Jose Reyes Case Will Prove If the MLB is Serious About Tackling Domestic Violence

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On October 31, Jose Reyes was arrested at a resort in Wailea, Maui on charges of assaulting his wife Katherine Ramirez. It’s yet another atrocious case of domestic violence in major league sports. An internal investigation into the four-time All-Star’s case began Tuesday, and is set to become the first real test of Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy.

Put into place this past August, the MLB policy covers four main areas – treatment and intervention, investigations, discipline, and training, education and resources – in an effort to “deter future violence, promote victim safety, and serve as a step toward a better understanding of the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.” It gives direct disciplinary power to commissioner Rob Manfred, who has the authority to determine the severity of punishment in any given case.

When asked about the policy and process of regulating penalties, Manfred stated that the key for league officials was “being proactive.” “This will be the first test, and I think it will withstand the test,” he added.

While at first glance it may appear as though issues of domestic violence and sexual assault have been less prevalent in the world of baseball, the truth of the matter is that the MLB has had its fair share of incidents, all of which were handled quite poorly. Think of men like Colorado Rockies pitcher Pedro Astacio, who pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of punching his pregnant wife and proceeded to start on Opening Day in 2000. Allegations, no action. Charges, no filing.

As was stated in a recent conversation between NPR‘s Audie Cornish and SB Nation‘s Mike Bates, the MLB has “no track record in terms of dealing with players who’ve been involved in domestic violence cases.” But “that track record is about to start.” Whereas teams had all of the disciplinary power in the past – with the league often turning a blind eye, letting things slide without interfering – players will now go on unpaid administrative leave while the commissioner’s investigations are underway. One can only hope that Manfred passes this first major test and shows not even the slightest inkling of goodwill towards cases dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault.