The Mets are considering bringing back onetime phenom José Reyes. Reyes, 33, was arrested in October 2015 and charged with abuse of a family and/or household member after police said he grabbed his wife, Katherine Ramirez, by her throat and shoved her into a sliding-glass door during an argument in a Maui hotel room; Ramirez ended up in an emergency room for injuries to her neck, wrist, and thigh. Charges were eventually dropped after Ramirez declined to cooperate with investigators. Reyes served a 51-game suspension, which concluded last month, and he was then jettisoned by the Rockies, who ate roughly $39 million to designate him for assignment last week. Now the Mets, who are desperate for infield help, are reportedly contemplating taking him back.
And, well, that sucks.
It sucks that perpetrators of domestic violence often go unpunished. It sucks when those abusers are talented in a way that incentivizes people to look the other way, to say that boys will be boys, to contend that sometimes things just get out of hand. It sucks that our justice system so often fails to protect victims.
It really sucks that — after Milton Bradley and Floyd Mayweather and Ray Rice and Greg Hardy and too many others to count — we still haven’t figured out how to effectively punish violence when it is propagated by famous athletes. Reyes was one of the first players to be suspended under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy, which empowers commissioner Rob Manfred to issue punishments for off-field incidents even when there is no conviction, as in Reyes’s case. And it’s good that MLB is taking steps to deal with this issue more seriously. Then-Reds (and now Yankees) pitcher Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game suspension under the new policy; the Braves’ Hector Olivera got 82 games.
It sucks that, when there is no conviction, it becomes a sports league’s job to determine how the number of cuts, bruises, or bullets translates to the number of games missed. (MLB carried out its own investigation, and concluded, in the words of Manfred, that Reyes “violated the Policy.”) And it sucks that it falls to a team to decide whether a player has been sufficiently punished, has sufficiently repented, or has sufficiently proved he is no longer a danger to people around him.
It sucks that past domestic violence accusations are referred to as “baggage,” as though they are just some unfortunate encumbrance to be dealt with. It sucks that we talk about hurdles and struggles and policies when we mean one person grabbing another by her throat.
The Mets may ultimately decide against signing Reyes, but still: It sucks that we keep having this conversation, and that no one seems to have a solution.