Josh Lueke

Josh Lueke is a rapist. How often does that bear repeating?

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Roy Hobbs said that some mistakes you never stop paying for. Maybe it should be that way. In terms of social stigma, at least, if not in terms of actual punishment. That’s what Rays’ reliever Josh Lueke — who plead down sexual assault charges to a false imprisonment with violence conviction — has learned over the years.

He has learned that no matter how long ago you paid the criminal price for your actions — in his case an extremely light 42 days in jail for what were undeniably odious and criminal actions which can only be logically defined as rape even if they were legally characterized as something less — people may still hold you socially accountable for many more years. This we have come to see with websites, with ballpark signs and with chants by fans whenever he comes into games. We have also seen it in the form of responses to those who would ask that we stop talking about Lueke’s history and instead marvel at how he has “persevered” through “adversity.”

Of late, a number of people have taken to pointing out on Twitter, each and every time Lueke comes into a game, that he is, indeed, a rapist. Of late a number of other people have responded that that first group of people should just drop it already and stop mentioning that fact. They do so less as a defense of Lueke’s tender sensibilities — as far as I’ve seen he ignores it and none of those who wish the matter would be dropped online are actually defending Lueke personally — than as an exclamation of the pointlessness of constantly mentioning it or, in some cases, as a matter of mental fatigue at having to discuss it all again.

It’s an interesting little debate, but one which Stacey Mae Fowles — a rape survivor — sees as not so little at all. Today she writes at Deadspin about why it’s necessary to remind baseball fans of Josh Lueke’s past:

Because most survivors never have the opportunity to name their attackers, I have to disagree with the suggestion that tweeting is a futile endeavor—naming Lueke is most certainly accompanied by its own sense of empowerment. My own fear may prevent me from calling out my attacker in a public forum, but at least I can remind the baseball community that we have failed victims every time Lueke comes up to pitch. The fact that others don’t see it as a meaningful action is entirely meaningless to me. You can volunteer and you can donate money, but the most significant acts when it comes to dismantling a culture that forgives rape is to name those who commit it and support those who endure it. The irritation this man faces each time the chorus of condemnation rises is wholly insignificant when held up against the plight of survivors, and it may be wise for those who dismiss the messages as a “waste of time” to think for a moment that rape victims might have different thoughts on what does and doesn’t constitute a waste of time.

Is it unfair to Lueke? Not in any way I can see. He is not subject to any more criminal sanctions nor, per our Constitution, should he be. But nor is he immune from criticism for his past. And more importantly, nor is society immune from reminders of how poorly we have dealt with rape as a crime, treated some rapists as something less than criminals and done grave disservices to rape victims as people suffering from trauma and often forced to endure more after the crime has already taken place.

I don’t beat the Lueke drum that often because there are plenty of people who do so who are more informed and in a better position to do it. But I don’t begrudge Stacey and anyone else who does.

Go read her post. Read it all before commenting. And think about it a bit before you do.

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.