1.I dread this, but it is looking like it is going to be “US Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday. I have accumulated three stories that fit under that heading, because each one of them is simultaneously annoying, sensitive, under-reported, and difficult to process. Procrastination isn’t ethical, however, so today is the day. Ugh.
2. Today’s New York Times Sunday Review is again light on President Trump Hate, after last week’s orgy. I was discussing yesterday’s post about the draft letter excitement with my sister, a not-quite-resistance member who is a better lawyer than I am and intermittently reasonable despite hating and fearing the President worse than she does that Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She agreed that the news media’s elevation of the draft letter to front page status was biased journalism and self-evidently silly. “The news media believes that Trump is so incompetent that it is their job to try to help the country get rid of him as quickly as possible,” she said. She also confirmed that this is the attitude of the “resistance,” Democrats and progressives as well, and she hangs out with all of them.
Her candor was welcome. It’s also an admission, in my view, and I told her this, of an anti-democratic and unethical attempt to undermine our institutions. We remove Presidents by elections, not manufactured impeachments or 25th Amendment removals on contrived grounds. What my sister calls fear of dangerous incompetence is really objections to style, rhetoric and policy, none of which are justifiable reasons to remove a President before an election.
I also pointed out to my sibling that it is not the news media’s job to conspire with partisan opponents to remove a President. In fact, it is unforgivable.
3. What’s the difference between the National Football League and Major League Baseball? Well, one difference is that when a star NFL player is caught on a video cold-cocking his wife-to-be in a hotel elevator, the NFL’s first response is to do nothing, and when a second string catcher’s ex-fiance says she was abused on social media and then deletes the post, that’s enough for MLB to suspend the player under its domestic abuse policy. Ethically, I’m not sure which is worse.
Derek Norris is a free-agent catcher who isn’t currently on a major league team’s roster. He was released by the Tampa Bay Rays in late June, a few week after his former fiancée, Kristen Eck, wrote an Instagram post that Norris had physically abused her two years ago. She wrote in part,
“I approached our kitchen island with the phone in my hand and Derek approached me from behind and put me in a choke hold. At this time, I thought he wanted the phone. I threw the phone onto the kitchen island and tried to get away. Derek then grabbed me by the back of my hair to pull me back to him. He eventually let go and as I turned around he grabbed me by my upper arms so I couldn’t leave as he tried to drunkenly explain that he wasn’t talking to another female.
After this I tried to go to our bedroom to get my phone to call my mom so she could come help me. He stood in front of me cornering me so I could not get to my phone. He kept trying to talk to me and deny what he was doing. I eventually could grab my phone and get into our guest room and lock the door. I grabbed my suitcase and called my mom so she could come get me.”
Later she wrote,
“When I wrote my post on Sunday evening, I felt empowered. I was so proud of getting out of a relationship that was not right for me. I was proud that I left with nothing and could build my life over. I was proud I could finally find the courage to say that I was hurt, damaged, scarred and scared but still found a way to create a life for myself. All I wanted to was to share that. I want more people to know, they can change their circumstances at any time. I still find myself hesitant to share what happened, because, “it wasn’t that bad”. I didn’t bleed, I didn’t break bones, I was not hit, kicked or thrown to the ground. I question, if my experience is powerful enough to help women. Is going through this worth the outcome? My intention is not make the man I loved, and still have love in my heart for, look like a monster, because he isn’t. Life chewed him up and spit him out just as it did to me. I am sure if his work, family, finance and stress situations were different, this would have been different. But they weren’t, and I had words hurt me and his touch hurt me. I will forever have that shape who I am. Already, women have reached out to me living in similar circumstances, many MUCH MUCH worse than I could imagine. With those interactions, I know, that putting myself out there to share will help others to find a way to leave, start over and create something beautiful.”
Norris denied the allegations then and denies them now. His former fiancée took down the post; I’m not sure what that means. She did not report the alleged attack to the police. MLB’s suspension will coast him the remaining $100,000 that is owed to him by the Rays. He’s not appealing the suspension. Why, you ask? He’s not appealing, I assume, because he will be a free agent over the off-season, and at 28, with an All-Star game on his resume, still has value as a catcher. Norris knew, or if he didn’t his agent surely enlightened him, that if he doesn’t get this controversy behind him quickly, it will cost him millions of dollars, and not just a hundred grand.
Although Norris is the fifth major league player to be disciplined under baseball’s domestic violence policy, he is the only one disciplined without a police report, based only on a social media post. Yes, Eck’s passionate narrative seems credible, but someone cannot be fairly found guilty and punished for an offense, in law or in fairness, based solely on the unsubstantiated allegations of another—particularly if they are later recanted or withdrawn.
This is a terrible precedent, and the slippery slope is already sliding: MLB. is currently investigating Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, whose wife, Melisa, wrote on Instagram that Russell had cheated on her, prompting a friend of hers to post that Russell had once struck his wife. Russell, now in the process of getting a divorce, has denied the accusation.
The policy MLB seems to be establishing will allow players innocent or guilty to be extorted by girlfriends, and spouses, ex-and current, who know they can cost a player millions and even a career by posting an allegation of abuse on social media, without the claim ever being reported officially or investigated by authorities close to the time it occurs. That isn’t fair, just, responsible or competent.
I’m sure Mattress Girl approves, however.
I also find myself wondering if Norris would be treated this way if he were not a currently unemployed reserve catcher, but a key player on a play-off seeking team. Would the King’s Pass take over?
5. This baseball season has featured more ethics issues and controversies than any within memory. I’m pondering whether to start a spin-off blog devoted to baseball ethics. I’m sure at least ten people would read it…nobody actually involved with baseball, of course.