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Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Your Heroes Aren’t Always Heroes

Whether we realize it or not, sports – and the people that participate in them – are a huge part of our lives. From social gatherings to a way to temporarily escape reality, anybody that watches it even casually will have at least one or two people that they speak fondly of. It’s human nature for us to seek out people and deem them good or bad guys based on our feeling of how they align with our personal lives. When we see traits in these people that we like, or even see in ourselves, that’s when we make them these larger-than-life figures in our minds.

In this case, it’s Roberto Osuna, the star closer for our beloved Toronto Blue Jays; a young, soft spoken 23-year-old that happens to be really good at his job. Because of that, he was seen as one of the good ones. Hell, we applauded his bravery when last year when he was open about his battle with anxiety, something that a lot of us can relate to. Of course this comes as a shock, right? We know him!

Well…no.

The reality is, we picture these athletes as some superheroes despite knowing nothing about them outside of their perfectly manicured public image or social media feed. When the cameras go off, we don’t know who they are or what they’re like. The one thing that we do have in common is our love for the game. And sometimes, that’s where the similarities end. Time and time again, we’re stunned by an athlete’s transgressions, prompting us to once again remind ourselves “man, these guys really aren’t shit.”

Sure there are those that recognize the power they have in society and strive to do good and give back, but the overwhelming majority aren’t that. They don’t all care about being more than just somebody who plays a sport for a living or aim to be role models for anybody’s kids watching, they’re just regular people who happen to be extraordinary at throwing a ball or swinging a bat. And hey, that’s fine by me.

They’re human, just like us, and a lot of times, they aren’t deserving of the praise we put on them. I’m not telling you that it’s wrong that your son or daughter worships an athlete, but eventually they’ll learn that sometimes, your heroes aren’t heroes, just like we all have at some point. Sports will crush your soul in so many ways.

But trust me, this isn’t some baseless “I don’t believe Osuna did it” bullshit that people are shouting from the rooftops on social media. Yes, in a court of law, you’re innocent until proven guilty, but this isn’t a legal matter. MLB has the right to suspend him for however long they see fit, even if the incident doesn’t lead to charges (see: Jose Reyes). An investigation will take place by people trained to do so, not us. Until then, the Blue Jays and league were right to cancel the giveaway of his shirt and have him placed on administrative leave until this all clears up. The people jumping to defend him based on absolutely nothing are as bad as those that want him tar and feathered over speculation. Yeah the court of public opinion is a hell of a thing, but do you really want to be that person that rushes to the defense of somebody accused of doing something reprehensible only because you like how they do their job in a jersey you like?

As we grow old, we tend to stop idolizing these figures, but the idea of good and bad guys still remains. This is such a shitty situation and I feel for everybody involved. Eventually the truth will come to light, but it still serves as yet another reminder that the complete strangers we hold so near and dear to us definitely aren’t the people that we fantasize that they are.

  • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

    You know, I don’t advocate violence in any way. Don’t condone it, nothing, nadda, nope! However, I do believe in being innocent before proven guilty. Do we know what has happened? We weren’t there. Now, before anyone jumps all over me, I’m just saying, we have a process here and until things are proven, then lets give the guy the benefit of the doubt, or remain neutral. I don’t know, maybe he came around the corner and his girlfriend was kissing another guy. Does this give him free license to be violent? No, not in any way. But we’re all human, and for a second imagine something like that happening to you. What would you do? Now, again, I’m just throwing things out there. And if he’s proven guilty, man, he deserves everything that will happen to him. But until that time, let’s wait and see what happens. Should we turn a blind eye? No! Should we act like nothing happened? Definitely not! Should we try and be objective? ( I know, I know, nearly impossible) Yes we should…try. And wait and see what happens. Yesterdays Hero could be todays Villain…and vice-versa.

    • Barry

      But what do you consider “proven guilty”? The criminal court standard? Because that’s where the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” comes from, and it means we can’t consider OJ Simpson a murderer. The criminal court standard requires 100% proof, not the balance of evidence, which is the civil court standard and, in my opinion, the standard that we all should apply. The criminal court standard protects perpetrators whenever there is one person’s word against another, particularly in rape cases, but also in cases of domestic violence. It is excruciatingly difficult to get a conviction. But in civil court and everywhere else that matters, balance of evidence should apply.

      Do we have a lot of evidence right now? Admittedly, no. We know that his girlfriend has significant injuries and that the concierge at their building needed to call 9-1-1 to help her. That’s not a civil court to go on, but for us … well, I’m at least familiar enough with this sort of thing to know that it really never turns out to be anything benign. There will be no mistaken identity, there will be no viable self-defence claim. In our hearts, I think we know that this is about a man assaulting a woman and that there really is no valid defence for it. In our heads, too. I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think the evidence that comes to us down the road is going to make Osuna look like anything other than human garbage. We’ve seen this movie before. It doesn’t change. I’m not prepared to put my disgust with him on hold while I pretend he might not have done something awful. I would be lying to myself if I did that, and in lying to myself, I’d be doing a disservice to the victim, and to all victims, really.

