MLB has a power no other entity, including the President, enjoys. They “investigate” and police themselves – and they get away with it…
By whose authority does Major League Baseball (MLB) have the right, and more significantly, the staff, the investigative tools, and expertise to conduct probes into cases of domestic violence – together with the power to levy fines and suspensions?
You can Google for hours as I did in an attempt to find information about MLB’s investigative staff, their procedures, and practices – and you’ll come up blank.
Except, that is, to learn former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Seeley leads their investigations unit. Seeley’s area of expertise was as a senior trial lawyer in the Washington, D.C. Fraud and Public Corruption Section.
The unit was established in 2014 by then-Commissioner Bud Selig to comply with a recommendation of the Mitchell Report as a response to the war raging around steroids and drug usage.
Does MLB equate steroids with domestic violence?
All well and good, except that domestic violence incidents are not the same as a cut-and-dry blood test that reveals the usage of an illegal substance.
In most domestic violence cases, it’s a he-said-she-said situation with lots of room for interpretation and scientific investigation practice.
And so, I’ve been wondering if either Domingo German or his girlfriend and mother of their children, Mara Vega, have a chance of gaining justice per American laws and our system of justice?
Is MLB the prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury all wrapped up in one?
Recall that the incident began in cloudy circumstances during a celebration honoring retiring Yankee CC Sabathia. At some point, German slapped Ms. Vega, and according to a report by New York Times writer Bob Klapisch, the incident was witnessed by a person on the staff of MLB.
The chances are good that “person” is Joe Torre, who has the weighty title of Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations, and whose ties to the Yankees and Sabathia remain tight.
MLB “handles” a problem
In any case, what ensues is upsetting from the standpoint that any adult living in the United States would know that a battery and probable assault has taken place, and that is a violation of our penal code subject to the arrest and prosecution of the individual responsible.
Not in this case, however, and that “person” had German whisked away to God knows where. The following morning, still no police report has been filed, and the parties involved gather at Yankee Stadium to “discuss” a course of action.
The rest, of course, is history, and the fate of German and Mara Vega remains in the hands of MLB.
No one can take guesses at the outcome since MLB is more tight-lipped than the NYPD – and “punishment” of German has no parameters.
Unlike sentence guidelines applied to all civil and criminal laws, German, in theory, can receive anything from a lifetime ban from baseball to time-served under his suspension last year.
The issue in another context
Let me put the problem another way with this illustration. If you or I witnessed the same incident on a subway in New York, would we rush up to the man to ask him where he was employed – so his employer would have first chance to discipline him?
I don’t believe so. Domingo German should have been arrested on the spot, taken to the local precinct, printed and booked – and then released on his recognizance, just as you or I would be in a similar circumstance.
From that point, the next day’s meeting at Yankee Stadium is entirely appropriate, and MLB has every right to pursue the case from the standpoint of internal disciplinary action against German if warranted.
Instead, where (in the process as we know it today) is the victim – Mara Vega? Can MLB be trusted to protect her rights and interests? Not to mention the welfare of the children.
We can’t go back – only forward
The relationship between German and Vega is their business, not mine or ours. And to be fair, there are reports indicating the reason why MLB’s investigation has not concluded is that German has entered a rehab facility.
However, I cannot find a source to confirm that.
I am not a lawyer or a police officer charged with enforcing our laws. I am only a fan of baseball and a writer who sees a wrong and wishes to see it corrected.
ALL domestic violence cases belong in the hands of law enforcement and eventual adjudication within our judicial system – and not in the hands of MLB or any other third party.
A wrong was done from the get-go when that “person” who witnessed that slap in the face did not (immediately!) take out his cell phone to call the police. What’s done is done, but this should never happen again…