The Clark Suspension

“Clark will serve the nine-game suspension throughout the remainder of the 2007 regular season, MLS Cup playoffs and into the 2008 Regular Season until the nine MLS games are complete.”

It’s official: the Houston Dynamo’s Ricardo Clark picked up the biggest suspension/fine combo I’ve ever seen; I don’t see anything in the release, or elsewhere, on punishment for Carlos Ruiz.

So, what are people’s thoughts on this? If you think the suspension is too high, at least the $10,000 fine won’t put too much strain on Clark’s reported $195,000 pay-check (details here). But no playoffs for Clark means there’s no question in my mind the player is being punished; there’s also no question the Houston Dynamo get caught up in that. Given all that, then, is Don Garber’s version of justice too much, too little, or just right?

UPDATE: It occurs to me I ought to say what I think. If interpreted as a form of protest against Carlos Ruiz’, um, on-field tactical decisions, I think Clark’s kick draws a lot of sympathy. But the way he did it – wailing away in front of god, Don Garber, and everybody – gave the league very little choice. In that sense, it fits; a statement really does have to be made. In terms of justice – and, here, I’m speaking more personally than practically – I accept that Ruiz is definitely dirty, but he’s rarely outright vicious, so I think the punishment fits well enough. I have, literally, never seen something so blatant that it can only be called an attack.

UPDATE II: It seems fair to give a dissenting view some pride of place. Sure, it’s an interested opinion – being the Houston Offside and all that – but it’s also a respectable case for casting Ruiz as the villain, or, at very least, seeing that he burns along with Clark.

UPDATE III: For the sake of equal time, Sideline Views posted an unequivocal defense of the MLS Commish Garber’s suspension…this makes me feel like a weenie.

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5 Responses

  1. I don’t want to sound like a Dallas apologist but the crime fits the punishment in my mind…you simply can’t kick a man when he is down like that, even if he is annoying and dirty as Carlos Ruiz. Garber handled this very well I think because this didn’t make mainstream media. I doubt the league wanted this kind of press about a player kicking another player in this fashion on the news everywhere. Just my two cents.

  2. This is absolutely ridiculous. If Garber ever wants anyone to take MLS seriously, he needs to be consistent when it comes to this type of thing. What Sala did was 3 times worse then Clark but he gets 2/3 of the punishment? Bullshit. Half of people seem shocked by what they can only imagine was a hard kick (but then Ruiz goes and uses that same arm to fake a head wound? yeah right). I can only hope Rico appeals this crap.

  3. Fair point, Tim. But, as I’m reading the situation, I don’t think the force of the kick is the central issue: it was the intent, what happens when a player wades in swinging. And while it’s absolutely clear to all observers that Ruiz played the head angle not just for all it was worth, but poorly, if I’m judging this I’m not worried about the extent to which Ruiz gets hurt, but with the recklessness of Clark’s foul and the anger that informed it.

  4. I think it was a harsh judgement, but I’m not prepared to say it was unjustified or an overreaction. I just want a little justice.

    If retaliation if bad, which everyone agrees upon, then instigation for tactical advantage should be equally as bad, especially if said instigation is also about getting the other person punished for the to-come retaliation.

    In the law, premeditation is punished more harshly than “crimes of passion”. One could argue that retaliation, though extremely unprofessional and unacceptable, is a crime of passion and instigation is premeditation.

    I don’t so much care that Rico got the full force of the law brought upon him so much as Ruiz has, so far, gotten nothing except the in-game suspension. Does kneeing a guy in the back, landing on him, and then faking an injury count only for what the ref gave him in the game?

    If that’s true, then I think it sends the wrong signal: do what you can to piss other other guy off because he’ll get smashed like a bug and you’ll win an advantage for your team during the game (and in this case, for the playoffs as well). That is just plain wrong.

    Thanks, Jeff, for the blog.

  5. Dang me, I’m a mush-mouthed twit. I’m trying so damn hard to strike a balance that I’m either omitting or soft-pedaling a clear position. So, in bullet-style, here it is:

    – I”m fine with Clark’s suspension, even the fine. I would also be comfortable with the remainder of the 2007 season and the same fine. Hell, I’d take six games, a “don’t do this kids, PSA,” etc.

    – Ruiz ought to burn as well. How much, though, is an open question – and I write that while holding the opinion that the regular two-game suspension isn’t nearly enough. As much as I really dig Nathanhj’s premeditation/crime-of-passion analogy, WV Hooligan’s view that this is part of the game, even if it’s an entirely unlovable one, persuades me on this count. Figuring intent – at least in nearly all cases BUT this one – is really, really hard. If Clark’s foul was assault (and I think it was), what Ruiz did readily falls under reckless endangerment. So, yeah, Ruiz should catch hell, too. Let’s say, oh, five games – just over half – and fine him while you’re at it.

    Feel free to call me crazy.

    And, Nathan, you’re welcome.

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