      • Jeff2sayshi

        I’m still of the opinion good people can do bad things if buttons are pushed in certain way. And while that doesn’t excuse the behavior, circumstances need to be taken into account.

        Where that changes is when things become patterns and habitual and natural. If it gets to a point where it’s clear this is who the person is, and that it’s not a one time thing. And again, that doesn’t make the one time right. But perhaps labeling somebody as “human garbage” is going a couple steps too far.

        • Barry

          I will stand by my opinion that a man who beats up his girlfriend is human garbage. I don’t think he needs to do it a second time before I judge him harshly.

          I think this is a supportable position.

          • Jeff2sayshi

            You are entitled to your opinion. I just hope you hold yourself to the same standard if you ever do something stupid out of anger/drunkenness/anything else that happens in your life that throws you momentarily off kilter.

          • Jeff2sayshi

            To clarify: The standard was: “If I do something stupid/illegal and I ever hurt somebody I am human garbage.” NOT “I will not do something stupid/illegal and hurt someone.”

            Point being sometimes people should be given a chance to change before just pushed aside.

          • Barry

            Then for the sake of discussion, Jeff2sayshi, where do you draw the line? If someone murders a person, but it’s the first time they’ve ever murdered someone, do you say, “Well, sometimes good people do bad things, so let’s give this person a chance to change”? They might have been drunk, after all.

            There is a difference between murder and assault, of course … but that’s the point. Where is the line at which we say “once is too much”? It’s somewhere before murder, I think we can agree on that. For me, it’s also before you punch your girlfriend and throw her down a flight of stairs.

          • Jeff2sayshi

            For the purposes of giving a chance to change? That’s tough. I’m not arguing he doesn’t deserve discipline, I’m arguing that calling somebody “human garbage” after one act, regardless of how heinous might be going too far. Do I extend that to murder? No. Do I extend it to manslaughter, which is more heat of the moment, or the result of an awful decision? Maybe.

            But, please please please let me be clear. I am no way arguing that if somebody is found guilty of a crime which causes bodily harm to another (whether abuse/rape/murder), or even financial/psychological harm to another should be excused under this “giving a chance” philosophy. It’s more about not overreacting and how we react after a debt to society is paid.

            So, back to Osuna. If found guilty (whether by legal or MLB standards) he should have to serve whatever sentence given (again, whether by legal or MLB standards). That shouldn’t preclude him from getting a chance after to show he’s learned something. If after that point he does that same thing again, it’s a different discussion as he’s starting to display a pattern.

      • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

        Curious where are you getting your info. Ive not read any details regarding what happened. If it’s as you say then hell ya throw the book at him!!!

  • Barry

    As for the article itself … This is why I never get a jersey with a player’s name on the back. Players who seem like the greatest guys on earth can disappoint you, and I couldn’t wear a jersey of a player who beat his spouse, or did something else unspeakable. I loved Jose Reyes when he was a Jay — he’s someone whose jersey I might have worn … but holy hell, would I have regretted that.

  • Flash McLennan

    “MLB has the right to suspend him for however long they see fit, even if the incident doesn’t lead to charges (see: Jose Reyes). An investigation will take place by people trained to do so, not us.”

    MLB’s right to suspend him is because that’s what the league and player’s union agreed to. The owners wanted that for a host of reasons, mostly because they’re in the entertainment business and a morals clause lets them avoid the spectacle of having to trot someone in Osuna’s situation out to the mound before it’s resolved.
    But there isn’t some overarching right of private employers to suspend or fire employees simply for being charged with, but not convicted of, a crime. Something to keep in mind when all we non-lawyers get into what standards of proof we personally enjoy the most.

    As for who is trained to investigate this: umm, that’s the police. MLB’s Kangaroo Kops preparing evidence for their Kangaroo Kourt Kase really ought to be besides the point.

    • Barry

      Strictly speaking, an employer can fire any employee for any reason, or for no reason. The only question is whether the firing is “with cause.” When it’s not with cause, there needs to be notification, severance, etc. Beating up your girlfriend might not be “with cause” unless it is related to your work, but it would be “with cause” if domestic abuse were included in a code-of-conduct clause in your employment agreement — and, in fact, more companies are including such clauses. MLB and the MLBPA are one recent example.

      But if a boss simply wants to terminate someone, any boss can do that. It can be for beating up your girlfriend, or it can be because the company can’t afford to keep you, or because someone simply doesn’t like you. The way in which you’re fired would be the only variable.

      • Flash McLennan

        No. Even if you’re “at will” you’ll walk out with a nice package if there’s no work-related cause and they think you might litigate. Employment law is infinitely more complicated than “bosses fire whomever they please.”

    • GrumblePup

      Um… calling them “Kangaroo Kops” is pretty much completely ignoring the entire purpose of the leagues domestic violence policy. The leagues domestic violence policy and investigation board was created by and is made up of experts in the field as well as representatives from the MLBPA and the Commissioners office.

      So yes, while there are “non-lawyers” and “non-experts” involved, they are working alongside people who are qualified to deal with these sorts of things.

