Following up on the Mike Leake arrest

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I think the strangest thing arising out of the Mike Leake shoplifting arrest yesterday is not the fact that a man who makes over $400,000 a year and recently got a $2 million signing bonus felt it necessary to steal. Rather, the strangest thing is that he somehow got caught stealing “six shirts worth $59.88.”  Upon seeing this, some people suggested that it was an elaborate ploy by Macy’s to publicize just how affordable their merchandise truly is.

Thankfully today we have clarity on this important point: they were American Rag pocket t-shirts. They normally retail for $14.50, but were apparently on sale for $9.98.  Macy’s was virtually giving them away! Any less and you’d practically be stealing from them! Wait. Bad choice of words.

Anyway, as Hal McCoy notes this morning, Leake got a paycheck for $40K on Friday and the Reds’ clubhouse manager probably would have given Leake six shirts for free if he had asked.  All of which makes me wonder what the hell was going on here. Leake isn’t an actor so he can’t play the “I was researching a role” card. He’s not as cute as Winona Ryder, so there likely won’t be any “Free Mike” t-shirts printed up.  It all just makes me wonder if there isn’t some sort of mental issue or impulse control problem or existential crisis or something like which explains this.  Remember Jeff Reardon’s thing? Not all property crime is about greed or possessions. Sometimes it’s just an outlet.

As for the more pedestrian explanations, the Reds and Leake issues the following statements last night. Via Mark Sheldon at MLB.com, here’s the Reds:

“On behalf of the Cincinnati Reds organization, at this time we are advised to not publicly address this matter because of the pending legal proceedings. However, we do not condone behavior of the type alleged, which is wholly inconsistent with the principles of this organization and our community and is detrimental to the positive direction we seek to follow. When the legal process has been completed, we will handle this matter internally.”

And Leake’s statement:

“Today, Mike Leake was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of theft from the Macy’s store downtown.  Right now, he has been advised by his attorney to offer no further statements on this matter. This case will proceed in the justice system, where Mike’s story will be told. Until that time, there will be nothing further from Mike on this episode until the court proceedings have concluded. However, Mike wishes to apologize to his family, the fans, Mr. Castellini, Walt, Dusty, his teammates and the entire Reds organization for this distraction.”

Leake pitches on Thursday.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.