The Miami Marlins were suddenly struck with an ugly situation on Sunday, as hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned after allegations of player abuse came out. Derek Dietrich, who is now playing for Double-A Jacksonville, allegedly put in the complaint to the team about abusive behavior by Martinez, including yanking him around by his neck and neck chain. It initially appeared as though the Marlins were contemplating their next move, but then they named John Pierson Martinez's replacement on an interim basis.
The Marlins have had public relations problems before coming from within the team. While on-field happenings sucha as personnel moves have been handled questionably, the Marlins are, like most teams, aware of how to handle public relations issues when they result in news. Much like the suspension and fining of Ozzie Guillen early last season, the Marlins managed this Tino Martinez problem correctly by accepting his resignation and letting him go.
In a sports world where we would like to imagine our athletes being rough, tough, and handle themselves physically, there is definitely no room for violent behavior like what we have heard Martinez use. Even if it is towards a benefit to the player, that behavior is not tolerable in any workplace, sports or otherwise. It is easy to dismiss these sorts of altercations as locker room actions meant to motivate players or even keep other players in line, but this would be unacceptable from one veteran player to another, let alone someone who is in a position of authority.
Earlier this year, the Rutgers University athletics department was rocked with a scandal regarding this very activity. College basketball coach Mike Rice was fired after video footage of him throwing basketballs and yelling gay slurs at young players was released by ESPN. The organization fired Rice and numerous athletics department officials resigned in association with the scandal. The university hired a new athletic director, who turned out to also be an abusive coach in her past as well.
In that case, it is easy to see why there was outrage involved. Rutgers University is an institution of learning filled with young adults fresh out of high school or not much older than that. Imagining such a thing happening to your college-aged child would be horrific, and thus most folks would cry out in unison against such a thing.
But when it comes to professional athletes, there is a thought that "whatever happens in the locker room stays in the locker room." When we hear football coaches say derogatory things about players, we chuckle and think of those coaches as "old school." If verbal abuse and, in this case, physicality is merely "old school," call me a proponent of a less violent "new school." If Martinez did indeed put his hands on Dietrich or any number of other players, it is simply unacceptable and not in any way a proper manner of teaching.
The difference between teaching players, especially young ones like the Marlins have, and infringing upon their personal space and right to not be attacked is obvious. If Martinez was putting his hands on players and being abusive, no matter that these players are supposedly "professional," he deserves to be on his way out and his reputation should be tarnished. There is no room in the Miami Marlins organization for nonsense like that, and the Fish were right to send him away.