pound column

Actually, disappointed doesn’t begin to cover how I’m feeling about Atlanta Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna right now. 

The 30-year-old was arrested Saturday after police reportedly witnessed him choke his wife and throw her against a wall. Ozuna then hit her with the cast on his left hand, which he got after he dislocated two fingers sliding into a base while playing recently. He’s been charged with aggravated assault by strangulation and battery. Ozuna was released from jail Monday on a $20,000 bond. 

The Dominican Republic native had been a fan favorite in Atlanta despite the fact that he’s only in his second season here. He likely would have won MVP last year were it not for his teammate Freddie Freeman. Ozuna’s batting average has been down in 2021, but he was still bringing runs across the plate. Fans loved his selfie celebration he would sometimes do rounding the bases after a homer as well as with teammates following a victory. After Saturday’s incident, you can bet his status as a fan favorite is gone.

The Braves issued the following statement once Ozuna was arrested: “We learned of Marcell Ozuna’s arrest earlier this evening and immediately informed the Commissioner’s Office. The Braves fully support Major League Baseball’s policy on domestic violence which stresses to the fullest that our society cannot and will not tolerate domestic violence in any form. Until the investigation is completed, we will have no further comment and all inquiries into the matter should be referred to the Office of the Commissioner.”

That’s fine for a start, but let’s find a way to void this man’s contract. And I’m not saying that because I want the Braves to be financially free to go out and find a replacement bat. You hit a woman, you should not be paid $20 million. I thought that was what personal conduct policies in professional sports were for. There have been conflicting reports thus far on whether or not Atlanta will be handcuffed to the deal Ozuna signed this past offseason. If the ballclub is stuck, then those policies are seriously in need of significant revision. Paying a man a mountain of money after choking and striking his wife is a terrible look.

The Braves predictably played awful the day the Ozuna news broke, losing 13-2 to the first-place New York Mets. What I liked though was that the team bounced back Monday with a 5-3 home win over the Nationals. What I liked even better was when three players gathered in the shallow outfield grass for a postgame celebration a la Ozuna’s selfie. They didn’t pose for a pretend photograph though. They got together and “brought the hammer down” simultaneously, so to speak, putting the old way behind them. The days of mixing it up and smiling for an imaginary camera in Atlanta are as gone as Marcell Ozuna’s Major League Baseball career. 

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