Wood Suspension Full of Splinters

Bobby Higginson, Jason Boyd, Terrence Long and Jose Guillen. What do all of these players have in common? Simple. They each received shorter suspensions than the Commissioner's Office handed down to Kerry Wood Wednesday for arguing with home plate umpire Eric Cooper almost two weeks ago.

Higginson was suspended two games for throwing equipment that hit an umpire.

Guillen, Boyd and Long received suspensions of two, three and four games respectively for making contact with an umpire.

In fact, Jorge Posada received six games – only one game more than Wood – for making contact with an umpire multiple times during an argument, and then topping off the exchange by throwing equipment onto the playing field.

Granted, most of the aforementioned names are everyday players, so the suspensions are inherently more severe, but Wood's suspension lowers the threshold for on-the-field behavior in a significant way.

Cleary, Wood lost his cool during the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on April 17. But, last time I checked, there is no policy against losing one's cool.

Wood maintained enough composure to stop in his tracks a few inches short of the umpire and avoid contact. His reward for the display of self-discipline: a suspension so egregious that it is clear the Commissioner's Office is more concerned with making examples out of players than objectively evaluating the seriousness of the crime.

Dusty Baker's suspension, which he was not allowed to appeal, was equally dubious. According to the Commissioner's Office, some fans in the new premium seats behind home plate phoned the Office and complained about Baker's use of foul language in front of children.

Now, I am not endorsing foul language at the ballpark, but Wrigley Field is not exactly a library.

For those that complained to the Commissioner's Office, I have a suggestion: don't show up for any interleague games between the Cubs and White Sox. Because Sox fans will be dropping more F-bombs on Cub players than, well, the Osbournes.

Cub fans might not have heard the latest suspensions handed down last night:

  • Greg Maddux: 10 games for not showing enough emotion.

  • Carlos Zambrano: Nine games for pointing his finger at the sky (no taunting the clouds!).

  • Joe Borowksi: Suspended four games for having a 75 MPH fastball.

  • Sammy Sosa: Suspended nine games for scaring kids in the right field bleachers by running too fast out of the dugout at the beginning of the game.

    I would hate to see Major League Baseball gradually strip excessive emotion out of the game the way the NFL (No Fun League) has done with post-touchdown celebrations.

    Fans feed off of the unbridled emotion from guys like Zambrano, Wood and Sosa. At least we know these players are passionate about their profession.

    Wood is appealing, as he should. However, in the event that the suspension is not lifted or reduced, Baker should turn the tables and make an example out of the Commissioner's Office by pulling his team off the field for the start that Wood misses.

    Extreme? Absolutely.

    Forfeiting one game in what will surely be a tight pennant race can only hurt the team's playoff chances. However, there is more at stake here.

    Players, managers, and fans do not object to strict enforcement of the code of conduct. What is objectionable, however, is inconsistency.

    The Wood suspension is a punishment that most certainly does not fit the crime.

    Maybe during the appeal process the Commisioner's office comes to its senses.

    Brian Lustig is our senior editorialist at CubsTalk.com. Agree or disagree with Brian? E-mail him at blustig@cubstalk.com.

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