Julio Urias was arrested- Time for the Dodgers to step up
Addison Russell was guilty. He used emotional, physical and verbal abuse to torment his ex-wife as was documented in a blog post by her. Russell quickly became baseball’s monster, a figure of repulsive action and an opportunity for swift response and reparation against a person who had done so much wrong.
Russell sat under the league’s magnifying glass. He was the fan’s choice of topic and the league’s nightmare. Russell was suspended.
For some, even the Cubs, that was enough. 40 games off. But, for others, and what felt like the overwhelming majority, the 40 game suspension Russell would be forced to serve was a slap on a wrist that didn’t mind taking one.
“I offer my heartfelt apology,” Russell said in his statement that made hardly a difference. “We don’t care,” the world silently but succinctly responded.
For the Cubs, the handlings of Russell’s actions drew the ire of the baseball community.
Their message was that Russell learned and was better for it. It simply came across as an excuse.
Unfortunately, Russell joined a group far larger than just himself. He was not the first or last player to receive the seemingly wrist-slappish handlings of something far more serious than the punishment makes it seem.
Jose Reyes still played ball, Roberto Osuna still throws pitches for the Astros and Jeurys Familia’s biggest roadblock to the diamond is his health, not his actions. The list doesn’t stop there.
So, when word came out that Julio Urias was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, the immediate hope was that the Dodgers handled the situation seriously. They will investigate, they will suspend in the interim but they simply may or may not ultimately make the decision to remove Urias from the roster pending the severity of the situation.
Yes, that says remove pending severity, however, yes, it may or may not happen.
These situations are the ultimate test of a team’s morals and standards when it comes out cleanly that a player is guilty.
The Astros put winning first when they acquired Osuna from the Blue Jays and their players did not hesitate to show their disappointment. Their choice to bring on someone who suspected of atrocious crimes was the ultimate sign of priority.
The Cubs put winning first when they allowed Addison Russell to walk back out onto the dirt of Wrigley Field.
The Mets chose to win with Reyes.
The Yankees chose to win with Aroldis Chapman.
If winning is the priority, then the handlings of such situations should be a reflection of that however repulsive that decision may be. To leave a player on the roster after he was convicted of sexual assault, domestic violence or domestic assault sends a rather undesirable message to the baseball community and the world: this team puts winning above all and there isn’t much a player can do to change that. It’s a highly permissive course of action.
More from Dodgers Way
- Ken Rosenthal column casts doubt on Dodgers spending big in free agency
- Dodgers’ Justin Verlander buzz suggests different kind of free agency aggression
- 5 Dodgers prospects that should undoubtedly be on 2023 roster
- Dodgers take ‘risk’ with 40-man roster additions before Rule 5 Draft
- Angels plunder Dodgers All-Star starter Tyler Anderson in surprise reversal
But, for a team that cares about its message not only to the community but to its younger fans, the options are limited to one and it is the far more noble path in this situation.
If a player is guilty of domestic violence, his career in that uniform needs to come to end. Not serve a suspension, not undergo therapy and learning to “become better” but complete removal from the roster.
Major League Baseball clubhouses need to be non-permissive environments, that’s the first step to getting there.
So in Urias’s case, if the findings of his investigation point towards guilty, the punishment should ultimately lead to one result: the departure of the young talent from the roster.
The Dodgers have shown in the past that they will not tolerate domestic violence and there should be no exception now.
The year was 2015. Winter was in full effect, the Dodgers and their staff were at the Winter Meetings then being hosted Nashville.
The Cincinnati Reds were coming off a 64-98 season, two losses shy of the century mark and miles from contention. Their plans for that winter reflected their standing and distance from the playoffs. The Reds were clearing house.
In their everything goes yard sale, the Dodgers had an opportunity to improve. One of the leagues most dominant pitchers would go up for sale and a Dodger bullpen that already featured Kenley Jansen would become unrivaled.
Aroldis Chapman was for sale.
The Dodgers did not hesitate. They made the trade.
Immediately it looked like the Dodgers came away with a steal. They sent just two prospects back to Cincinnati and Chapman was theirs. The one-two punch of Jansen and the newly acquired flame-thrower was a reality.
Then, in a blink of an eye, the deal was gone.
The Dodgers caught wind of reports that Chapman allegedly choked and slammed his girlfriend against a wall following a verbal altercation in their Miami-area home.
The Dodgers would never see Chapman walk from the home bullpen of Dodger Stadium. In that, their priorities were clear.
The decision to never let Chapman see the light of LA was clearly and entirely motivated by his actions. They were inappropriate and wrong. The Dodgers wanted no part in them even at the cost of significant improvement.
For Urias, there can be no double standard. Despite being the child of the team, despite being the organization’s phenom and prized possession and despite being their future, Andrew Friedman cannot blink in the event that he isn’t guilty.
Upon concluding the investigation, if the results are negative, the Dodgers will ultimately join a group. They will either choose morality and value actions over wins or they can choose to win, keeping Urias on the roster and facing those consequences.
Urias’s investigation is not over. The conclusion to this case is not yet know. However, even his investigation brings up an opportunity to look at how a guilty situation should be handled.
The Dodgers decisions could matter more than ever. They will send a message with this potential decision and reset the organization’s stance on a problem that is unacceptable. Unacceptable as it may be, will the Dodgers permiss it?