Addison Russell walked up to the plate to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”

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I have been watching the Pirates-Cubs game at Wrigley Field this afternoon and noticed something odd. When Cubs shortstop Addison Russell walked up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It” played. I wasn’t the only one who found this disconcerting:

I went back to Russell’s previous at-bats this afternoon and, as far as I can tell, his sixth inning at-bat was the only one for which “Beat It” was played.

Russell was accused of domestic violence last year, which spurred an investigation by Major League Baseball. It didn’t go far, as Russell’s wife refused to speak to MLB. Instead, she filed for divorce and her attorney released a statement saying, “It is her desire to pursue a resolution that is, first and foremost, in the best interest of the parties’ son, and which occurs in a swift, amicable, and private fashion.”

As we have mentioned before when these unfortunately common incidents occur, victims of domestic violence sometimes refuse to cooperate with authorities for a variety of reasons, one of which includes fear of revenge from the abuser. Just because MLB’s investigation didn’t go far doesn’t necessarily absolve Russell of blame. We can’t convict him in a court of law, but we can still condemn him in the court of public opinion.

All of this is why the choice to play “Beat It” before his sixth inning at-bat on Tuesday — whether chosen by Russell or the stadium DJ — is in bad taste. This isn’t the only time that’s happened, either. Back in August 2016, the Cubs fired their then-DJ who played the song “Smack My B***h Up” for then-closer Aroldis Chapman, who was also accused of domestic violence.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2016 that Major League Baseball had the smallest share of female fans of any major sport. Incidents like this are why. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey from the CDC, nearly one in four women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Baseball keeps telling women it finds their issues unimportant or funny rather than serious.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.