Domingo Germán won 18 games for the Yankees in 2019, but didn’t pitch for New York last year. Not because of anything to do with coronavirus, but the season was only 60 games long and he still had 63 games to serve on his 81-game suspension for a domestic violence incident late in his breakout season.
Ready to return to action in 2021, Germán faced something unusual in this situation, in the form of a teammate willing to break clubhouse omertà and publicly speak with less than total optimism about his return. Zack Britton, admirably, said last week: “I don’t think he owes anything to me. I think it’s off the field stuff that he needs to take care of. Sometimes you don’t get to control who your teammates are and that’s the situation. I don’t agree with what he did. I don’t think it has any place in the game or off the field or at all.”
So, when Germán met the media on a Zoom call on Wednesday… yeah, he apologized to his teammates, right after his bosses.
“I want to take this opportunity before answering questions to sincerely apologize to the Steinbrenner family, my teammates, the front office, and those around me who love me. I have made mistakes which I am not proud of, and for that I want to apologize,” German said in a prepared opening statement.
Germán didn’t slap a member of the Steinbrenner family at CC Sabathia’s charity gala. He didn’t go home and get violent with his teammates. Nobody in the Yankees’ front office hid in a locked room and had to call another Yankees player to come help. And “those around me who love me” is just a conditional — his apology to them is contingent on their support.
“I want to thank Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman for being so patient with me,” Germán continued. “They have always sincerely tried to help me when I was going through my worst moment. They were there. They went to where I was training in Jupiter, Fla., along with [Yankees pitching coach] Matt Blake and we had a great conversation. For that, I will be eternally grateful to them. I need to show them how committed I am to re-establishing myself as a contributor to this team.”
Germán talked more about how to move forward, “the great damage that can be done when mistakes like mine have been made,” and that “what I want to do now is concentrate on what I love, which is to pitch.”
Conspicuously absent from any of what Germán said — through an interpreter, but still, in a prepared statement — was any specific mention of Mara Vega, the mother of his children and victim of such abuse that MLB suspended Germán for 81 games without a police report even having been filed. Nothing, either, about anyone who might have supported Germán on his way up to the major leagues, and his betrayal of that support with his actions. And nothing about proactive steps to make the world around him better other than the vague warning about “mistakes like mine.”
In a Q&A session, Germán said that he’d benefitted from counseling, that he’d had a positive conversation with Britton, who “gave me really good advice on how I can improve,” and that he and Vega have “talked about it many, many, many times and we promised each other not to ever go through something like this ever again.”
Again, where are the specifics? Where’s even the responsibility for Germán’s actions? Promised to each other not to ever go through something like this ever again? There aren’t two sides that have to make such a promise here. Germán is the one who needs to never do something like this ever again.
Germán did what he had to do to be accepted back in his workplace by people who don’t have a choice about whether or not he’s their colleague, and did enough to appease his bosses. He did nothing to make amends for what he did, only for the consequences of his actions that impacted the Yankees.
- New York Post: Domingo German publicly apologizes for domestic violence incident
- ESPN: New York Yankees’ Domingo German apologizes for domestic violence incident
- Yahoo: Domingo Germán apologizes to Yankees after domestic-violence suspension
So long as this kind of “apology” is allowed to fly, “mistakes” like Germán’s will continue to be handled exactly the same way throughout baseball and the rest of society. That’s not good enough.