On Friday May 3rd, the Chicago Cubs shortstop’s, Addison Russell, 40 game suspension for domestic violence against his ex wife Melisa Reidy ended.
Reidy was initially hesitant to cooperate with the Major League Baseball’s investigation in 2017, but changed her mind toward the end of last season. Instead of being added the the Cubs major league roster, he was optioned to the team’s AAA affiliate in Iowa City. Russell will get some work at second base before being called up due to Javier Baez’s defensive performance at shortstop. However, both the Cubs and Major League Baseball poorly mishandled Russell’s situation when the allegations of domestic violence became public and have not handled his suspension well either.
Mishandling By Major League Baseball
One of the biggest problems with this suspension was that it was only 40 games, only equivalent to ¼ of the season. In comparison to football, players accused of domestic violence have been suspended for anywhere from 2 games (initial suspension for Ray Rice) to lifetime bans. The policy was updated in 2014 in response to Rice’s case. In comparison to other violations in baseball, this is small compared to marijuana suspensions. Players like Alex Reyes and Forrest Whitley have received 50 game suspensions for smoking marijuana.
Chicago Cubs’ Mishandling
The Cubs have been criticized multiple times for their handling of players with a history of domestic violence. Despite the Cubs’ President Theo Epstein claiming in a February statement that the Cubs hold a high standard for Russell, fans of several teams criticized the organization for their acquisition of Aroldis Chapman at the 2016 trade deadline. Chapman was suspended at the start of that season for domestic violence issues.
After Russell’s suspension was announced on November 30, 2018, Epstein and Russell issued statements and Epstein said the team decided to offer him a contract, another move that was heavily criticized, especially by Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun Times. Another bad move by the Cubs after the allegations broke out in 2017 was allowing Russell to have his walk up song be Beat It by Michael Jackson.
The Cubs and Reporters
The Cubs’ biggest sin in handling Russell’s return involves the media. According to The Big Lead, Sheryl Ring of Fangraphs tweeted that the Cubs were attempting to control the narrative about Russell and were going after journalists who criticized the Cubs’ approach as well as Russell. Posted below is a screenshot of Ring’s tweet, her account is now private.
One example of a journalist facing these repercussions is Bob Nightengale, who was criticized for this article even though there wasn’t any mention of the allegations against him.
If these allegations against the Cubs turn out to be true it will be another stain of how badly they have handled this situation. Despite the talent that Russell has it would be wise for both the team and the player to move on from each other. However, the next question would be which team would be willing to take the public relations hit and whether they are ready to face the same scrutiny the Cubs are facing. No matter what happens next, the Cubs need to show some transparency, and, if Russell has another domestic violence incident that is proven true, his baseball career needs to be over.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.