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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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July 1, 2008 3:22 PM

Life in bizarro world

Posted by Geoff Baker

Many of us have dreamed at some point, if only for a millisecond, of doing what Shawn Chacon did to his boss last week. Of course, we live in civilized society. I'd love to jump off the Space Needle, flap my wings and soar around Puget Sound just like a free bird sometimes. But I don't do it. The Houston Astros pitcher got tired of hearing his boss berate him in front of teammates, so he threw GM Ed Eade to the ground. Naturally, he was released by the team.

But the MLB Players' Association is going to handle a wrongful termination grievance on his behalf. They say his release came without just cause. And you thought ballplayers were just like you or me? Think again. Now, look. I realize there are probably some legal definitions and interpretations to be ironed out here. Understand that contracts have provisions for things like this and such.

But hey, in what job out there (besides baseball) is a guy going to be able to throttle a boss nearly twice his (or her) age and not lose their employment? What am I missing here? Anyone care to help me out?

By the way, I don't ever advocate physical violence as a way of sorting out workplace problems. Yes, we've all had supervisors and co-workers we'd love to give the schoolyard treatment to. And they to us. But that's not a healthy way to build a career and sort things out. In the home or office. Unless, of course, you happen to pitch for a major league team. Or hit home runs for one, as Manny Ramirez demonstrated over the weekend. For me, this is different from former Toronto manager John Gibbons duking it out with Ted Lilly a couple of years ago. Gibbons invited that scrap. Lilly took him up on it. They were both in reasonably decent shape. Gibbons was in his early 40s and a former big leaguer.

Ed Wade is 52 and a former PR assistant turned GM. I'd love to see Chacon try pulling this on Billy Beane.

But really, have we, as a contract-driven society, lost our minds in this case? Is this the end of civilization as we know it? Or just business as usual?

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Posted by Novice

3:57 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Well this sure isnt the kind of behavior you would see a team leader like Bloomquist show. He has been nothing but a class act and savior ever since he joined to Mariners. His clubhouse leadership alone has probably kept numerous incidents from breaking out in the clubhouse this year.

Posted by Tacoma Rain

4:01 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Novice, you are right!!!

Long live Queen Willie...

Posted by 6killer

4:03 PM, Jul 01, 2008

MLB players are above the law. They get away with crimes that ordianry citizens wouldn't. Like beating down your boss. Any of us did that we'd go to jail. They get away with taking illegal drugs. Any of us did that we'd go to jail. But why? It's simple, they make fat men fatter. Cash money.

On another note...How lame is it that A-Rod just opted out of the HR derby? In his home ballpark! In the last year of Yankee stadium! That shows what A-Rod really cares about. Not the game, not history, not the fans, all he really cares about is himself.

Posted by Stan

4:08 PM, Jul 01, 2008

The Boston Red Sox said they handled the matter with Manny internally. I am wondering why they didn't suspended him two games without pay. Workplace rules in baseball shouldn't be any different than anywhere else.

Posted by Ted

4:11 PM, Jul 01, 2008


> I'd love to see Chacon try pulling this on Billy Beane.

Or Riggleman... he looks like he's in better shape than half the M's right now.

Posted by fg

4:14 PM, Jul 01, 2008

I'm a teacher, and we always hear about 'violence' in the classroom-directed at the teacher or otherwise. What I find interesting is that if you look at the stats the time that was most dangerous to teach was the turn of the century from the 19th to the 20th. More teachers were killed then by students than at any other time.

What we see as 'decline' of civilization is often, in my experience, just when someone comes of age and looks around and says, "this is it?" and the virtuous one says later, "Well I gotta lotta work to do," the not so virtuous says, "I'm outta here" in some form or other i.e materialism, alcoholism, or the tried and true conscious ignorance.

Just the other day here in Sherman Alexies column where so many are in an uproar about Shaqs rap about Kobe-Alexie quoted Mark Twain's dis on Jane Austen-same stuff, different times. History doesn't repeat, I am told, but it rhymes.

