BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred and chief baseball officer Joe Torre said Thursday that the league's new domestic violence policy has been effective in its first year and stressed the importance of focusing on the educational component moreso than the actual discipline.Manfred was among those who participated in
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred and chief baseball officer Joe Torre said Thursday that the league's new domestic violence policy has been effective in its first year and stressed the importance of focusing on the educational component moreso than the actual discipline.
Manfred was among those who participated in the annual Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation Golf and Tennis Classic at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, where about $500,000 was raised to benefit the cause that Torre and his wife, Ali, began in 2002 to help children -- more than 50,000 so far -- who are profoundly affected by domestic violence.
The policy that MLB and the MLB Players Association negotiated dovetailed with the leadership position Torre already had a natural stake in this matter, so this was a focal point for overall evaluation.
"It's a great cause," Manfred said of the outing after hitting a ceremonial first tee shot along with former heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney and D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa. "Joe's involvement in the domestic violence issue has been a tremendous asset to baseball and a big part of the education that had to go on in Major League Baseball before we negotiated our policy. I know the policy is better as a result of the process that Joe led us through.
"Having a policy that players buy into makes it much easier for us to deal with those infrequent situations where we have a player involved with an issue like this. ... I think the feedback has generally been positive. I think that people appreciate the fact that we tried to get in front of the issue by negotiating a policy before we really needed it, and I think the players accepting their punishment under the collectively bargained policy is a real positive."
Manfred called this "a society where people believe in second chances. I know that Jose [Reyes] committed himself to the educational and counseling component of his discipline, and we're really hopeful that he will resume his career in a positive way. ... I think the policy, particularly the educational component of the policy, will help avoid issues like this. I'm never one to say it's never going to happen again, but I do think the education is really important and useful."
Said Torre of Aroldis Chapman and Reyes: "They're let back on the field because they did serve their [suspensions]. It's something that you never like to see happen, but if things do happen, you want to see them recognized and have people understand it's not the right way to act. Discipline's important, but not repeating it is especially important.
"I'm very proud of MLB and also the Players Association, because they work in conjunction with each other. ... To me, an important component that doesn't get talked about enough, I think everybody, when somebody does something wrong, we want to know, 'What's the discipline?' But there's an educational piece, too."
Torre continues to provide the firsthand experience from his childhood. More than 21,000 children have received counseling as part of Safe at Home and its 13 Margaret's Place sites -- named for Torre's mother -- in the New York and Los Angeles metro areas. They hope to open the first Margaret's Place in Staten Island, the only New York borough without one.
"It's a subject that's uncomfortable for people," Torre said. "I can just speak from what my feelings were as a kid growing up in a house where my dad abused my mom. As the youngest of five, my older siblings were trying to protect me from it, and they were doing a lot of whispering. When you hear whispering, you say, 'Oh, I must have done something wrong.' You were embarrassed by what was going on in the house. Even though I never saw my dad hit my mom, you did hear him throw dishes against the wall if he didn't like what she put on the table for lunch or dinner.
"He was a New York City policeman and I did witness when he went for his revolver in the drawer to threaten my mom and my older sister. He created a lot of fear in the house, and I never really connected the dots until later in my life that it is what was causing these feelings of nervousness and low self-esteem, which I thought I was born with. I realized through the counseling that we went through that the fear he created was what was causing that. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, I wanted to share it, because there are so many other kids out there who feel they are doing something wrong and that they are why their parents aren't getting along."
This golf outing was the latest method of "shouting from the rooftops." Attendees also included such luminaries as Willie Randolph, Rusty Staub, Michael Bolton, Sparky Lyle, John Franco, Gene Michael, Kris Benson, Rick Cerone and Ari Fleischer. Visit joetorre.org for more information.
"You can't do too much of this because there are too many kids out there who may be going in the wrong direction just following a strong personality," Torre said. "We give them their self-esteem, we give them tools to deal with what's going on in their lives, and we let them know they are going to come out the other end of this thing."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.