Major League Baseball announced today that San Francisco Giants team president, Larry Baer, has been suspended until July 2nd.
He will not be able to have contact with the league or the San Francisco Giants until July. Commissioner, Rob Manfred, released a statement today, stating that Baer’s leave of absence in March has been changed to an unpaid suspension. Baer also released a statement of his own.
Among the comments from Manfred is that Baer was “held to a higher standard because as a leader he is expected to be a role model.” This is just the latest blow in an already brutal few months for the Giants organization and their fans.
The Giants are days away from Opening Day and they have had to deal with many dark clouds this off-season.
The team has had to say goodbye to legends like Hank Greenwald, Willie McCovey, Frank Robinson and Peter Magowan. They began the off-season firing long time front office executive Bobby Evans, who after a brilliant career under Brian Sabean that led to three World Championships, was let go in September.
And, their new front office leader has struggled to add talent, as everyone from Bryce Harper to Carlos Gonzalez has turned them down. In the midst of all of this, Larry Baer may have been the toughest news to receive.
Obviously, losing Greenwald, McCovey, Robinson and Magowan were heartbreaking and reminders of how precious life is, but Baer being caught on camera allegedly physically assaulting his wife is an entirely different kind of heartache.
Baer and Magowan helped save baseball in San Francisco after buying the team in 1992. By simply keeping the Giants from moving to Tampa Bay, Baer cemented his legacy in San Francisco as a savior.
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Then, we saw our savior in a video that was impossible to ignore. Just three days later, Baer decided to step away from the Giants. The San Francisco district attorney’s office reviewed the evidence and decided not to press charges, releasing a statement:
"“After a careful review of the relevant evidence, including multiple videos, statements from several witnesses and the parties themselves, the evidence does not support filing criminal charges.”"
Baer now faces discipline from Major League Baseball. San Francisco Mayor London Breed had called for discipline against Baer back in March.
With all the uncertainty heading into the 2019 season, Baer’s status might be the most uncertain of all.
How should Giants fans take this news and should the fan base embrace him back, if he does in fact return in July?
Bay Area fans tend to be some of the most forgiving in sports. Pablo Sandoval knows this after making some brutal comments on his way out the door to Boston. After the Red Sox released him from his enormous contract, the Giants brought him back. Fans could have turned on him and, instead, they embraced him back rather quickly.
Wounds can heal, and time can forgive most wounds. But, like all wounds, they are hard to forget. With no charges pending for Baer, will the court of public opinion be as kind to the former savior? Maybe not. The video is hard to deny that something was terribly wrong with his behavior.
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However, we are all better than our worst moment, and maybe this was an isolated incident. We make assumptions all the time in sports and with the lives of celebrities. We can make assumptions about Baer’s behavior behind closed doors being worse, or this just being one terrible moment in an otherwise brilliant career.
From the public comments of both Larry and his wife, Pamela, if you take them at their word, this was just a one time thing and there is deep regret from both sides. Will that be enough for the Giants organization if Baer wants to return and will he be welcomed by a fan base that revered him for more than 20 years?