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Major League Baseball and Domestic Violence: The National Pass-Over

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

While numerous news organizations and sportswriters are fawning over the fodder that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has given them in the form of his complete disregard for properly policing the Ray Rice situation, a long-overlooked specter needs to properly be addressed: Major League Baseball’s disgusting lack of a policy on domestic violence.

Remember, this is a league that has been both praised and disparaged for its various stances on controversial criminal, or, at the very least, rule-breaking, actions. MLB has gone after two owners: Marge Schott because of her anti-Semitic remarks, and George Steinbrenner for player tampering. The former move was universally hailed as the proper stance to take, while the latter lingered in murkier waters. Similarly, Pete Rose remains as divisive a topic as ever: never a Hall of Fame season goes by without Baseball Tonight spending equal or greater time on his deserving to be inducted as they do on the most pertinent players on the ballot. The Steroid Era came and gone with varying levels of success, once again; the Mitchell Report implicated 89 players, but we still acknowledge Barry Bonds as our home run king. Major League Baseball runs a strict dichotomy, garnering admiration for their tough crack-downs while managing to always overlook key aspects of any controversy. The national pastime fancies itself as a national pass-over when it comes to one core issue, though: domestic violence.


When Ray Rice’s cold-blooded attack on his then-girlfriend finally came to be viewed, the fact that a public outcry was needed for any substantial action to be taken was enough for the NFL’s leadership to find themselves under fire. But Bud Selig understood that he was closer to being in Roger Goodell’s position than outsiders may have imagined, as a similar indecent occurred involving an MLB player, and Selig had nothing to show for it.Former Twins and Yankees player Chuck Knoblauch was arrested for striking his ex-wife around the same time as Rice’s attack.


The lack of fanfare around Knoblauch made it so that his arrest, not a first for him regarding domestic violence, either, went largely unnoticed. Despite his former-player status, some journalists were savvy enough to uncover that during Selig’s tenure, numerous players were involved in domestic violence, and none faced even the slightest hint of punishment. None were discussed in the media by the MLB, and few times by their individual teams. The league has literally no policy regarding domestic violence, despite the comparable history of it when stacked up against the NFL and NBA. The reasons why are unclear, but one could presume that the league initially didn’t envision its players even having the time to commit infractions: with teams either playing or traveling almost every day during the season, there’s almost 200 days of constant motion for the Major League teams.

In the NBA and NFL, however, breaks are frequent, and there is a drastically different culture surrounding the leagues.

We must understand that historically, MLB isn’t without its share of scandals or criminal activities, but the ways in which they’ve handled them and then flat-out passed over myriad other crimes is indicative of a culture that turns a blind eye and lives in a fanciful dreamland where being the national pastime automatically exalts and cleanses the league of any transgressions committed by its affiliates.

Today, both Cris Carter and Hannah Storm showed just how powerful the reactions to these attacks are, and how deeply we are all affected by the actions of a hateful group of people. Domestic violence, like any form of violence, should be immediately halted and handled. Major League Baseball has balked at the challenge.

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