Julio Urías: A Star's Fall and MLB's Test of Accountability

Stadium incident puts spotlight on MLB's policy procedures.

by Nouman Rasool
Julio Urías: A Star's Fall and MLB's Test of Accountability
© Harry How/GettyImages

In May 2019, the promising Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías faced an arrest over suspected domestic battery at an L.A. mall's parking lot. While the L.A. city attorney's office opted not to press charges contingent on Urías attending a 52-week domestic counseling program and avoiding any violence for a year, the incident didn't go unnoticed by Major League Baseball.

Urías was hit with a 20-game suspension in alignment with MLB's joint domestic violence policy. The Dodgers, amidst MLB’s disciplinary actions, commended the league’s initiative and expressed optimism that Urías would introspect and evolve.

Urías echoed a similar sentiment. He acknowledged the expectations of exemplary behavior from major league players, emphasizing his commitment to personal growth in every sphere of life.

Urías's Unexpected Downfall

Fast forward to a recent Sunday night, the narrative took another dark turn.

Urías was arrested and faced felony charges over an incident at the BMO Stadium's parking lot during a soccer match featuring Lionel Messi. This arrest reignites MLB's domestic violence policy's procedures: from investigations to potential administrative leave and possible charges, based on the alleged victim's cooperation.

However, this scenario diverges from previous ones, marking Urías as MLB’s first repeated offender under its domestic violence policy. The crux of this policy isn't solely punitive; it aims at victim protection and harmonizing penalty with rehabilitation.

One could argue that the support structures around Urías fell short – the counseling, the representatives, his team, or the league itself. But perspective is essential: at 27, Urías is no longer the young talent the Dodgers discovered in Mexico, nor the 23-year-old whose public indiscretions first raised eyebrows.

The public nature of both incidents casts doubts on Urías' actions outside the limelight. Soon, Urías will grapple with profound professional consequences. Given his preceding achievements – like finishing third in National League Cy Young voting last year, boasting impressive statistics in 2021 and 2022, and playing a pivotal role in the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series win – it was presumed he had evolved.

However, that faith stands shattered. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred now faces a pivotal decision. If the investigation affirms a policy breach, the repercussions for a second offense under the domestic violence policy need determination.

As Urías awaits his day in court on September 27, his future hangs in the balance. Drawing parallels with Trevor Bauer, there's a tipping point where an athlete’s off-field behavior eclipses their talent, alienating fans.

Urías, perhaps, crossed that threshold. His story might not be remembered for his prowess on the mound but as a sobering reminder that rehabilitation isn't always a given.