Manfred then met with Gurriel, who is 33, on Saturday and said the player was contrite. Still, Manfred said Major League Baseball needed to act and send a message.
“Notwithstanding Mr. Gurriel’s remorse, there needs to be disciplinary consequences to make clear that Major League Baseball is an institution that will not tolerate behavior of this type,” he said.
Manfred gave four reasons for postponing the suspension until next season. First, he did not want to penalize the other members of the Astros at such a critical moment in the season. He also said that Gurriel’s statement of contrition was a factor and that he wanted Gurriel to feel the financial impact of the penalty, which would not have happened in the World Series because of the manner in which players receive their salaries.
Finally, Manfred said he wanted to afford Gurriel the right to the usual appeal process, even though the players’ union announced Saturday that Gurriel would not appeal.
Actually, the appeal issue was a somewhat complicated one. In the regular season, a player who appeals a suspension can continue to play until the appeal process is completed.
In the postseason, however, a different timetable is used, and under it, a suspension immediately takes effect unless an arbitrator grants a stay. So had Manfred chosen to suspend Gurriel for Game 4 and had the union decided to appeal, the Series would have had to deal with a major distraction — namely, which way the arbitrator was going to rule.
And while Manfred did not say so in his news conference, he might have wanted to avoid that sort of situation.
At his news conference on Saturday, Manfred was also asked why Major League Baseball was quick to punish Gurriel while the Cleveland Indians are permitted to use their Chief Wahoo logo, which is viewed by many people as an offensive caricature of Native Americans.
In response, Manfred said he saw a difference between one player specifically targeting another with a racial stereotype and the Chief Wahoo logo, but acknowledged that each one was troublesome.
“While both are problematic, I don’t see them as the same issue,” he said. “We continue to have conversations with the Indians about the logo, and it’s an issue I intend to deal with in the off-season.”
In addition to the hand gesture, Gurriel also could be seen on camera on Friday using the Spanish word “chinito,” which can be used as a demeaning term for Asians. Manfred said the five-game suspension of Gurriel and the sensitivity-training requirement took into account that he had uttered that word.