Colorado’s Brian Mullan gets a 10-game suspension for breaking Steve Zakuani’s leg.
Chivas USA’s Marcos Mondaini gets four games (plus $1,500) for breaking Javier Morales’ leg.
Conclusion: Mullan’s foul was exactly 2.5 times worse. Or, perhaps the disciplinary committee was 2.5 times more pissed off the day it met to consider the Mullan issue. I mean, heavy traffic on the way to the office can do that to some people. At any rate, we have assigned a numerical value to the broken legs and terrible tackles, so there’s that.
Clearly, the calculus of all this isn’t so cut and dried. As I like to say, this ain’t checkers, it’s chess, and there are a lot of factors at work here, including the front end of an extended campaign to reduce thuggish play in MLS.
But MLS didn’t get this one right.
I think it’s hard to say whether they got it right with Mullan. As I said before, MLS needed to set an example. The league needed to demonstrate that it was serious about clamping down on the overly physical crap, on the kind of potentially injurious actions that can jeopardize careers and dent the overall quality of MLS matches.
So, if that’s the big plan, then I don’t have a problem with Mullan’s 10-game suspension. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, as they say.
But Mullan’s lengthy suspension loses some of its punch when you don’t throw the book at the next guy, too. You make an example of Mullan, then you let the next guy off lightly? What message is that sending to those who would do harm?
I really believed that Mullan’s 10-game ban (damn near a third of the season) and $10,000 fine would make MLS players think twice about launching themselves in reckless, overly aggressive ways. A second punitive volley from the heavy artillery would drive home the point. Instead, the secretive MLS disciplinary committee that bloodied Mullan swats Mondaini with a newspaper and then heads out for lunch. Tex-Mex, anyone?
Mondaini’s tackle was stupid. But it didn’t appear as reckless, and it wasn’t born of frustration the way Mullan’s was. So, it didn’t need to be 10-games … but it needed to be a little closer. I’d say, something in the 6-8 range would have been more appropriate.
The danger of Mullan’s 10-game suspension was always the precedent. I’ve said and written that several times now. I guess I just didn’t consider the wishy-washy factor. That is, you’re not really setting a precedent, per se, if you don’t mind being seen as unfair and inconsistent.
Good thing they protect the identity of the disciplinary committee. Because I suspect those guys would be getting beaten up pretty good in the blogosphere right now.