A few suspensions were announced from Major League Baseball over the past couple of days. The breakdown:
Jonathan Papelbon – 7 games, undisclosed fine.
This seems a little strong. Papelbon maintains that the gesture he made was not obscene in any way and is part of what his normal on-field habits are. When I first saw it, I didn’t take it as obscene either. Gabe Kapler, who has known Papelbon for 10 years, contacted the Phillies closer and asked him about it. Pap told him in no uncertain terms that he had no intent to offend fans and that he and Joe West have a checkered history. Most people aren’t buying Papelbon’s defense, but I am.
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Papelbon did not appeal his suspension, which was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought he would have had a good case after Joe West, in my opinion, inflamed the situation by first ejecting Papelbon and then grabbing his jersey and throwing him to the side later.
Joe West – 1 game, no pay.
This is a joke. West for me was way out of line. First, it was not his place to eject Papelbon. MLB would have taken any action they deemed necessary for disciplining Papelbon. He didn’t need to step in. Jack McDowell gave Yankees fans the middle finger in 1995, obviously obscene, obvious intent. No umpire from that crew threw him out.
Grabbing Papelbon by the jersey was completely unprofessional. If West didn’t want to argue with Papelbon he should have just walked away. We see that all the time from umpires. He went well out of his way to eject Papelbon, so he needs to be a man about it and take Papelbon’s argument. It was a weasel move in my opinion, and he deserved a significantly longer suspension. A precedent needed to be set.
Marcus Stroman -- 6 games, undisclosed fine.
The Blue Jays pitcher will appeal and maintains that there was no intent with the pitch he threw at the head of the Baltimore Orioles’ Caleb Joseph. This followed an incident that took place in the top of the inning between Jose Reyes and Joseph on a play at home plate.
Stroman has a tough sell here. His actions after the pitch that he claims got away from him told us something different. He was combative and his body language was unsympathetic. He also has pretty impressive walk and HBP numbers which tells us pitches don’t really slip out his hand much.
MLB has an interesting call here. If they drop the suspension by even one day, they come off as compromising their beliefs. The suspension has to stay at six.