Larry Baer has been suspended from the Giants until July 1, and a year of loss, change and uncertainty plunges deeper.
Permanent departures from icons Peter Magowan and Willie McCovey rocked the soul of Giants fans everywhere. Bruce Bochy’s announced retirement caused ripples of nostalgia already. An endless rotating door of roster moves leaves fans unsure as to the direction of the team.
And now Baer, the most visible face of the team since the 1992 purchase by the local group, has been banished for three-plus months, leaving the team in its most obvious state of disarray since — well, since the proposed sale of the team in 1992 to the Tampa investors?
Let’s be clear, though. MLB did the right thing in suspending Baer for his publicly videotaped altercation with his wife, Pam.
Most everyone who looks at the video sees something through his or her own prism. Believe me, the text line has been a mosaic of differing takes that prove the old adage “there is nothing less reliable than an eyewitness.” One highfalutin texter even compared the whole reaction to the Kurosawa film “Rashoman”, in which the same incident is presented differently by every observer.
But unless Kurosawa can provide power from the right side, we should probably move on from any more Japanese film allusions. It’s a Jock Blog, after all.
At any rate, while I am uncomfortable speculating on the nature of Larry and Pam Baer’s dispute, and while I am uncomfortable speculating on the nature of their long marriage and family, and while I am aware that Pam issued a statement saying she suffered no injury and that she and Larry “remain happily married”, we are living in a time where domestic violence — or things close to it — cannot be swept under the rug.
Whether or not you think Larry committed an act of domestic violence, or an act of aggression against a woman, there was enough there — a struggle, a toppling of a chair — to justify MLB’s action to suspend Baer.
All of us would be wise to take something productive out of the incident, to reassess what we see as acceptable behavior in a domestic argument, to learn to walk away before any physical contact is made. None of us is perfect. None of us is without transgression. But if the Baer incident can do anything, it can raise our awareness as to how we should aspire to behave.
And that’s why Baer had to pay some sort of price. He could not skate away with his first, tepid statement, in which he did not express contrition or apology. He needs to feel a consequence, especially given his role, as MLB accurately stated, as a leader in the organization and community.
He did not deserve to lose his job. There is room in society for acknowledgment of ills, and for restoration through work and self-reflection. Also, through getting out in the community and seeing how domestic violence plays a real role in our society today.
Baer can do that in his time off. He has pledged to. The Giants have pledged to make sure he does.
This is probably the most acceptable outcome of a deeply awkward and unpleasant incident.
It’s another hurdle, probably the biggest, in this year of unease.