As we know, Boston reliever Matt Barnes was given a four-game suspension for throwing at the head of Baltimore Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado. Most of the reaction that I was hearing around this time yesterday (when the news was announced) was outrage from Orioles fans that it was only four games. Admittedly, I was expecting between 5-10 games.
And incidentally, that expectation was based on the fact that numerous former players said publicly that Barnes should get ten games. It goes without saying that some sort of disciplinary action was necessary, as Barnes’ defense of the pitch just slipped wasn’t anywhere near adequate. In fact, it was borderline offensive to Machado and the Orioles. And the same is true of manager John Farrell‘s similar comments.
Barnes of course is available to play for Boston starting tonight because he’s appealing the decision – as is his right. And for the record, my personal opinion is that players should always be allowed to appeal decisions like this. So it makes sense that he should be available to play until his case is heard.
However where I do take issue is that sometimes these appeals can be strung out over several weeks. Machado himself waited that long to hear an appeal heard awhile back. In general sometimes the league will wait for the player to come to NY to play one of the two NY-based teams so the appeal can be heard in person in the league office. But would doing it over the phone or Skype by such a bad thing?
That aside, as I said many fans were enraged that Barnes only received four games. Many pointed to an obvious bias towards a team in Boston who seems to get breaks over the course of the way. I’m not here to sway you one way or the other on that…
…because I can’t say for sure how I feel on the matter. In other words, I haven’t really decided if I personally think it’s enough of a punishment or not. From my standpoint, the jury’s still out.
There’s no denying the severity of the actions which led to the suspension. Throwing at someone’s head is a serious matter that goes well beyond the game – regardless of what Barnes wants to say his intent actually was. Had he actually landed the pitch on Machado, I think the penalty would have been greater.
Again, I’m not sure where I personally stand on this. I do think that for pitchers the suspensions should be longer because they don’t play everyday. However this is a reliever, who will make more appearances than a starter. And one way or the other, Boston will have to play a man down on the roster during the four games – or whatever number of games the suspension ends up being.
And more so than losing game checks and not being able to play, that’s why players need to watch what they’re doing in terms of whether they’re committing actionable offenses. What Barnes did was actionable, regardless of what he said he was trying to do. But when guys get suspended for actions in games, the team plays those games a man down. So you affect your own career, as well as your team.
Again, I thought it would be between 5-10 games, and I was wrong. Had he actually landed the pitch, I suspect it would have been more. Apparently asthetics do make a difference. Had Machado left Camden Yards on a stretcher, odds are it would have been on the high side of that estimate. One way or the other, once Barnes’ appeal is heard he will have to begin serving his suspension immediately.