The recent suspension of Yankees pitcher AJ Burnett really makes me question the way the league is being policed. In a game between the Yankees and Rangers, Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla hit Mark Teixeira 2 at bats in a row, with what appeared to be clear intention. Teixeira took exception to this because he feels it has become a personal thing between he and Padilla, with Padilla constantly seeming to throw at him. The announcers discussed how Padilla was known for throwing at guys a lot, and that this had earned him a bad reputation not only in the league, but also with his teammates. After he hit Teixeira the second time, the umpire did not proceed to warn both teams, so it was pretty clear he was going to let the Yankees retaliate and then be done with it.
Sure enough, in the next inning, Burnett retaliated by throwing way up and in at Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. This is where I get confused. Following the pitch, the umpire warned both teams, and did not throw Burnett out. Even though a warning had not been issued before, I would understand if the umpire had thrown Burnett out since he threw up near the head of Cruz, which is obviously extremely dangerous. However, the warning was given and Burnett was allowed to remain in the game. This appeared to be a simple one and done retaliation, and no harm no foul. However, commissioner Selig then proceeded to slap Burnett with a 6 game suspension, which would mean he would miss his next start. I don’t get this at all, just like I don’t get it when it happens in basketball, especially in the playoffs. If a player is not punished or ejected for the act during the game, why does the commissioner feel the need to suspend the player after the game. If the umpire or the referee thought the act to be acceptable during the heat of the game, what changes it after the game? The ‘policing’ of the sport should be left to the umpires. If they eject a player during a game for an act like throwing at someone’s head, then by all means commissioner, hit him with a suspension. I think that both in basketball and baseball, the commissioners are so worried about avoiding any situation that might be deemed violent, that they change the way the game is normally played through unjust suspensions. All I’m saying is that umpires and referees are there for a reason, and if you can’t trust them to run the game themselves, you will inevitably change the way the players play due to fear of subjective punishment.