Monday, August 21, 2017

Token Gesture - Kinsler Fined $10k, .09% of $11m Salary

News has it Ian Kinsler's money-only Angel Hernandez fine was $10,000. Here's why that's not enough.

Payroll database Spotrac indicates that Kinsler is drawing a salary of $11 million in 2017. Spread out over a 162-game season, this amounts to approximately $67,901 per game, whether Kinsler plays or not. $10,000, thus, represents 14.7% of a game, or just over an inning of regulation ball. Naturally, a non-suspension means the team doesn't have to account for a replacement, so considerations such as WAR are additional benefits of a fine-only disciplinary action.

The Kinsler-Hernandez saga continues...
Kinsler's disciplinary history includes two monetary penalties: a one-game suspension in 2010 for returning to the field to celebrate a home run after having previously been ejected, and the present $10,000 fine for his comments about Angel Hernandez.

It should be readily apparent to the reader that both of Kinsler's disciplinary issues have involved ejections. As such, it should also be evident that Kinsler is now a repeat offender of inappropriate umpire criticism—the first in defiant physical action (returning to the field) and the present in public verbal castigation.

Kinsler appealed, but ultimately dropped the 2010 matter and sat out after Texas clinched a playoff berth in late September. As a result, Kinsler surrendered nearly $22,000, or about .5% of his $4 million salary.

By contrast, Kinsler's $10,000 fine in August 2017 amounts to .09% of his $11 million salary. In other words, Kinsler's 2017 fine affected his pocket book far less significantly than his 2010 dropped-appeal suspension for what may be deemed more severe misconduct (and a repeat offense).

Although manager Brad Ausmus quipped that Kinsler's $10,000 fine is the largest non-suspension penalty he can recall (note: MLB fined Nyjer Morgan $15,000 for fighting in 2010), let's illustrate what .09% actually means.

For an employee earning a salary of $100,000, forfeiting .09% would correspond to a fine of just $90.

MLB Umpires' wristbands have come off.
So, perchance, we want to devise a system wherein a player is punished in the pocketbook for an amount that is proportional to what the player's overall salary is. We want the fine to be .x% of the annum.

Gil's Call: The proportional system already exists and has a name: Suspension. Unfortunately, MLB chose not to use it with Kinsler and instead imposed a greater-than-usual lump sum penalty for a player whose large salary ensures that the financial impact of the fine is rather insignificant. In essence, the amount of money Kinsler will forfeit is of so little importance to a player who continues to declare his righteousness in criticizing an umpire he dislikes that it ultimately does nothing to dissuade him nor others from engaging in similar misconduct.

Finally, as I wrote in "Angel Hernandez, MLB, and Discrimination (Part 2)," reviewing and analyzing the Hernandez v MLB lawsuit, Angel Hernandez's skill level is largely irrelevant. Just because Kinsler may or may not have "a point" in regards to Hernandez doesn't change the overall problem posed by a player receiving insufficient punishment for belittlement of an umpire. It shouldn't matter in a structural sense whether Kinsler criticized the #1 umpire in the league or whether he criticized the last-place ump. At the end of the day, this is about a player undermining the league itself, who is responsible for hiring, assigning, and retaining officials.

There are proper avenues to employ, for instance filing internal complaints...but publicly impugning an umpire is improper and does nothing to enhance MLB's brand: after all, it is MLB and only MLB who hired Angel Hernandez or any other umpire in the first place. A more organized front office would know that.

Speaking of which, in a turnabout-is-fair-play way, MLB as of 2016 considered Hernandez one of the league's 21 best umpires, in assigning him to the 2016 National League Championship Series. Would the League have tolerated player's similar criticism of, say, Tom Hallion, who hasn't achieved that level of postseason distinction since 2011?

As an aside, MLB allegedly notified WUA and/or its members in writing that their white wristband protest would lead to fines assessed against the umpires, and offered to meet, after which the union called off the wristband protest. It was not revealed what those fines might have been, or how they would have compared to Kinsler's, proportionally speaking relative to overall salary.


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