Point of View: The punishment should fit the crime


After smashing a soaring home run into left field to put the Astros up 1-0 in the third game of the MLB World Series last Friday, Houston first baseman Yuli Gurriel returned to the dugout and made a racist gesture, seemingly mocking Yu Darvish, a Japanese-born pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, off of whom he had just hit a homer.

Television cameras caught Gurriel using “his fingers to slant his eyes in a gesture that is offensive to people of Asian descent and mouthed a derogatory word in Spanish,” according to ESPN.

When asked about the incident after the game, Gurriel said, “I didn’t know he was going to feel that offended. I feel bad and apologize if he got offended over there. It was not my intention,” according to “Sports Illustrated.”

The next day, Major League Baseball determined that Gurriel would receive a five-game suspension for his actions. The disappointing part: those five games will occur next season.

So, Gurriel, who has led his team in hitting in the last 30 games, continued to play for the Astros in the World Series and will face the repercussions of his actions five months from now.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred justified his questionable decision, by stating the suspension should come with a penalty of lost salary, which, due to the method in which players are paid in the World Series, would not be applicable if Gurriel was suspended now.

Manfred said that it would be “unfair to punish the other 24 players on the Astros roster.” He also displayed that Darvish, who expressed his desire to “move forward,” had influence on his decision.

The MLB should have forced Gurriel, who acted extremely insensitively, to face the repercussions of his actions immediately. Although most of Manfred’s reasoning is legitimate, there was by all means many more options to punish Gurriel.

If Gurriel was suspended for Game 4 of the World Series, the magnitude of his loss for just one game would be insurmountable to that of the first five games of next season. The Astros were ahead going into Game 4, in which Gurriel did not even get a hit, so his absence could not have definitively eliminated them from a championship win.

The MLB could have required Gurriel to pay a fine equal to what he will have to forfeit from his salary next year. Of course, his teammates would feel the repercussions of his loss in a game they ended up losing, but the fallout of Gurriel’s absence in one game is not worse than racist gestures and comments.

As someone who looks forward to the World Series every year — regardless of whether the team I root for during the regular season is in the running or not — I am ashamed to see the MLB place the amusement and entertainment of the competition, something that could be thrown off if the Astros lost one of their most crucial players, over the discipline of their athletes.