Addison Russell is going to perform shortstop for your Chicago Cubs in 2019, a growth that’s not really altogether amazing and one that lots of still will discover revolting.
Confronted with accusations from ex-wife Melisa Reidy – plus initially, among her buddies – which he was a bodily and psychologically abusive husband or wife, Russell dug in his high heels. He released a strident denial from the well-worn playbook of the arrested and then vanished, a 40-game suspension removing him through the Cubs’ postseason plans, stalling the start of their ’19 strategy and throwing his upcoming with the membership in substantial doubt.
Group and gamer reemerged Fri with their partnership intact, a couple of prepared claims indicating Russell will remain the Cub.
Theoretically, the refined comments might be viewed as the pablum each time a team decides the risk of having a poisonous asset can be outweighed simply by that person’s functionality on the industry.
Yet inside the words associated with club leader Theo Epstein and Russell himself, presently there appeared some thing resembling improvement in sport’s inelegant grappling with the scourge of household violence.
Initial, a moment associated with cynicism: Fri marks the particular deadline with regard to major little league teams in order to tender agreements to arbitration-eligible players. It is easy to surmise the Cubs pondered throwing Russell, viewed the scenery of obtainable shortstops, scoffed at low-ball trade offers and made a decision to keep him.
Easier, still, to imagine Russell backed right into a corner by the Cubs, faced with losing a payday estimated at around $4 million, and suddenly getting a path to redemption.
Russell, but sounded an email of general contrition in his remarks, which included so many basic phrases that accused – or even admitted – abusers fail to find.
“I offer my heartfelt apology to my family and my former wife Melisa for my behavior. ”
“I am responsible for my actions. ”
“I took the extra initiative of obtaining my own therapist … wanting to improve myself by learning new outlooks and understanding different emotions. ”
“I am just in the early stages of this process. ”
As he noted, it’s a start. It’s also a significant departure from Aroldis Chapman’s statement, issued in March 2016 when the Yankees reliever became the first player suspended under MLB’s domestic violence policy: “I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening, ” he said of a night when he fired several shots from a handgun in a garage after a dispute with the mother of his child. “However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to my actions, and for that I am sorry. ”
Chapman went on to note he accepted the ban to “minimize distractions” for teammates and family; there was no contrition toward his girlfriend other than to say that in his eyes, he did her no harm.
Many Cubs fans were understandably unsettled when their team traded for Chapman five months later, disappointed their team chose a World Series at any cost over a sense of propriety.
Epstein made that deal, faced the blowback and then saw Russell – acquired by him in a 2014 trade – face similar accusations.
While Cubs manager Joe Maddon stumbled badly answering the most basic of questions regarding the accusations, Epstein found the right tone from the beginning. He noted Friday that the franchise has maintained “regular dialogue” with Reidy, “to support her and to listen. ”
As low a bar as it is, merely acknowledging a victim exists – saying her name, even – is not insignificant here. Contrast that with the Washington Redskins, who did next to zero meaningful diligence before claiming Reuben Foster on waivers mere days after the former San Francisco 49er was arrested on assault charges the night before a game.
The Redskins doubled down on that Thursday when personnel boss Doug Williams termed the pending matter “small potatoes. ” Williams apologized for those remarks Friday, but the entire process captures the organizational culture and, to some degree, that of the NFL at large.
The Cubs and MLB are far from perfect, of course. Domestic violence issues went largely unpunished in years past and the league crafted its current policy in the wake, not ahead, of the Ray Rice episode in 2014 that the NFL so famously mismanaged.
The policy is intact, however, and to the extent of our public knowledge, functioning. Certainly, there will be more suspensions, and many more tone-deaf responses, and another GM babbling on about character and scrutiny to explain away a win-now transaction – such as the one the Houston Astros made earlier this season when they acquired Toronto Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna.
This time, though, at least we saw a response – from league, player and franchise – that eventually honored Reidy’s courage to come forward. It’s not much, but it feels like a step in the right direction.
Follow Lacques on Twitter @GabeLacques