The $320,855 Moment and a New Code

Published: November 3, 2017

By Jim Lichtman
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With all the incredible high-drama during one of the most exciting World Series ever, one unexpected scene played out in the Astro’s dugout. It only lasted a moment, but for first baseman Yuli Gurriel that moment will cost him in reputation and money.

During last Friday night’s game, Gurriel had just scored a homerun off Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish, who comes from Japan. In the dugout, Gurriel made a racist gesture when he moved his fingers to the sides of his eyes, then stretched the skin which caused his eyes to slant. The move was captured on camera and Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was incensed.

Manfred could have called for an immediate suspension of Gurriel. However, not wanting to punish an entire team for one man’s actions, particularly during a World Series, Manfred increased the normal two game suspension to five games at the beginning of next season.

Oh, and Gurriel will forfeit his pay for those games, $320,855.00. He will also have to attend sensitivity training sessions.

“Darvish issued a statement Friday night forgiving Gurriel,” The New York Times writes (Oct. 28), “and asking people to learn from the incident.

“Manfred then met with Gurriel, who is 33, on Saturday and said the player was contrite. Still, Manfred said Major League Baseball needed to act and send a message.

“ ‘Notwithstanding Mr. Gurriel’s remorse, there needs to be disciplinary consequences to make clear that Major League Baseball is an institution that will not tolerate behavior of this type,’ Manfred said. …

“In addition to the hand gesture, Gurriel also could be seen on camera on Friday using the Spanish word ‘chinito,’ which can be used as a demeaning term for Asians. Manfred said the five-game suspension of Gurriel and the sensitivity-training requirement took into account that he had uttered that word.”

One day before the game, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took another step toward dealing with unacceptable behavior.

Having earlier expelled Harvey Weinstein for alleged sexual harassment of dozens of women over decades, the Academy announced it would be working with lawyers and ethics experts to establish a code of conduct.

“According to an email sent to members by the Academy’s chief executive, Dawn Hudson,” The Times writes (Oct. 27), “the new rules will include ‘a policy for evaluating alleged violations and determining if action regarding membership is warranted.’ ”

Critics have pointed out “that Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977, and Bill Cosby still remain members.”

In an email to members, Hudson added, “Although we have no intention of functioning as an investigative body or moral court, we do have a right and duty as a voluntary association to maintain clear standards of workplace behavior for those we accept as members.”

It remains to be seen if, after consults with ethics and legal experts, the Academy steps up and takes the same action against Cosby and Polanski as they did by expelling Weinstein.


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