Human's will be Human's until there are no Humans. And on a baseball note-I am sure if we looked at Ty Cobbs time there were more punches in the faces both ways, I am sure Jackie Robinson had to crack a few ribs to stay afloat, and I can't think the Babe didn't toss a few management folks on their rear.

An ass is an ass no matter what era or tutu

Words from an old man
FG

Posted by StuHamm

4:20 PM, Jul 01, 2008

But really, have we, as a Mariners fan base, lost our minds in this case? Is this the end of journalism at the Seattle Times website as we know it?

Geoff, you're not a sociologist, nor are you paid to be an observer of society at large. Don't turn this blog into a place for cranks to argue about how society is being ruined by the legal system. Maybe they're right, but no one in their right mind comes to a baseball blog for that kind of discussion.

This is horrible sports journalism on your part because it is a blatant attempt to whip up the masses on an issue. You've been doing it all season, antagonizing readers and posters, calling people names, being highly argumentative and biased and then complaining when your posters follow suit as if the problem is them.

I miss Larry Stone. He's funny, and a good writer, and he has meaningful insights about BASEBALL. I also love it when he posts because the cranks and the trolls and the people who are here just to rile things up don't post. They only post when you write, Geoff.

If you had purely stuck to the legal issues of baseball, the player's union, the fact that the sport is a monopoly I would've had little problem with this post. But your last mini-paragraph is bad journalism at it's finest.

Posted by downinthegroove

4:21 PM, Jul 01, 2008

He is union. You gotta protect and file. Unless he showed up blatently drunk and out of sorts he is entitled to his protection. Union baby.

Posted by white line fever

4:29 PM, Jul 01, 2008

My co-worker tackled our boss who also happend to own the compony and throw him over a bush and he still had his job...amazing!

Posted by Adam

4:31 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Off-topic:

While the M's are taking offers for Eric Bedard, Adam Jones just put up the following line for Baltimore in June:

.323/.349/.455


An .804 OPS plus outstanding CF defense from a 23 year-old? That's pretty good stuff.

Posted by 6killer

4:32 PM, Jul 01, 2008

what the heck is a troll?

forgive me I'm new to this whole blog world. I've seen it mentioned a few times. I know you aren't referring to a big ugly hairy thing that lives under a bridge...

Posted by 6killer

4:35 PM, Jul 01, 2008

by the way, can we change the subject in here?

I'd like to know other people's opinion on A-Rod
How lame is it that A-Rod just opted out of the HR derby? In his home ballpark! In the last year of Yankee stadium! That shows what A-Rod really cares about. Not the game, not history, not the fans, all he really cares about is himself.

anyways I'll see how that flows, I gotta run out forsmokes

Posted by casetines

4:36 PM, Jul 01, 2008

As I heard some sports person say, I dont remember who, the only thing Shawn Chacon did wrong was pitch bad.

If Lance Berkman had done the same or worse, we either would have never heard about it or if it did get to the media "uhh, yeah, we're suspending him 1 days worth of food money"

But Chacon is a #6 starter so he will be released and never play in the majors again. If he had an era of 3, he still might get released but he'd get picked up in a heart beat.

What he did was wrong, but let's not forget that MLB, or NBA, or any top professional sports league is already Bizarro world. Its not about what you do, its about what you do on the field.

Posted by fire_chuck_anytimenow

4:37 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Lou and old school coaches like Norm would never stand for this sort of thing.

Who was the coach who didn't watch Putz and make sure he was doing what he was supposed to?

Posted by isaac_spaceman

4:37 PM, Jul 01, 2008

"In what job out there (besides baseball) is a guy going to be able to throttle a boss nearly twice his (or her) age and not lose [his or her] employment?"

In the NBA? (Google "sprewell carlesimo grievance.")

Anyway, the point of the grievance isn't really for him to keep his job. It's really to set up a structure to negotiate the terms on which he loses it.

