While the MLB Players Association’s Marvin Miller Man of the Year isn’t one of the most recognized awards in baseball, it honors a player who is most respected by their teammates and within the community. This year, the New York Mets elected Jose Reyes as their nominee.
Reyes, who was suspended for 51 games in 2016 by MLB for domestic violence, was selected by his teammates as the player most respected by his teammates based on his leadership on the field and in the community.
Jose Reyes is the Mets’ nominee for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award.
It’s an MLBPA honor, with players voting for who they “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.” https://t.co/Ef0WIFkHNh
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) October 12, 2018
Think about that for a moment. Then think about the disturbing details that came out about Reyes’ behavior. This is the player the Mets look to for guidance and leadership. A man they respect so much that they would nominate him for this distinguished award for character.
None of this should be surprising, though, because the Mets aren’t alone.
When Addison Russell’s ex-wife revealed details of his domestic abuse, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Madden publicly told a radio audience he had no interest in reading the details of Russell’s alleged physical and emotional abuse. Instead, he would wait for the report that provided both sides through MLB’s investigation to come out.
“I’m not going to be swayed one way or another by reading this. I really have no interest in reading this. I’m more interested in waiting for the investigation to finalize itself, and then I’ll read what’s going and what had been said once it’s been vetted properly,” Maddon said, via Chicago’s 670 The Score. “Anybody can write anything they want these days with social media, blogging, etc. So I’m just going to wait for it to play its course, and then I’ll try to disseminate the information based on both sides, MLB itself, along with the players’ union and getting together with Addison and his former wife, and then I’ll read the information to try to form my own opinions at that point.
Maddon defended his player until the end, but he wasn’t alone in this.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo took the same line when speaking to reporters about the details of Russell’s alleged abuse and even took a shot at MLB’s investigation.
“I guess the investigation is still on going, which is crazy because it’s been over a year now, right? I guess someone isn’t doing their investigative work very good,” Rizzo said, via Kelly Crull. “I don’t think…It’s tough. I haven’t read what it is, so don’t know what’s going on.”
Meanwhile, when Houston Astros reliever Roberto Osuna was being heckled by a fan in Cleveland for Osuna’s suspension for domestic violence, reliever Ryan Pressly confronted the fan and defended Osuna. While heckling a player about domestic violence crosses a line, it is also a terrible representation to stand up for your teammate in that specific instance.
This is emblematic of a problem with MLB, one that goes beyond the league office and resides within the culture of these clubhouses.
The focus is often on MLB’s league office failing to handle allegations of domestic violence against players responsibly and the punishments all allow for players to participate in the postseason. Additionally, front offices like the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs are all far too willing to use domestic violence as a method of acquiring a good player for a cheaper price.
Perhaps it’s time to shine the focus on clubhouses and how players so quickly defend their teammates who have allegedly committed horrific acts. It’s one thing to put up with being teammates with a person accused and suspended for domestic violence. It’s quite another to fully support them and defend them without even reading the detailed allegations against them.
MLB has a problem at every stage of its existence from top to bottom. Every single layer of the sport from league executives to general managers, skippers and players have been exposed within the past year for being ignorant to domestic violence issues and a failure to believe the alleged victims.
Now the Mets have taken it a step further, nominating Reys for an award to recognize an athlete “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.”
When there is an issue and belief so deeply rooted within an organization and sport, it reflects that dramatic change might be necessary.
There is a disturbing culture across executive offices and clubhouses in MLB and it must be fixed immediately.