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Commissioner Manfred pregame interview

October 28, 2017

COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Good afternoon, everybody. Let me begin with what I regard to be the most important point that I'm going to make today: There is complete unanimity -- me, my office, both owners, both clubs and the MLBPA -- that there is no place in our game for the

COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Good afternoon, everybody. Let me begin with what I regard to be the most important point that I'm going to make today: There is complete unanimity -- me, my office, both owners, both clubs and the MLBPA -- that there is no place in our game for the behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night. There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable.
Mr. Gurriel, to his credit, quickly realized last night that his behavior was wrong. He expressed remorse. I met with him today. He reiterated that remorse and he has assured me that he will be offering a private apology to Mr. Darvish.
• Gurriel suspended for first 5 games in 2018
Let me say a word with Yu: He has handled this entire difficult situation in an exemplary way. Especially noteworthy is his expressed view that we should all use this negative incident as an opportunity for learning and deeper understanding. Notwithstanding Mr. Gurriel's remorse, there needs to be disciplinary consequences to make clear that Major League Baseball is an institution that will not tolerate behavior of this type.

Unfortunately, we have precedent in this area. It's not our first incident. But my view is that that precedent is not adequate to deal with the current situation. I've decided to go beyond that precedent as a statement of our disapproval of this behavior:
Mr. Gurriel will be suspended for five games without pay. During the offseason he will be required to undergo sensitivity training, and the Houston Astros in a gesture of support, have agreed to donate the foregone salary to charitable causes.
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The suspension will be served at the beginning of the 2018 season. I've decided on that timing really for four reasons: First of all, I felt it was important that the suspension carry with it the penalty of lost salary.
Secondly, I felt it was unfair to punish the other 24 players on the Astros roster. I wanted the burden of this discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer.
Third, I was impressed in my conversation with Yu Darvish by his desire to move forward, and I felt that moving the suspension to the beginning of the season would help in that regard.
Last, when I originally began thinking about the discipline, I thought that delaying the suspension would allow the player the opportunity to exercise his rights under the grievance procedure. It now appears, and I have every expectation, that he will not be exercising those rights.
Q. Notwithstanding the four points you just made, there will be a lot of people saying that this is the biggest stage, this is when baseball can make their biggest statement, and baseball has chosen to let the Astros compete most competitively as opposed to making the statement now. What do you feel about sentiments like that?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Well, look, there is no question that it is a difficult decision, as to when the appropriate timing was. Obviously World Series games are different than regular-season games. And I used my best judgment as to where the appropriate disciplinary level fell.
Q. When you spoke to Yuli, we didn't really get a full explanation of his understanding of what the gesture meant, in any context. Just wondering if the suspension was for that plus the word? Is it the whole package? Did you get the understanding from him that he understands how that is offensive?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Let me say two things: I believe based on my conversation that he understood that both the language and the gesture were offensive. He maintains that he did not intend to be offensive, but he understands that it was. And that's what's important.
I also hope that we don't overlook the training aspect of the discipline involved here. I think it is important. I think that we all, all need continuing reminders and education in this area as to what's appropriate and not appropriate. And I do feel it's an important part of the entire package.
Q. You opened your remarks by saying that there was unanimous support for your decision. Can you, without giving me every single name, was it just the Astros and Dodgers and the Players Association, or were the other owners involved? Can you close in on that?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: What I actually said was there was unanimous support for the broader proposition that there was no place for this type of behavior in our game. Within the last 24 hours the group that I spoke to would include the two owners here, Mr. Crane and Mr. Walter, a number members of both front offices, representatives of the MLBPA, and of course all sorts of Commissioner's office staff.
But I have absolutely no doubt that if I spoke to all 30 owners, I would get unanimous support for that view.
Q. What were the discussions like with the union, and how difficult would it have been practically to suspend him during the World Series, knowing that they probably would have challenged it, probably certainly would have challenged it?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Well, I'm not going to characterize the conversations with the union beyond the notion that the union was supportive of the general proposition that this behavior, this type of behavior, was not appropriate in our game. The details of those conversations I'm not going to go into.
Look, I think that the now or later decision, I've done the best I can for you in terms of what my thinking was on that topic. And I understand that people may have different views. But it was my best judgment that this timing was appropriate.
Q. You said there was no place in this game for this sort of act, you're still going with the Chief Wahoo with the Indians. How do you juxtapose those two? And how do you feel, when you make such a strong statement and strong words that that logo is still out there?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Look, I see a difference between behavior from one player directed specifically at a player and a logo. While both are problematic, I don't see them as the same issue. We continue to have conversations with the Indians about the logo, and it's an issue I intend to deal with in the offseason.
Q. Do you view in your mind five games now as the standard replacing the two, or is this a baseline that you see further escalation if additional behavior happens?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Look, I think that the two, that was kind of the standard that had evolved over three or four incidents was inadequate to deal with the particulars of this situation. And I will continue to deal with each situation on its own merits.
Q. If Yu Darvish had said last night that he was deeply offended and wanted some action, how big of a part did his role play in your decision?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: You know, it was a factor. Again, I want to reiterate that he handled this in probably as classy a way as a player could possibly handle something as negative as this. It was a factor but not a driving one, let me say it that way.