Josh Lueke

Sorry, I don’t have to appreciate the way Josh Lueke has “persevered”

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Rays’ reliever Josh Lueke was charged with rape, pleaded out to a lesser charge and did 42 days in prison. As far as I’m concerned he’s human garbage, even if some baseball teams think it’s worth still employing him because of his fastball (which hasn’t been able to get anyone out, but that’s another topic).

So forgive me if I’m not on board with a blog post, the premise of which is essentially “Josh Lueke may have raped someone but being good at baseball offers him redemption of some kind.”  Really:

You can hate Josh Lueke’s guts, but you have to appreciate the way he has persevered through the critical mistake he made and all the opportunities that have passed him by … as Lueke finds success for the first time at the major level, we’ll be captivated by his dominating arsenal, and justifiably or not, his past will be forgotten as Rays fans watch him help their team win games.

No, I don’t have to appreciate that at all.

As for the second part: sadly, yes, some people may forget that because as we’ve regrettably learned so often of late, it’s amazing what people will forget or even forgive if you happen to be good at sports. But the truth is that sports are not a vehicle for moral or ethical redemption. They are games, no more, no less, and the noise in the linked post is the logical extension of our society’s fetish for grafting narratives onto said games.

If there is such a thing as redemption for a rapist like Leuke, it comes via one’s acts in the real world. The price they pay. The things they learn. The efforts they make to redress the damage they’ve done and the efforts they make to prevent such damage from being done again. It is measured by the true character of the person, not their athletic accomplishments. I don’t know Lueke or anything else about him besides his rap sheet and his B-R.com page so I’m not the arbiter of his soul, conscience or ethical self, but I do know that flinging a baseball well or even being a good clubhouse citizen — something the author also gives Lueke credit for – is completely irrelevant with respect to that stuff.

As for the author: pro tip: if you ever are again inclined to write something which basically says “this guy may have raped someone but sports …” just stop. Please. Don’t even consider it.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.