One of MLB’s biggest problems, and it spreads to other leagues as well, is the amount of buck-passing that seems to take place when there’s a serious issue. Whenever there’s someone like Mike Clevinger being investigated for domestic abuse or something else awful, a team is waiting for the league to act, and the league generally leaves it to the team. And nothing happens. We saw it originally with Trevor Bauer, which should have been easy for everyone. Bauer was still an active member of the team and Dave Roberts was going to send him out to pitch even after news of his alleged misconduct broke — [Editor’s note: Bauer has denied the allegations] before MLB stepped in, in a rare instance of the league coming to its senses. But much more often everyone just stares at each other and fans are left to deal with the player being omnipresent.
Clevinger is still under investigation by MLB for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy, which has gone on for some seven months. Clevinger has denied any wrongdoing and has asked that everyone “wait before they rush to judgment.” MLB dragging its feet to the degree of lighting their shoes on fire left the White Sox to do anything, which they declined because they assumed MLB would? It wasn’t clear. GM Rick Hahn addressed the media upon Clevinger’s arrival, and he certainly didn’t help much.
As reported in The Athletic:
“We’ve talked about ways to improve our background interviews,” said Hahn, who detailed a list of professional contacts the Sox typically speak to in their vetting process. “Some questions that perhaps would lead down other paths that weren’t asked. But again, I think it needs to be clear under the terms of this policy, there was no way for us to have known this information about an open investigation dating back to the middle of last season.”
In an ESPN article on Clevinger, White Sox GM Rick Hahn said the team’s “only option” was to allow the pitcher to come to camp while waiting for MLB to conclude its inquiry.
“It is solely the discretion of the commissioner to discipline a player at the conclusion of an investigation,” Hahn said. “[The] confidentiality element of the investigation is essential to the success and strength of the policy and one we’ll continue to respect.”
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It would seem to most that if you’re concerned about “maturity issues” for a player who is 32, and one that everyone knows was the jackwagon that violated COVID protocols two years ago and had his Cleveland teammates happily toss him under whatever bus they could find, you can probably just stamp a “PASS” on his portfolio and move on to someone else to fill out the bottom of your rotation. Hahn was stuck between claiming to not know about the investigation while also admitting that he knew Clevinger was a dolt, neither of which accomplishes whatever he set out to in his presser.
This all comes on the heels of when the Sox hired Tony La Russa two years ago to be the manager even though they knew, but we didn’t, that he had been arrested for a DUI for the second time before his hiring. (La Russa pled out to a reduced charge of reckless driving.) This time the Sox decided to pivot to just being stupid instead of intentionally ignorant, stubborn, and evil.
It definitely felt that the Sox never thought MLB would allow Clevinger to report to camp, and were left holding the bag when he did. They’re probably right in that while he’s under investigation the league shouldn’t have let him be anywhere where anyone can see him. But that doesn’t mean the Sox couldn’t, even if it meant a fight with the union. They could at least have had some sort of plan. Someone had to act, and no one did. Which gave Clevinger a bullhorn of his own, which he should never have.
So who wins out of this? The Sox don’t, because their fans have this piece of shit in spring training. The league doesn’t, because they look balloon-handed. The fans certainly don’t, because they have Clevinger on their team. Only Clevinger, who is the one guy who shouldn’t be winning, wins.
The Sox didn’t have a plan, because they didn’t think they needed one. Either they didn’t do their homework, or they did and thought no one would notice, or they were caught cold by MLB first by not knowing about the investigation and then by the league’s lack of action. Maybe you could excuse the first, but you can’t excuse the second. Being dumb isn’t an excuse for doing the wrong thing.