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Gee, ya think?

OK everybody: Raise your hand if you thought of George Brett the second Josh Bard raced out of the dugout to protest the changing of his home run into a ground-rule double Thursday night. Now, raise your other hand if you were laughing at the time.

OK, now put your hands down. Simon says put your hands down.

Look, with Bard’s career high in homers standing at nine, I understand the man’s frustration at losing the long ball. With that dinger, Bard would’ve put himself on pace for six bombs this season, instead of just three. So yeah, I can see where he’d be pissed. Being a catcher and not knowing the ground rules is embarrassing too, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Whatever. Bard’s overreacting, and for that matter, his overacting, was really, really, really stupid. He’s lucky to have gotten off with just a three-game suspension for bumping umpired Ed Rapuano, courtesy of baseball suspension czar Bob Watson.

Not that the baseball suspension process makes a lot of sense. This has been bugging me for years.

A player can get himself suspended for a variety of reasons, from fighting to making contact with an umpire, and serve his suspension pretty much whenever he damn well pleases. I’m not knocking Bard and the Padres for taking advantage of the gaping loophole in the rules, but Bard will no doubt drop his appeal at the exact time of his next nagging injury, when he needs a couple of days off anyway. Or until right after catching a long extra-inning game. One of those two.

Look, due process is all well and good, but this idea that a suspended player must wait until his club is in the vicinity of Major League Baseball’s New York offices to have his case heard in person is incredibly lame. Don’t these guys have video phones lying around someplace? Or, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, maybe the players union, also headquartered in New York, could send over a representative. An intern, even. It’s not that complicated, and Bard has no defense. The mistaken identity defense rarely works in baseball.

And God forbid; Bard takes a run up to New York from Washington on his day off Monday to state his case. Nope, it’s got to convenient for the suspended player, like say, when the Padres visit the Mets in August.

Lastly, let me just say this: I knew George Brett. George Brett was a friend of mine. And you, Mr. Bard, are no George Brett.

— HOWARD COLE

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