Posted by Adam

4:44 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Oh, and RE: Chacon - The Astros were perfectly right to can Chacon. I'd love to see the MLPA's argument as to why his release was unlawful.

Posted by Steve 723

4:47 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Geoff, I agree with you completely, from a reality standpoint. Unfortunately, in the world of employment law, reality sometimes takes a back seat to logic. I'm an employment defense lawyer (I defend the companies, not the employees), and I see these kinds of grievances filed all the time. The union knows they don't have much of a case, from what I've read about this situation. However, what they're setting up here is the opportunity to reduce the discipline Chacon is ultimately going to receive. Most likely, he'll sign some kind of settlement agreement that states he won't return to the Astros ever again, won't disparage the team, won't sue them, and will drop the grievance. In exchange, they'll pay part of his salary (assuming it's not a guaranteed salary--- not sure how his is structured) for him to go away.

Anyway, to answer your last question, unfortunately, this is business as usual. Whether it's pro sports or Microsoft, you'll see that kind of behavior almost anywhere. The difference is that pro sports life is far more magnified than some programmer in a cubicle at Microsoft.

Posted by Tictac

4:47 PM, Jul 01, 2008

StuHamm: Seriously?

You don't think Geoff writing a blog entry (operative word is blog) about something a baseball player did is worthy of being written about by a sports journalist? What, should only a reporter who covers employment or legal issues write about this? That notion is ridiculous! As if a sports journalist should never write anything besides what happens on the field or court. Come on!

A blatant attempt to whip up the masses?!? Have you read any of Geoff's blog (or any blog for that matter) at all or do you just pretend to? People have no problem whatsoever disagreeing with Geoff (as you point out so why would this topic be any different) If readers don't think this topic is worthy of discussion, no masses will be stirred.

Now, on to the actual topic... downinthegroove points out that union rules prevail here. True, but I think in this example the union loses a lot of credibility by trying to defend Chacon's actions. The Player's union doesn't take on every negative action against a player. Frankly, as someone who is pro-union, it is reasons such as this that make me realize why so many people hate unions and all they stand for.

Posted by Mark in Beaverton

4:51 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Within 1 second of hearing the Astros were going to release him and not pay him, I knew the union was going to file a grievance. I hope the Astros stick to their guns and don't pay him a dime more.
the MLB Union is way to powerfull and needs to be knocked down a peg or two! A team needs to be able to dump players like him and not pay him, doing otherwise would set a bad precident!

Posted by Chrome Dome

4:58 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Stu- IF Geoffs writing is that bad to you and you do not like it then your solution is simple- STOP READING IT.

Posted by mark

4:58 PM, Jul 01, 2008

StuHamm shut up and go away.

Posted by Mr. X

5:03 PM, Jul 01, 2008

It's called liberalism run amok. The rat player's association lawyer will just argue that Chacon's Father didn't hug him enough, or his Mother hugged him too much. They will try to get every dime they can for Chacon, and probably even try to get more than specified in his contract. Just because that's what vermin do. It's like breathing to them.

Posted by 11Records

5:10 PM, Jul 01, 2008

"WILL WE SEE A JAPANESE MANAGER IN THE MAJORS?"

"I don't think there ever will be. But then again, it wouldn't surprise me. He would have to know good English if it was going to happen."

-- Jarrod Washburn
Mariners LHP

Posted by Chrome dome

5:17 PM, Jul 01, 2008

What Chacon did was assualt! No way around it...Can you imagine throwing your boss to the ground, getting fired and then filing a complaint saying they need to pay you?? Bizarre indeed.

Posted by John

5:23 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Geoff,

Today's posts have been very interesting. With all of the "deserved" brow beating on the Mariners, your posts were becoming unbearable and uninteresting. You can only take so much of the same old, same old. You know, "M's are bad, cut Richie, cut Vidro, fire Mac, fire bavasi." Just because something is true, doesn't mean we want to read about it every day-day after day.

