Baker facing nine-game ban - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Baker facing nine-game ban

By Roger Vaughan and Adam Cooper 28/06/2010 10:28:57 PM Comments (0)

Hard man Steven Baker faces suspension until the AFL finals as St Kilda and Geelong pay a heavy price for their bruising grand final rematch.

The match review panel came down hard on Friday night's MCG clash, citing St Kilda's Baker for four separate incidents against his Cats opponent Steve Johnson.

In a penalty that stunned St Kilda, Baker, well-known as a physical defender, will be suspended for nine games - the rest of the home and away season - if he takes early pleas on the charges.

He faces a maximum ban of 12 matches if he goes before the tribunal on each charge and has no success, which would mean his season would be all but over.

A nine-game ban would be the biggest suspension since Brisbane full-forward Alastair Lynch was outed for 10 games for three incidents during the 2004 grand final against Port Adelaide.

Baker's collective penalty would also be the most severe since the current tribunal system started in 2005.

Baker and Johnson were caught on television clashing several times during the match.

Johnson is also facing a total suspension of four matches after the panel charged him with two striking offences against Baker.

Geelong's serial tribunal offender Cameron Mooney is in the bad books again, facing a two-match ban for striking Saints defender Jason Blake.

One of the charges against Baker is effectively a crackdown on players trying to take advantage of opponents' injuries.

After Johnson broke his hand early in the match, Baker was seen hitting the injured area.

Baker was charged with misconduct "in that he made unreasonable and unnecessary contact with an injured player".

Richmond key forward Jack Riewoldt was also caught on video in round nine trying to hit the forearm of Essendon opponent Tayte Pears.

It was Pears' first game back from a broken arm and the panel took no action over the incident.

Baker also faces three striking charges against Johnson.

The Saint was suspended for seven matches in 2007 for rough conduct against Melbourne forward Jeff Farmer.

Baker's teammates were shocked by the panel's findings.

"Initially it was just shock," acting captain Lenny Hayes told the Ten Network.

"Then you feel disappointment for Bakes because I'm a great mate of his and have played footy with him for 10 years and I know how much time and effort he puts into his footy and the way he prepares.

"You're just looking for a bit of consistency ... it just seems to be quite inconsistent with some of the findings they (the panel members) come with up.

Midfielder Brendon Goddard threw his support behind Baker.

"It's obviously disappointing to lose a player of his calibre, if it may (happen), for (up to) 12 weeks," Goddard told Fox Sports.

"But if I can say anything, Bakes plays his footy hard and tough and uncompromising and we love having him in our team."

One of Johnson's blows left Baker with a cut above his left eye which required stitches.

Johnson had a pin inserted in his broken hand on Monday, but the Cats said the injury happened in general play and not because of the clashes with Baker.

The panel was criticised last week for clearing Carlton captain Chris Judd of contact with Fremantle counterpart Matthew Pavlich.

The blow left a gash on Pavlich's cheek that needed stitches, but the panel ruled that the force of the impact was not severe enough to constitute a strike.

Under complicated tribunal guidelines, the penalties for Baker and Johnson were calculated using their demerit points.

After Baker's bad record is taken into account, he receives a total of 1200 points - or 900.02 if he accepts the charges.

Each 100 points is worth a one-game suspension.

Similarly, Johnson has a total of 537.50 points for the two charges once 93.75 carry-over points are added for a round-four tripping offence against Port's Travis Boak.

But the total is reduced to 403.12 if Johnson does not challenge the charges.

Mooney risks a three-game suspension if he takes his charge to the tribunal and is unsuccessful.

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