      You may be right, that in general terms, there is not an overarching right of private employers to suspend or fire employees for being charged with a crime. I don’t know the law.

      However, I do know that almost every job I have applied for has done a criminal background check, and they reserve the right to not hire you if they see reason to do so.

      I also know that I have signed many contracts where part of the stipulation of being employed and remaining employed is to not get arrested.

      With that information in mind, try to remember that the MLB now has a domestic violency policy in place. This policy applies to every major and minor league player. In this policy, they reserve the right, based on their investigation (that has been conducted alongside people who are qualified in the field), to intervene as they see fit.

      “In addition, the Commissioner’s Office will implement additional policies to cover Minor League players, all employees of Major or Minor League clubs and MLB. The MLBPA will also implement an all-encompassing domestic policy for its staff.

      The agreement is intended to provide a comprehensive policy addressing issues such as protecting the legal rights of players, treating violations seriously, holding players accountable through appropriate disciplinary measures and providing resources for the intervention and care of victims, families and the players themselves.

      The terms of the agreement cover four main areas.

      Treatment and Intervention:
      A joint policy board, consisting of three experts in the field and two representatives each from the MLBPA and the Commissioner’s Office has been established. The board is responsible for developing a treatment plan.

      Players may be required to submit to psychological evaluations, attend counseling sessions, comply with court orders (including child support orders), relocate from a home shared with his partner, limit his interactions with his partner, relinquish all weapons, and other reasonable directives designed to promote the safety of the player’s partner, children, or victims.

      Players who fail to comply are subject to discipline from the Commissioner. All information is to be kept confidential.

      Investigations:
      The Commissisoner’s Office will invesigate all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse involving members of the baseball community. The Commissioner may place an accused player on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while allegations are investigated. Players may challenge any decision before the arbitration panel.

      Discipline:
      The Commissioner will decide on appropriate discipline, with no minimum or maximum penalty under the policy. Players may challenge such decisions to the arbitration panel.

      Training, Education and Resources:
      All players will be provided education about domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in both English and Spanish at regular intervals. Resources to players’ families — including referral information, websites, hotline numbers and outreach facilities — will be made available, along with a confidential 24-hour helpline.”

      Source: (http://riveraveblues.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Domestic-Violence-Policy.pdf) but you can also find it other places if you care to look as well.

      Do you see the part in the policy where it explicitly says that “The Commission will decide on appropriate discipline, with no minimum or maximum penalty under the policy.”?

      And remember how the investigation is conducted with advice and oversight by people qualified to conduct such investigations?
      Yeah, it’s not just some random bunch of dudes playing at being Encyclopedia Brown and handing out schoolyard punishments.

      • Flash McLennan

        Did you, uh, see the part where I explicitly said that the right to suspend/ terminate existed in the collective agreement. Like, before you cut and pasted the whole thing?

        As for the quality of the MLB investigation: no idea man, but it’s not the police. Private entities substituting their own justice for that of the open courts is a slippery slope. See Title IX, US post-secondary, sexual assault, nightmare as it relates to due process for victims and alleged perpetrators alike.

        • GrumblePup

          Yes, I did see that part of your post.
          And yes, I did copy and paste the domestic violence policy press release, because it seems to me, that a vast majority of the people discussing this have not only, not looked into it themselves, but also have no idea what the policy involves. I feel that it is important that people are aware of it and read it if they are going to be a part of this conversation.

          The intent of posting it was not to be directed solely at you, it is for anyone who cares to join in this conversation.
          But the fact that you treated it like some wishy-washy “we do what we feel” policy headed by Kangaroo Kops for their Kangaroo Kourt Kase seems to me that you may not have read it, or looked at it.

          Regardless of whether or not you had previously seen the press release about the policy, your attitude towards it gives an inaccurate representation of it.

          • Flash McLennan

            Fair enough, it DOES seem like a very detailed policy, and it is interesting to see what’s in it. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on the quality of the investigations, or at least that we don’t know. I’ll say honestly that I don’t, but I generally have a pretty negative reaction to private investigations by private entities (in this case, MLB.) They tend to be interested parties themselves. With respect to the courts, I believe the actors are more likely to have society’s broader interests at heart, and even if not, at least it’s out in the open and we can all judge.

        • RichW

          Osuna has explicitly consented to this form of investigation by signing a Major League Contract that is governed by the CBA. There is no slippery slope. Canadian justice will be meted out and MLB discipline will be applied as it has to other players.

          • Flash McLennan

            The “hey you agreed to the MLB contract man” argument sort of falls apart given the monopolistic nature of the market for baseball employment. Strip the antitrust exemption and I’d agree with you.

            Interesting point on the Artificial Turf Wars pod that apparently morals clauses aren’t even permitted in employment contracts in Ontario. That school of thought suggests that if Osuna were to challenge the CBA it might be struck down. Would it? I have no idea. Would he? Hard to imagine.

            My point, all of my points: this is all so much, much more complicated than most people are willing to acknowledge.