The honorable Joe Torre has issued his ruling: Toronto's Brett Lawrie has received a four-game suspension and will be fined an undisclosed amount for what Major League Baseball calls Lawrie's "aggressive actions toward umpire Bill Miller on Tuesday."
Lawrie plans to appeal the suspension and will be in the lineup for Wednesday night's game against the Yankees.
As you've probably seen by now, the 22-year-old Blue Jays third baseman put on a memorable tantrum after two bad strike calls by Miller, eventually throwing a helmet that bounced off the ground near home plate and into Miller's hip.
Just how long Lawrie deserved to be suspended was the subject of a hot debate for much of Wednesday. On one end of the extremes was our own Dave Brown, who called for a 10-game break for the hotheaded sophomore infielder. On the other were the Labatt-chugging Blue Jay fan boys, who somehow thought Miller's awful calls provided a way to condone Lawrie's actions. (If you think I'm inventing a strawman here, I have a full email box to show you.)
The actual suspension landed almost in the middle and was far from severe, a fact that started to become apparent when Torre told Danny Knobler of CBS Sports that he didn't believe that Lawrie had intentionally hit Miller with his helmet. "The decision could have been better as [far] as the direction, but I don't believe he was trying to hit him," Torre told Knobler.
Truth be told, four games is probably just about right for Lawrie and that's a judgment I make by completely divorcing his actions from Miller's egregious calls. The punishment is long enough for Lawrie to sit down and think about what he did. I'll also argue that any sentence handed down by Torre pales in comparison to the damage that Lawrie did to his character. For many sports fans, the first time they'd ever heard of the blossoming star was when they logged onto yahoo.com Wednesday morning and saw Lawrie completely melting down.
Put it this way: When people are now making the joke that Lawrie could learn a thing or two about growing up from Bryce Harper — everyone's previous favorite whipping boy — you can see him being cast into a mold that will be hard to escape.
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