Yesterday, Yovani Gallardo made his regularly scheduled start for the Brewers, despite the fact that he was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence on I94 in Milwaukee. Gallardo pitched well, hit a home run and was instrumental in gaining the Brewers a victory and a sweep of the San Francisco Giants.
The incident did not go unnoticed in the national media. They largely focused on the lack of a firm, baseball-wide DUI policy to handle situations like this. At this point, it’s really hard to fathom why baseball hasn’t stepped up and institute a policy. It’s clearly a PR problem for the league, and despite the fact that they’ll suspend a player for taking amphetamines, PED’s or even smoking marijuana if they’re still in the minor leagues, there is no policy for to handle DUI’s.
The lack of a policy to handle the issue officially hasn’t stopped many from saying that the Brewers should have taken action on their own. There is some disagreement as to exactly what the collective bargaining agreement allows individual teams to do on their own in terms of suspending a player for driving under the influence without pay, but it certainly is well within their rights to bench a player for whatever reason they see fit.
So that’s the question for you, Steve, should the Brewers have suspended Gallardo and prevented him from pitching in yesterday’s game?
I would have supported the Brewers for suspending Yovani Gallardo for his turn in the rotation. Now the team can’t technically “suspend” Gallardo for his DUI, but the organization could take a hard line and skip his turn in the rotation. Yes, he’d still get paid because MLB can’t issue a fine, but at least it would send a message.
I’m not the first person to suggest skipping his turn in the rotation, and the most common rebuttal is this isn’t a punishment for Gallardo since he’s just getting a day off. I would hope as a competitor, getting a start skipped would send a message. It would also put the rest of the team on alert that this behavior won’t be tolerated. It’s as much of a club punishment for the entire team as it is for the one individual player. Twenty-five guys should keep each other in line when it comes to a topic as serious as drunk driving.
I was asked directly on twitter by a member of the Madison media if I would bench Gallardo, even though the team can’t give him an unpaid suspension without running afoul of the players union. My response was that I would, but that I’m not the guy with $85 million invested in the team’s success this year.
It feels easy for me to say that the team should make the symbolic move of benching Gallardo, because I’m not the one who stands to gain or lose money based on what happens to the team this year. I think in a competitive environment like MLB, with lots of money riding on decisions, it’s hard to ask a team to take steps to punish themselves when they know that their competitors aren’t going to be holding themselves to the same standards. This isn’t a moral argument, but rather a practical one. Morally, he absolutely should have been suspended and made into a public example.
Ultimately, I think it’s imperative that MLB get’s it’s head out of the sand on this issue and comes up with a league wide policy to deal with the issue consistently. Then teams aren’t facing potentially million dollar decisions where they have to worry about what they’re doing to their chances of winning at all. That is taken care of and the only consideration left is what else to do. I liked what you said to me the other day about him being expected to do community outreach while on suspension. Having him do that, regardless of whether he is suspended, would be my first priority as a team in handling this.
What disappointed me the most about the situation were the fans who went out of their way to say that Gallardo had already paid for what he did and now we should just judge what he does on the field. This is beyond a baseball issue and Gallardo should be judged as a member of the Milwaukee community. Anyone, regardless of their profession or level of fame, should go through the same level of scrutiny.
Gallardo pitched well on Thursday afternoon against the Giants. It was good to see him get his season back on track after two rough starts, but it had nothing to do with what happened two nights earlier. He does not redeem himself with a good pitching performance or hitting his first home run of the season. Those are baseball accomplishments, and while nice, they don’t go towards proving you’re a better citizen.
I agree completely, and this is actually a pretty good argument for why keeping him off the field for that game is an important message that the Brewers should have sent, simply by not giving him a chance to “redeem” himself through his play. What a ridiculous notion that is, but I saw what you saw and it’s out there among both fans and media members.
Ultimately, for Gallardo, redemption is only going to come in two forms. First, obviously, is that time goes by and this never happens again. Second, he’s going to have to do more than just apologize in terms of making this right with the public by being an advocate to change societal patterns. That’s not going to be easy for him, but it’s certainly more meaningful then playing baseball well on the field in terms of showing remorse and doing something to right the wrong.