Baltimore Orioles: Double-standard in the Brian Matusz case?


I personally feel that my job here at Birds Watcher is to report the news as it happens as opposed to taking a slant on anything and everything. I’m wary of the concept of yellow journalism, and I don’t want to come across as such – so while we tell a story from the perspective of the Baltimore Orioles, we also try to call things down the middle.

So with that said, here’s the news: Brian Matusz‘s suspension was upheld by MLB at eight games. He began serving the suspension during last night’s game. Matusz of course will be eligible to return to the Orioles on Sunday June 14 vs. New York. During the suspension, the Orioles will have to play with 24 players on their roster. 

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At around the same time that Matusz’s suspension was being upheld, Will Smith of Milwaukee (who committed the

Courtesy of David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

exact same offense only a few days before Matusz) had his eight-game suspension reduced to six games. So again, while we do try to call things down the middle in a sense, my personal opinion is that if you don’t stand up against injustice you all but advocate it.

I’m not saying that one example was right or wrong mind you. I’m just saying that since they committed the same infraction it would stand to reason that their cases should have been the same. It’s also worth mentioning that TV camera’s picked up globs of “foreign substance” on Smith’s arm, whereas with Matusz there was nary anything that was overly visible. (In other words, Smith seemed to be more brazen about it.) Smith also seemingly threw a hissy-fit while leaving the field, mouthing off towards the opposing dugout the entire time he was walking off the field.

I’m not suggesting that Smith should be punished for that, by the way. But if you’re looking at both situations, does it not come off as more dignified in a way to see Matusz realizing he got caught with his hands in the cookie jar, and just turning his back to the umpire and walking towards the clubhouse?

Dan Duquette wasn’t exactly diplomatic in his commentary of the decision (quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko of MASNsports):

"Brian Matusz was simply trying to grip the ball so he could throw an effective pitch. That’s not a crime that’s due a suspension from the league, as far as we’re concerned. It wasn’t pine tar, it was rosin and perspiration. He was trying to grip the ball. He wasn’t trying to doctor the ball, which is outside the rules. He was trying to grip the ball, get a consistent grip on the ball, and he used an approved substance.What difference does it make if it’s an approved substance to help you grip the ball more effectively? And if it’s on your arm, you’re still using it on your hand. Ridiculous argument by the league."

Both players got caught cheating, and there can be no doubt about that. However the impression that MLB is creating is that Matusz and by extension the Orioles are being punished more harshly than are Will Smith and the Milwaukee Brewers. The only possible justification here could possibly be that perhaps they upheld Matusz’s suspension due to the fact that he committed his “sin” so close after Smith had done his. It was in the news, and maybe he should have known better.

But you’d be remiss to argue that this comes off as fair. I’ll readily admit that sometimes it’s tough to treat people exactly the same. However this seems like a slam dunk type of case where what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. So…is there some other reason why this is happening? What are your thoughts?

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