Mike Leake has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of “unauthorized use of property” following his shoplifting arrest last week, agreeing to 30 hours of community service after being charged with stealing $60 worth of shirts from Macy’s.
In addition to the community service attached to what is now a misdemeanor offense, Leake will enter a diversion program, which would eventually allow his record to be wiped clean as a first-rime offender.
Leake had remained silent about the issue since his arrest, but today he told reporters his side of the story:
On April 2, I went into purchase six shirts and they did not fit–wrong size. I proceeded to go to Macy’s and exchange them on my own instead of talking to the clerk. I set the six shirts down and got the correct sizes myself, walked out and they stopped me. I realize how boneheaded of a move that was. It was very wrong and I sincerely apologize. It was a serious lapse in judgment. For that, I will be willing to do anything I have to do
Assuming for a moment that’s true and this whole thing is due to Leake actually paying for shirts and then screwing up his attempt to exchange them for different shirts. Doesn’t it seem odd that he’d be so quick to accept 30 hours of community service and a misdemeanor guilty plea that involves entering into a program? For what he describes as basically being a doofus who doesn’t know how to exchange something at a store?
After all, as Leake explains it that seems like much more misunderstanding than law-breaking and you’d think it never would have gotten this far in the first place. There seems to be a significant disconnect here between the series of events as described by Leake and the reaction of everyone else involved, from Macy’s and police to prosecutors and now Leake himself based on the guilty plea and acceptance of punishment.
From the moment this story broke last week nearly every detail confused me and that remains true following the plea agreement.
Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”
Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”
Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”
Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).
Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.
The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.
To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.
Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.