It’s not just football.
On Monday, news broke that Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was arrested on Halloween for allegedly assaulting his wife while on vacation in Hawaii. According to reports, Reyes, 32, grabbed his wife by the throat and shoved her into a sliding glass door in their hotel room. He was arrested and released on bail while his wife, Katherine Ramirez, was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center to treat injuries to her neck, wrist and thigh.
The Reyes news comes during yet another dark time for professional athletes and domestic violence. Last week, graphic police photos depicting Greg Hardy’s abuse of his ex-girlfriend were made public, bringing the issue of violence – and the NFL’s response to it – back into the news cycle.
But now here is Reyes, a baseball player, proving that domestic violence allegations are not just a football thing. It’s also not just a sports thing, either. Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic violence hotlines take up to 20,000 calls each day, but a small percentage of the estimated 1.3 million cases of female abuse each year involve professional athletes.
To date, the NFL has produced the most cases of domestic abuse that we’ve heard of. We all know about Hardy and his ex, Nicole Holder. We’ve all seen the video of Ray Rice knocking out his future wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The NFL has taken well-deserved licks for being slow to respond to what many see as a growing problem with the sport: Just this year, according to the exhaustive USA Today database that tracks this stuff, there have been six players arrested for domestic violence that have not gotten the media attention that Hardy has received.
For more than 25 years, Major League Baseball did not punish a single player for domestic violence. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening. In 1995, Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox was arrested after allegedly punching his wife. Former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch was arrested for allegedly assaulting his ex-wife last summer. Kirby Puckett was accused of strangling his wife with an extension cord. Phillies pitcher Brett Myers was never suspended after he allegedly beat his wife up in front of a crowd, and the list goes on and on.
Facing rising pressure to craft stronger rules, Major League Baseball announced its own policy to combat domestic violence in August.
Under the new policy, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred now has the power to unilaterally suspend players and investigate incidents of domestic violence. In addition to supplementary discipline, the baseball punishment policy also includes mandatory counseling and psychological evaluation for players involved in these types of incidents.
Reyes is the first ballplayer accused of domestic abuse since the policy was enacted.
“We were extremely disappointed and concerned to learn of the allegations involving Jose Reyes,” the Rockies said in a statement. “We continue to gather information and will address this matter appropriately, in accordance with Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.”
The investigation into what happened in Reyes’s hotel room has already started.
“Major League Baseball understands the seriousness of the issues surrounding domestic violence, and our policy explicitly recognizes the harm resulting from these acts,” MLB said in a statement. “Any action taken by the commissioner’s office in this matter will be wholly in accordance with this policy.”
It’s not just football. Now baseball is at the plate. Hopefully MLB won’t swing and miss in its first test.