Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MLB Disciplines Springer for Anti-Gay Slur at Ump

MLB disciplined Houston's George Springer for directing a vulgar anti-gar slur at Angel Hernandez after the umpire called the Astros batter out on strikes April 23, but declined to specify what, if any, fine had been imposed.

Baseball issued an undisclosed penalty.
Springer was caught on camera calling Hernandez a "f*ing c*cker" several minutes after striking out looking during the eighth inning of the April 23 Twins-Astros game.

In responding to an inquiry from Outsports, MLB wrote, "This inappropriate behavior was addressed with Mr. Springer and the Houston Astros and he has been disciplined." MLB did not provide Outsports with clarification to a follow-up query as to the specific punishment.

After returning to the dugout and witnessing a subsequent Jose Altuve home run, Springer directed his slur at Hernandez in a moment captured on the Astros broadcast.

We didn't expect a real-world example so soon.
MLB's statement contained no mention of a specific fine and we can surmise that Springer was not suspended by virtue of his not having missed a game since the incident. Other than Outsports' inquiry, MLB has not publicly acknowledged the incident.

In Episode 14, of The Plate Meeting Podcast, we discussed the issue of umpire abuse and a sports culture that fosters unchecked vitriol to such a degree as to tacitly encourage misbehavior. We even anticipated that fans would latch onto personal insults because their distaste for officials might overpower any sense of decorum, decency, and ability to accept an unfavorable outcome.

We just didn't expect to point to another example of this sad state the same day that we released the episode.

If you haven't yet listened to our podcast on sportsmanship, visit the following link.
Related PostPodcast - Abuse & Sports with OSIP's Jack Furlong (5/1/19).

Outsports located several examples of fans applauding Springer for his vulgar comment, writing: "As upsetting as those two words can be to the LGBTQ community and its allies, it’s even sadder that Springer, saying them on camera, delighted so many straight fans."

Sidebar, What's the Problem? The issue is a slur used in the derogatory insult of "you are 'less than' because of this." For more, visit Slurs as the Shortcut of Discrimination from the Rivista di estetica journal.

Moral and right clashes with what's profitable.
Break with Precedent: By failing to publicly announce or specify Springer's penalty, MLB has broken with precedent it established in 2017, when it summarily suspended two players very shortly after their respective anti-gay slur incidents. In May 2017, the Blue Jays suspended CF Kevin Pillar two games for yelling an anti-gay slur at a Braves pitcher, while in August, MLB suspended A's outfielder Matt Joyce for two games for his homophobic slur directed at a fan in Anaheim.

Yet a player tosses such language at Hernandez, the one umpire whose very lawsuit initially alleged racial discrimination—and whose scope of allegations has since expanded to include ethnic- and gender-based discrimination in baseball—and we are left with, well, confirmation that biases still appear to exist in baseball, as if to spite Hernandez, MLB is willing to marginalize LGBTQ by appearing to depart from precedent or parity.
Related PostAngel Hernandez Petitions Court for Permission to Speak Publicly About MLB's Alleged Discrimination (3/21/19).

History, Umpire Abuse: It's no secret that discipline for abuse of officials remains fairly insignificant. The latest public Union-League dispute occurred in September 2018, while in 2017, we catalogued the 2011-17 history of MLB-WUA discord, including the league's increased reluctance to discipline players and coaches for umpire abuse.
Related PostMLBUA Calls for BOC Action After Latest Umpire Abuse (9/23/18).
Related PostWUA-MLB Relations Deteriorate with New Umpire Protest (8/19/17).
Related PostPsychology & Marketing - Why MLB Discipline is Weak (5/19/16).

A picture of a bunch of dollar signs over LA.
Footnote...Fines Can Be Tax Deductible: According to the MLBPA Basic Agreement, most fines for on-field conduct allow the player to choose whether to pay the fine to the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) or the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, which are both charitable organizations with 501(c)(3) non-profit status.

This essentially means that a player, such as Springer, who is fined, could deduct the fines as contributions or donations to a charitable organization. The so-called penalty thus is a tax-deductible charitable contribution.

Footnote...QOC: So...was Springer right about the call itself? According to the StatCast numbers for the strike three call in question, the pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -0.28, pz 1.36 [sz_bot 1.56 / RAD 1.437 / MOE 1.354]). Pursuant to UEFL Miller Rule 6-2-b-2, the pitch falls within the acceptable margin-of-error-aided borderline range by just 0.072 inches; however, ball three immediately preceding the strikeout was located higher and in the strike zone without any consideration for margin-of-error (pz 1.55, sz_bot 1.65 / RAD 1.527]).

Which means Springer could have been called out on strikes when he took the 2-2 pitch and that would have been a correct call. Had RoboUmp officiated this at-bat, Springer would have struck out on 2-2.

Would he still have reacted if he struck out one pitch earlier as he did after the 3-2 strike three call? Just like MLB's precise punishment for Springer, we may never know.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Broadcast catches Springer's anti-gay slur in Houston (HOU)


Post a Comment