by Caesar Cliffius
Punching someone in professional sports is absolutely unacceptable if the sport is neither boxing nor mixed martial arts.
Sure emotions may run high during the course of a baseball game or any other competitive game for that matter. Violence is not the answer and appropriate actions and penalties should be meted out to deter such incidents from happening.
The springboard for this article is the recent event that transpired in the Dominican Republic. If you haven’t seen the video or heard about the incident please allow me to bring you up to speed.
Jose Offerman, the two-time MLB All-star utility player is the current manager for the Licey Tigers. Catcher Ronnie Paulina was thrown out of the game by umpire Daniel Rayburn for arguing balls and strikes. Offerman rushed out and took up the argument himself before throwing a right hand at Rayburn. On the video it is unclear if the punch even landed but Rayburn fell to the ground as though hit by Iron Mike Tyson.
Offerman was escorted off the field by security officers and taken to the local police station.
This is not the first time Offerman has shown his propensity for violence. In 2007 while a member of the Long Island Ducks, he was batting when he was hit by a fastball thrown by pitcher Matt Beech. Jose charged the mound still armed with his Louisville Slugger, and struck Beech and catcher John Nathans with it.
Nathans subsequently sued Offerman for $4.8M because he was left with permanent injuries which ended his baseball career.
It is time that professional baseball associations take a close look at violence and decide on a penalty which will not only be a deterrent but an absolute non-forgiver.
Yes, I am speaking of suspending a player for at least one year without pay, if not banning him from the sport forever. I am not just speaking of baseball either. Look at basketball. Ron Artest completely disgraced himself and his organization by allowing his emotions to take control of his body.
In 1977 the Los Angeles Lakers were playing the Houston Rockets. A scuffle ensued and Kermit Washington, in retaliation punched one of the Rockets. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar grabbed the Houston play in a protective gesture and Washington looked away to see Rudy Tomjanavich running toward the altercation. As Rudy ran toward him, Washington hit him with a right hand that leveled him in a pool of blood. It was a horrendous sight. Here is is if you wish to view it.
Hockey is undoubtedly the worst culprit when it comes to violence. I believe it has tamed itself to a degree, but there was a time when you couldn’t watch a highlight without seeing at least two men throwing hands.
Here is my point: if I want to watch fighting I will watch a boxing match or a mixed martial art bout. I don’t expect baseball players to act like they are performing at the Coliseum in front of Caesar in a death match.
I know some have the mindset that it is no big deal, let boys be boys, a little fighting never hurt anybody (look at the video of Rudy T and tell me that), tired idioms, ad nauseum.
If an athlete realizes he will be banished from the sport forever, if he throws a punch, I think there would be a bit more biting of the tongue and letting bygones be bygones.