So much more needs to be said about Miguel Sano, sexual harassment and the improper actions of men in so many sectors across the country. I think, however, that this is a topic that needs to move into the “conversation” stage, rather than just having another guy tell you what he thinks about the matter. Go listen to social scientists, psychologists, and most of all, women, on the topic of what Sano did that was wrong (allegedly) if you haven’t figured that out, and why so many people find her story believable. There are no shortage of resources on the topic, and the bulk of journalists and bloggers believe Betsy Bissen over Sano’s denial. That should carry weight with you.
Now, what this is is a baseball blog, and it’s about the Minnesota Twins. What I am going to do is try to divine what the Twins will do going forward. My prediction is that Sano will remain on the Twins payroll through this year and probably into next year. There is one reason to suspect that it might not work out that way, and unfortunately, it’s not the assault thing by itself. Many players have been accused and in some cases convicted of such a transgression on a lot of teams in a lot of leagues, and sometimes the transgressions were worse than Sano’s. Players come back, and sometimes can get by with only a fine.
From a strictly baseball perspective, it wouldn’t be great for the Twins to let Sano, a player they had invested so much time into, go without any return, would not be optimal, because one way or another, Sano will return as a professional ball player. Aside from that, Sano is as much the Twins’ responsibility as anyone in his life. He has been professionally employed since he was 16, and was never truly required to grow up beyond the maturity of a high schooler, and was not in as close contact with mentors concerned with his emotional maturation as his physical development. On the spectrum of right and wrong, The Twins do lean towards “wrong” to this point. From a non-baseball perspective, the Twins owe it to Sano and the world at large to help him learn from this incident and come out the other side as a better human being, because they have played a part in raising him, as well as developing and employing him.
As I said earlier, there is one thing that could complicate whether Sano sticks around in Minnesota. It’s not that Sano may have assaulted someone. If there is one thing that makes Sano’s situation different than many others is that the victim in this case is a member of the press. Pressure stands to be a little bit more intense on Minnesota to do the right thing, whatever that ultimately is. The baseball operations side of the Twins, I believe, will lead to the Twins keeping Sano under contract. The public relations part of the organization, and truly any part of the franchise with an ounce of humanity will insist upon the reclamation and redemption of Sano being as public and transparent as possible. The question will not ever go away, and Sano can never slip again while under the Twins’ team control, not with the press, from the blogosphere up to the national media all keeping a steady eye on the organization.
From a place of great pain, the Twins have an opportunity to take a leadership role in both fighting for the rights of and respect for women, and the education of men and especially athletes in how to act in a responsible and mature manner. I’ve often said that we need to wait and see just how capable the Twins front office is, to see how they can acquire and develop talent towards the team that they want. This is a situation in which we need to see them act swiftly and resolutely. If they do intend to keep Sano, how can they make him better? More directly, how WILL they make him better?