Posted by greyguy

5:23 PM, Jul 01, 2008

"what the heck is a troll?"

A troll is someone who makes posts on sites like this with the hopes of getting people angry or making them rant. Novice is a troll who posts only praise for Willie Bloomquist in hopes of getting people to post rants setting him straight.

As to the original post, if I were the owner I'd file assault charges against Chacon. Surely being in jail is a valid reason to fire someone.

Posted by StuHamm

5:25 PM, Jul 01, 2008

As a case in point to Chrome Dome and Mark, I present Mr. X's response to Geoff's blog post:

"It's called liberalism run amok. The rat player's association lawyer will just argue that Chacon's Father didn't hug him enough, or his Mother hugged him too much. They will try to get every dime they can for Chacon, and probably even try to get more than specified in his contract. Just because that's what vermin do. It's like breathing to them."

Please tell me what this has to do with baseball?

And Tictac, if you had actually read what I wrote (a mistake you ironically accuse me of) you would've noted that I said:

"If you had purely stuck to the legal issues of baseball, the player's union, the fact that the sport is a monopoly I would've had little problem with this post. But your last mini-paragraph is bad journalism at it's finest."

So, I clearly have no problem with Geoff bringing up the Shawn Chacon situation. What I have a problem with is him turning this blog about baseball into a space where we people like Mr. X can complain about society at large with the final portion of his post. I'm pretty sure this is not a blog about "the end of civilization" as we know it and instead it's suppose to be about baseball.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

5:34 PM, Jul 01, 2008

I am not surprised at all, Geoff. Open a labor law case reporter, and you'll see Unions defending all kinds of meritless positions on behalf of members in just about every industry that is organized. The Union is believed to be doing its job to take on management in most every case. It is how they keep people paying dues and being happy about it. It is the same deal with striking over minor points in a contract when the offer is perfectly good. Unions thrive on a relationship of antagonism where conceding even the least significant case as meritless hurts its standing among its membership.

Posted by 11Records

5:40 PM, Jul 01, 2008

no mention of Manny Ramirez in this thread?

I think that's the proof that the punishment is directly proportional to your performance on the field. He shoved a man in his 60's to the ground because they guy didn't get him 16 tickets for a game. And what do the Sox do? They "handled it internally." What does that mean? It means that halfway through the season they're a game behind the Rays, and David Ortiz is on the DL, and if there's any way on this earth you think they're gonna sit Manny for a day or two when they need his bat in the lineup you're totally high.

This run-on sentence brought to you by Jarrod Washburn's grammar teachers.

Posted by Faceplant

5:49 PM, Jul 01, 2008

"It's called liberalism run amok. The rat player's association lawyer will just argue that Chacon's Father didn't hug him enough, or his Mother hugged him too much."

I consider myself a liberal. Does that make me vermin Mr. X? Why not go pop some oxycontin with Rush Limbaugh while he tells us all how drug users should be shipped off to London and Zurich.

Seriously, don't you have some gay people to hate?

See, I can make sweeping generalizations too! See how easy that is!

By the way, Chacon got what he deserved.

Posted by Bork

5:59 PM, Jul 01, 2008

How does the player's association think that they have a case for a wrongful termination grievance? Better yet, why are they even supporting him? That's just plain bad sportsmanship. Chacon most definitely got what he deserved.

Posted by Nat

6:05 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Only in professional sports where unions are an established structural part of the game can this resemble anything considered normal.

In real life many of us grew up learning the nursery rhyme, "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt me." While words flying back and forth on the playground were legitimate, pounding someone was not. It's called common sense. Obviously, Chacon is lacking in that trait.

Someone said it reflects badly on unions to take this action, and I'd agree with that. They don't care! So I would urge Ed Wade, who called Chacon out, to file for assault, as ChromeDome suggests.

But Wade won't do it because he was bullying Chacon with words, as Mark Loretta who was there stated. The GM would rather be seen as a victim than a bully. So the respective lawyers in this scenario will settle on something they can live with.

