There’s no arguing that Roberto Osuna is a talented baseball player.
Written by David King
At 2o years of age, Roberto Osuna emerged one day out of the SkyDome bullpen, and from that day on until May of this year, the young man was one of the best closers in baseball.
There’s also no arguing it’s a complicated story. On Monday, the Blue Jays decided to wash their proverbial hands off, and say goodbye to a pitcher who is now positioned to win a World Series this year with the Houston Astros, the defending champions.
Until Monday afternoon, the Astros had a “zero-tolerance” policy against domestic violence offenders, for which Osuna is being charged in Toronto courts, and the next leg of his case could be heard on Wednesday. The “could” refers to the legal stickhandling, for which you can’t blame Osuna’s lawyers, who are still pleading innocent to the charges.
These are probably well-paid lawyers doing their job, since details of the assault have not been made public but the story that leaked has the pitcher assaulting his pregnant girlfriend. Of course Canadian courts don’t move swiftly with this stuff but Major League Baseball and their investigators saw the situation fit to assess an immediate suspension to the pitcher upon receiving charges. He’s now served his 75 game suspension at a cost of $2.5 million dollars.
Osuna served his time in the court of baseball and he’ll probably avoid serving any time in a jail too, but that isn’t the point. Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said throughout the suspension that they were doing everything the team could to support Osuna by not shopping him in any trades. If Jays fans know anything, it’s that they shouldn’t believe the current regime.
Raising more questions about this move made by management, the deal brought back two Jays players from Houston with major baggage. Ken Giles, a pitcher who’s got a great video of him punching himself after a save gone bad, and David Paulino, who recently served an 80-game suspension for steroid use.
Maybe, the Jays are simply washing their hands of a tough situation regarding a kid the country came to love during some amazing playoff runs, or maybe they’re trying to send a message that they are pursuing a zero-tolerance policy on domestic abuse too. Either way, they aren’t getting any equivalent talent back.
As a fan, I long for the days when we had management that cared about their players, their fans and the city’s best interests at heart. We’re not here to judge Osuna; that’s the job of the courts.
It’s difficult to get behind a team when Atkins says one thing, and does another. Atkins let Osuna’s ongoing issues—with mental health and crumbling amid pressure to perform—slip through the cracks. Not to say that the regime contributed to Osuna’s own wrongdoings. Still, our old regime was warm, Canadian and authentic. Atkins is cold, and it’s a sport played in the summer.
Given the circumstances, the question of whether Osuna really had to go is one for the courts, but I think every day that this season lingers, one thing is glaring: the guys that really need to go are the ones at the top.