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May 7, 2007 at 4:40 PM

Mateo speaks, apologizes

Mariners relief pitcher Julio Mateo has finally spoken about his arrest and assault charge and is offering little in the way of a defense.
Here is the statement, put out by the team moments ago.
“I am personally embarassed by the incident on Saturday morning, which resulted in my arrest and absence from the team,” Mateo said. “I recognize that I have also embarassed my wife and family, my teammates and the entire Mariners organization in front of our fans. Without getting into detail, I understand that my behavior was inappropriate. I am very sorry for this and want to apologize to all of them.
“I cannot comment on what has been reported since there is a criminal case pending,” Mateo added. “But I have pledged to the Mariners to begin personal counselling immediately to help address any issues that I may have. Beyond stating again my deepest regrets, I cannot comment further.”
Since Mateo can’t comment and won’t get “into detail” about what exactly he’s apologizing for, we’ll allow the exact Manhattan DA’s office criminal complaint, which I have a copy of and am looking at this very moment, to fill in the gaps.
That statement says that Mateo’s wife, Aurea, was assaulted by her husband and that he “did punch her in the eye, choke her, and bit her lip causing a large cut requiring at least five stitches to close the cut.”
Let’s not forget, this is about a victim. Not a baseball player or a team struggling to repair a damaged image.
The ballclub has apparently decided to take action without having to wait for a trial, guilty plea, or anything else. Here’s team president Chuck Armstrong weighing in with a written statement of his own:
“The Seattle Mariners as an organization deplores domestic violence,” Armstrong states. “There is simply no excuse for it. Over the years we have endeavored to be at the forefront of efforts to confront and eradicate domestic violence.”
Armstrong goes on to say: “Because a criminal prosecution is underway in New York, the legal process limits our ability to comment further. However, we have encouraged Julio to cooperate with the authorities there and he has.”
Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi added: “I met with Julio this morning along with Rafael Colon, one of our team counselors. It is clear to me that Julio is very aware of the gravity of the situation. I discussed with him how seriously the club takes these charges and how low our tolerance is relative to this alleged behavior. Julio is contrite and acknowledges he has personal issues for which he needs professional help, which he has requested. Along with the punishment we are levying against Julio we feel it is our responsibility to respond to his request for help, provide that help and aid in returning an improved person to our community.”
So, that’s the gist of it. My reaction? Mateo is lucky to be getting help. It’s more than his wife got from anyone that night in the hotel until it was too late. As for the “alleged behavior” can we just drop the pretense? Bavasi isn’t “punishing” Mateo and offering counseling to him because of “alleged” anything. Mateo isn’t apologizing because he is “alleged” to have misbehaved. He is admitting he did something wrong. The Mariners know he did something wrong.
I understand Mateo doesn’t want to plead guilty to anything in public right now and ruin his chance to get a more lenient court result later on than the maximum one year in prison he now faces. He is simply covering his butt as his lawyer has instructed. The Mariners are going along with that plan and that’s their perogative.
But we don’t have to.
If we’re going to be asked by a ballplayer to print an apology, then we shouldn’t have to pretend he is apologizing for stuff he may or may not have done. That’s just ridiculous. So, there it is. No “alleged” to lessen the impact. No pretense.



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