A little bit bizarro, Geoff, but not really unexpected in this crazy world we live in- really, just stupidity, at best.

Posted by BWare

6:31 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Sorry to provoke again...

The Chacon/Wade fiasco, IMHO, reflects more on Wade's / Astros leadership deficiencies, as opposed to the "what was he smoking" mental state of Chacon.

No excuse for what Chacon did, and his unconditional release was proper. I'd have to understand and digest the language and context of typical player contracts before asserting that he shouldn't be paid his salary in full.

I would expect that the language and context of the contract implicitly contemplates Chacon's behavior, just cannot say for certain. What I can say is that, inasmuch as there are mitigating circumstances, Chacon's behavior has to be weighed in light of them.

This is where Wade failed the Astros miserably.

From the bit of research that I did - there are many versions of the same story - what clearly emerges is that Wade wantonly and intentionally berated Chacon, without provocation, and Chacon reacted to the berating.

A person who is a true leader would not have escaleted the hate and discontent like Wade apparently did. Now Lou Piniella would've put foot in a** and scrapped toe-to-toe with Chacon if it were him, but this would certainly have stayed an in-house matter. That's the clubhouse culture, and Lou would be the chief steward of it.

Wade is not of that culture; therefore, he was way out of place to intervene. At the most, he should have DEMANDED that Cecil Cooper deal with it like yesterday or else.

In the real working world, what Wade did was harrassment and abuse, and I'd be willing to bet my bottom dollar that Wade is a repeat offender in this regard. His tenure in Philly, as documented by the media, seems to suggest this.

Chacon, Wade, MLB and MLBPA will ultimately sort this out in a way that will make the parties accountable and allow everyone to move on from it. That stated, it seems to me that these sorts of things tend to happen more often inside organizations that exhibit poor leadership.

Posted by AK1984

12:05 AM, Jul 02, 2008

Ed Wade and Shawn Chacon both come across as idiotic tools from this whole ordeal. Wade shouldn't've run his mouth like a despotic tyrant, while Chacon shouldn't've overreacted in a violent manner. In all fairness, Chacon should be released from the team; yet, he should nevertheless be paid the remainder of his salary. That's a fair and balanced solution, which'd benefit both parties in an otherwise hostile situation.

Anyhow, with regards to political ideologies, most reactionary conservatives would support Wade and rag on Chacon; conversely, most leftist liberals would blame Wade and defend Chacon. Conservatives and liberals are usually misguided fools, though; they combine to form the doltish masses. Libertarians, however, are oftentimes intelligent folks who tend to properly place equal blame on both parties.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

4:31 AM, Jul 02, 2008

Not sure if anyone mentioned this, but please keep in mind:

- Professional sports are violent by their very nature (in baseball, batters routinely get hit by 95mph pitches and splintered bats fly around the infield)

- Professional sports are very competitive and demanding, as owners want to see results, putting pressures on managers and players on down the roster not surprisingly, tempers will boil over

- Violence in the game is common, either between opposing teams in the form of "brawls" or sometimes between players.

So thats just the way it is: in an adrenaline charged, high-performance environment, its conceivable that a player might shove another player, or even a manager. they're not accountants people! they get paid to be aggressive, physical, and dominant. clearly, assault in a baseball context is different than assault on the street. and i agree with a former poster: he's not being released because he assaulted his manager; he's being released because he sucks.

Posted by MRB

7:10 AM, Jul 02, 2008

I expected the players union to do this - they represent Chacon and aren't in the business of seeing players lose careers. I don't think they'll win, and I don't think ANYONE expects them to win (Chacon included).

So it's not a big deal. At least Chacon admitted he was wrong and lost his cool and isn't complaining about the consequences. If other teams dont want him this year, he can validly complain but won't elict a ton of support.

I mean, he can know and fully understand that he did the wrong thing... but can he accept losing his career for it?

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