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.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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