fans point and say, “Yes! It’s only fair. The league and all six umpires got it right!” Well, to borrow a famous catch phrase from the great Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”
As if the Rangers didn’t feel like the underdogs, or maybe in this case, the stepchildren of the Lone Star State, now they have more reason to feel that way. While Abreu does face a suspension, the league said it will not be enforced until the beginning of the 2024 season. In other words, they tried to play both sides of the fence on the issue, but everyone can see right through it. This decision serves as a proverbial “slap on the wrist” to Abreu for something that could be seen as “assault with a deadly weapon” outside a 90-foot-by-90-foot diamond.
Now I get it, I grew up with “old school” type of baseball in the 80’s. Guys like Goose Gossage, Dennis Eckersley, Lee Smith, Randy Johnson and the great Nolan Ryan never feared backing a hitter off the plate. If a hitter got in the way, “it was his own fault,” right? “How dare he have the nerve to showboat or look at a home run that he launched into the stands.” Never mind it might have been the most important hit of his career to that point. Be stoic. Show now emotion. In other words, “Just do your job, but don’t you dare show anyone you love doing it or else you’ll get one right in the ribs.” Of course, it was only the ribs if the pitcher had any accuracy.
I hate to break it to some of the older generation, but that’s not how the kids do their jobs these days. In fact, most of us are quite passionate about our professions. Sometimes we even (gasp) pour OURSELVES into our work! For creatives like myself, we might not even be satisfied with a job unless we’ve left a little of ourself behind in it.
Gone are the days of the smoke-filled rooms with grumpy people hunched over desks as a demanding boss sucks all life and joy from a workplace. As a matter of fact, just look at your average MLB locker room. They’re full of Playstations and XBoxes, massage chairs, high-quality catered foods, fun music and almost any other way a player may wish to meditate and relax before what we can all agree is a pretty stressful workday.
And to some, professional sports is seen as “just a game.” But these highly-trained athletes, in most cases, have trained and conditioned themselves their entire lives to be in this position. There’s no doubt they have some fun when they run on the field with their teammates and take on their opponent.
So what’s the point here? This generation and the ones after us DO go to work with our emotions. But sometimes, it comes out with us. Sure, we can try to “leave our work at the doorstep” when we enter our home after a tough day. And yes, that’s what family, friends and loved ones are here for: to lift us up and help us work/talk through emotions and stress.
The same people that say it’s not okay to get fired up, slam a bat and jump in the air as you hit a clutch go-ahead three-run blast for a team in desperate need of action will turn around and say it’s okay for a pitcher to get offended by that and throw a ball at you at speeds of 100-MPH or more. Do we see the hypocrisy here?
This decision by MLB is a tough one. And sure, it’s consistent with the decision made about Yulieski Gurriel during the 2017 World Series. For those that don’t remember, he made a very racially motivated gesture and uttered a racial slur towards Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish after homering off of him in Game 3. Oh yeah, it should also be mentioned that he played for the Astros at the time. Yet, the officials within MLB delayed his suspension until 2018.
So come to think of it, they did stay consistent with themselves. That consistency is ruling in the favor of the Houston Astros, despite whatever egregious violation they’ve committed. After all, that wasn’t the only one from 2017 that went unpunished. So now, it’s par for the course.
This should fire up the Rangers, especially García, to see that Houston can get away with whatever they want. They don’t have to pay for it now … but the Texas bats … yes, they can now act as the mythical judge, jury and executioners. They can mete out the consequences to a team known for its disregard for the rules. So, Rangers hitters, tee it up high and let it fly tonight, gentlemen! Clearly the league doesn’t want you to. So do it anyway. After all, your opponent doesn’t care what the league says. Why should you?