Enraged over MLB’s recent decision to suspend Boston’s Kevin Youkilis and Detroit’s Rick Porcello for 5 games apiece, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz (above) insists “an equal penalty for these two very different offenses was outrageous…the message conveyed by Major League Baseball, even if unintended, is that it pays for a pitcher to throw at a superstar.”  From a Dershowitz editorial in the August 19 Boston Globe (link swiped from The Big Lead).

If this continues, someone will be maimed or killed, despite the presence of helmets. The time has come for Major League Baseball to ban the bean ball. The only way to do this is for baseball to adopt a zero tolerance policy and to impose draconian sanctions not only on pitchers who throw at the heads of batters but, more importantly, on the managers who instruct them to do so. A manager cannot order a pitcher to accidentally hit a batter. Anytime a manager instructs a pitcher to throw at the head of a batter, he has committed the serious crime of reckless endangerment or assault with a lethal weapon. Baseball cannot tolerate such criminality.

The minimum penalty for a manager must be suspension for an entire season, perhaps even for life. For the pitcher, suspension for the season should be mitigated only if the pitcher turned in the manager. There should also be penalties for any baseball player who hears the manager or coach order the beaning of a player without reporting it.

There will be problems of proof in some cases but once Major League Baseball has determined that the decision was a deliberate one, the punishment must fit the crime. It did not do so in the Youkilis-Porcello situation.