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Alexander: Effects of Julio Urías situation will go way beyond Dodgers

It is way too early to make assumptions in the case of Julio Urías, too early to speculate on what might happen because we don’t know exactly what did happen Monday evening in a parking structure at the Beverly Center.
We know he was accused, by police, of shoving his female companion to the ground. He was arrested, booked, released on $20,000 bond and has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.
We know the Dodgers are tight-lipped these days, allowing MLB to take the lead. We also know that the Dodgers have backed away from acquiring players with domestic violence in their pasts. We do not know how this will shake out, whether he is looking at a lengthy suspension or whether he’ll even wear the Dodgers uniform again.
And we definitely don’t know if there is a history, or if this was a one-time occurrence. That, I suspect, will be one of the things MLB’s investigators look into in determining the incident’s seriousness, and it likely will have an effect on what kind of suspension, if any, is handed down.
But we know this: The effects go way beyond what happens to the Dodgers’ pitching staff the rest of the season, and maybe even beyond where Urías’ career goes from here.
Those who have been victims, or survivors, of domestic violence and who see these details will have their own thoughts, their own memories, their own fears come rushing back.
“It can definitely trigger people,” said Melodie Kruspodin, the prevention and policy director at Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles-based volunteer organization committed to intervention, prevention education and emergency services for abuse and violence victims.
“We run a 24-hour hotline here at Peace Over Violence for domestic violence and sexual assault, and we can actually see a statistical increase in how many phone calls we get to the hotline when there is a public case around sexual assault or domestic violence. It can either trigger people to flashbacks, or it can make this person feel like, ‘Wow, what this person is describing sounds like what I’m going through. So am I going through domestic violence?’
“The other thing I would say is that I think survivors, like current survivors or victims, are also looking to how we react to these cases. They’re also paying attention to, ‘Are we blaming the victim and asking, well, did he or she do something? Did they cause this person to hit them? (Or is it) oh, well, I don’t believe them because I know this guy and he would never do something like that.’ So I think it’s also about what our response is as a society.”
Society has changed in this regard: The old attitude of ‘boys will be boys’ is no longer acceptable. What that has done in sports, in particular, is to shine a harsher light on both those who have committed acts of domestic violence along with those who have been accused. The Cubs’ Addison Russell, booed by the home fans last week when he returned from a 40-game domestic violence suspension, is but one example.
The Dodgers have avoided such players on two different occasions during Andrew Friedman’s tenure, cutting off negotiations on a potential Aroldis Chapman trade in December of 2015 and staying out of the bidding for reliever Roberto Osuna last summer.
What do they do now, with one of their own, if Urías is suspended or faces legal jeopardy? If it comes down to a team decision, where do social responsibility and competitive considerations converge, and where do they diverge? It’s not a simple question to answer, especially when we as yet know so little.
Another question: Is a zero tolerance policy, while principled, the most effective way to address this issue in your community?
Kruspodin, whose organization deals with such situations daily, said she does not have an issue with second chances for people who take responsibility for their actions and work to change their behavior.
A far more effective tack would be for teams and leagues to really lean into advocacy. Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation, started by the former manager who is now an MLB vice president, provides help for children who have been caught up in abusive relationships and obviously has a lot of support within the game. But teams probably could do more in their individual communities.
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“We want, whether it be teams or Major League Baseball or whoever it may be, to also focus on what are we doing to try to prevent this from happening in the first place?” Kruspodin said. “Can we provide training or education to players, to administration, to the organization, to be aware of these things, to let them know what a healthy relationship is?
“… Are they showing any kind of (desire) to address this as an issue? Perhaps not focusing on one specific player or one incident but saying, ‘We as the Dodgers or we as Major League Baseball take domestic violence seriously, don’t think that it’s right, (and) believe and support survivors.’ ”
Getting that message out there would be good. Backing it up with time, effort and money to local organizations that support victims and survivors – and there are plenty of them in every city – would be better, not just for baseball teams but franchises in all sports.
Better still would be making sure the message – that relationships should be built on respect, not intimidation or manipulation – is reinforced in every clubhouse and locker room.
Every workplace, actually.
jalexander@scng.com
@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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