Why the Phillies must move on from Odubel Herrera


The work ethic that an athlete puts into his craft, the time sacrificed in life, and the choices made are all things that aren’t largely talked about because they aren’t displayed on the field of play. We don’t see every time an athlete has failed so that they could learn to perfect a pitch or swing. We don’t know how long it takes to become the bonafide professional that we watch on gameday. We don’t know why professional athletes make the choices they do to damage their careers.

It takes many years to build a good reputation and only a few moments to ruin it. For Odubel Herrera, he was hitting the ball well during the early part of the Philadelphia Phillies season, then along came controversy. In a moments notice, the love that Philadelphia has for its own disappeared.

The Philadelphia Phillies and their fans shouldn’t, and don’t, want Odubel Herrera back in center field. As of today, July 3rd, his charges were dropped regarding his domestic abuse case, but that shouldn’t be taken as any sort of good news. He still found himself in this scenario, he still put his career in jeopardy, and he’s still viewed as disgusting in the public eye. As much as we all were throwing up the horns when “El Torito” hit home runs at Citizens Bank Park this season, those horns are now turned down. The only question we should be asking, is ‘who will take his place?’

Major League Baseball is still investigating Odubel Herrera to come up with discipline for the center fielder. On July 6th, Herrera will conclude his paid administrative leave. The MLB could punish him with an unpaid suspension, as they do have that right as an agreement against domestic abuse with the MLB players association. Herrera’s girlfriend, Melany Martinez-Angulo refused to press charges stemming from an incident in Atlantic City, New Jersey over Memorial Day weekend.

Odubel Herrera’s mugshot.

The perception of the league and the perception of the fans has to match on something like this. The league needs to take a stance where he won’t be able to play for the rest of this season and his contract shouldn’t go against the Philadelphia Phillies because this is his own personal problem. The issue with releasing Herrera is that he is owed $23.7 million through 2021 and that contract cannot be voided as another agreement with the MLB and the MLBPA. If released, the Phillies would still have to pay his salary. This would be a character call on the part of the Phillies organization, releasing a player that shouldn’t play at all because of character issues.

There are other reasons why charges get dropped, especially for domestic abuse cases! An athlete could absolutely pay off the victim to not press charges. This creates a level of privilege that shouldn’t be. An athlete, if guilty, should have to deal with the consequences like the general public. There are women on the wrong side of domestic abuse daily who suffer. Money never fixes any of this. As a human being, I hope for the best in this situation for Martinez-Angulo, and Herrera himself. The best for both of those involved would be that this is an incident that was blown out of proportion. Martinez-Angulo, whatever her reasons are, has decided to not press charges and left court holding Herrera’s hand today. There was not enough independent evidence of assault for the prosecutor to proceed independently of Martinez-Angulo.

Melany Martinez-Angulo could not be cooperating with authorities because of fear of reprisal or having to relive what may have happened over Memorial Day weekend in the courtroom. That is a very real concept on the table. When the incident took place, police reported hand print markings on Martinez-Angulo’s neck and scratches on her arms. It absolutely seems like there was a domestic disturbance, to say the least at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City between Martinez-Angulo and Odubel Herrera. The Philadelphia Phillies in conjunction with the MLB and their investigation with agreements to the MLBPA need to be absolutely careful about what they do next with Herrera.

Odubel Herrera and Melany Martinez-Angulo leave court, holding hands.

As a public relations maneuver, Odubel Herrera was removed from the MLB all-star ballot and away from any banners outside of Citizens Bank Park. It seems that the Philadelphia Phillies are washing their hands of all of this and continuing on with baseball, without Herrera. It’s a smart move. The Phillies fan base above all is all for the love of the sport. If you are an athlete and this is the example you set, you don’t deserve to be rewarded with playing the sport and making the money. When you walk through the ballpark, there are many families who go to baseball games as a tradition. Housing a player for the youth to witness who is caught up in domestic violence is something that cannot be tolerated. A winning baseball team is available this season without Herrera. Let’s not look back.

There is a large demographic of Philadelphia Phillies fans (and just Philadelphia sports fans in general,) who are women. If the Phillies really want to appreciate their fans, take a good stance about what players stay on the roster. Fans shouldn’t have to cheer their team and boo the one guy. Otherwise, these fans won’t show up to games and buy the tickets. The Phillies are a thriving organization right now, and it would be a real shame if they stayed beside Odubel Herrera as the most recent athlete to be in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. If the MLB has an agreement with the MLBPA against domestic abuse, it should be zero tolerance. Since that isn’t the case and discipline is lingering post investigation from the MLB, the Phillies, and Gabe Kapler would have to wait until the MLB is done investigating to make their decision about Herrera.

 Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports