Domingo German Remains Out: A Look at the Process that Sidelined Him

As the Yankees regroup for Game 4 of the ALCS they will still be without the services of Domingo German. He remains on administrative leave while being investigated for an incident of domestic violence. Major League Baseball is investigating the issue and has not released additional details about the incident. A police report was not filed. It remains to be seen if one will be filed in the future. German is a 27 year-old right-handed starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. He had an impressive season, going 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 143 innings.

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MLB Policy on Domestic Violence

German was suspended under Major League Baseball’s policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. The League and the Union agreed on the policy in the Summer of 2015. Since that time, 14 players have been investigated under the policy. Earlier this season, Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera and Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias were both suspended for violations of the policy. Herrera was suspended 85 games and Urias was suspended 20 games. Domestic violence is an issue the League is still having to address on a regular basis. One of the goals under the policy is to enhance educational efforts as a way to help prevent these incidents from happening.

The Commissioner’s Office investigates all alleged incidents of wrongdoing. During this time, the Commissioner may place the player on paid administrative leave while the League investigates the incident fully. The Commissioner has the ultimate authority to impose discipline. There is no minimum or maximum suspension. Each case is evaluated specifically on its facts. However, the Commissioner’s decision is informed by a 7-member joint policy board. The board consists of, “three experts in the field and two representatives each from the MLBPA and the Commissioner’s Office . . . The board is responsible for developing a treatment plan.” Treatment plans are designed to rehabilitate the player. They may include counseling sessions and psychological evaluations, among other things. So what are the other major professional leagues’ policies on domestic violence? How would Domingo German have fared under another league’s policy?

NBA Policy on Domestic Violence

The NBA’s policy on domestic violence went into effect July 2017. It explicitly bans domestic violence of any kind and also the threat of violence. The policy gives the League the authority to conduct investigations. Players are expected to comply with any requests made by the league. During this time, a player may be placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. Decisions on punishment are ultimately Adam Sliver’s to make, but those decisions are informed by a “policy committee.” This committee is tasked with creating player specific treatment plans to aide in rehabilitation. Similar to MLB, the committee “consists of two persons from the NBA, two from the NBPA and three independent experts with expertise in domestic violence, sexual assault and/or child abuse.” The only two players suspended under the policy have been Willie Reed and Jabari Bird.

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NFL Policy on Domestic Violence

The NFL’s policy on domestic violence is a bit different from the schemes employed by the NBA and MLB. Teams are required to notify the League of any potential violations. In the absence of a criminal investigation, the League will conduct the investigation. During this time, a player may be placed on the “Commissioner’s Exempt List.” Once on the list, the player is still paid, but he is unable to play or practice until the NFL has completed its investigation. A player may be placed on the list if, “it appears a violation of the policy has occurred.”

If the League determines that a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy has occurred, then a baseline 6-game suspension without pay will be imposed. If there are “aggravating factors”, present the league may impose a harsher suspension. A second offense for any player will result in banishment from the League. The player has the option to appeal the suspension. His appeal will be heard by the Commissioner or his designee. Part of the process is a “expert panel hearing.” The panel consists of three outside experts. Their role is to make recommendations based on their expertise and experience in the field. This will better inform the Commissioner’s decision. Once a final decision is made, it is final and cannot be appealed further. The NFL has an ugly history of domestic violence and discipline in general. It seems they have finally started to give these incidents the attention they deserve.

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NHL Policy on Domestic Violence

Well, the NHL does not have a specific domestic violence policy. Instead, the league handles each occurence on a case-by-case basis. Any suspension or punishment is determined by the Commissioner. Many people are calling for the League to adopt a framework. They point to the recent cases of Slava Voynov and Austin Watson as prime examples. It remains to be seen if the League will adopt some sort of framework or policy in the future. For the time being, they will continue with mandatory domestic violence and sexual assault training prevention.

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German Remains Out

It is expected that Domingo German will be out for the remainder of the postseason, even if the Yankees make the World Series. These investigations take time and Leagues tend not to rush them. It also makes sense from a public relations standpoint for the League to wait until after the postseason to make any announcements that embroil the League in controversy. If German was in the NFL or NBA, he would have most likely been placed on paid administrative leave while the League conducted an investigation. Here, the incident seemed serious and warrants a through investigation. It is reasonable to place a player on paid leave during this time. If they have an issue, then they are free to appeal. Every league has realized the importance of handling these issues properly. They are conscious of the public relations nightmare a flawed investigation or improper punishment can be. Hopefully, Major League Baseball has learned from the mistakes of other Leagues. German too should hopefully learn from this experience and ideally never find himself in it again.

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