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Addison Russell: worse than you thought

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Last year Melisa Reidy-Russell, the ex-wife of Cubs shortstop Addison Russell and the mother of his son, came forward with a blog post detailing years of abuse from Russell. The Cubs placed Russell on administrative leave. Ultimately, Russell agreed to serve a 40-game suspension without pay. The suspension carries over into 2019 as he will miss the first 29 games of the 2019 season.

Today, at the website Expanded Roster, Kelly Wallace tells Melisa Reidy-Russell’s story in painful, painful detail, and it’s even worse than we knew before:

There were other violent acts, threats of violence and what sounds like pervasive emotional abuse and manipulation. That all was in addition to Russell’s serial philandering and lying and his habit of saying that his wife, somehow, made him act that way and was responsible for her own abuse. Taken together, Russell comes off as an utterly horrifying figure who put his wife through a terrible few years.

But that’s not all that has come out about Russell in the past 24 hours.

Mallory Engstrom also has a child with Russell. A daughter, born before Russell’s and Reidy-Russell’s relationship. According to an Instagram post Engstrom published yesterday, Russell is a largely absent father who has attempted to get out of his financial responsibilities to his daughter. Engstrom says, “I’ve never once been able to rely on my daughter’s father to care for her in a time of need or while I am working.” She adds that Russell once paid his child support with $600 worth of quarters and dollar bills despite the fact that he has made millions playing baseball.

Russell, upon the announcement of his suspension last month, issued a prepared statement detailing the steps he was taking to get therapy and own up for his past acts. He also said he was accepting Major League Baseball’s punishment. That statement did not offer up any details, or course.  And Russell had no choice in the punishment, so it’s not like he should be given kudos for “accepting” it.

Either way, the question is no longer “what should Major League Baseball do about Addison Russell.” The league has acted. Now the questions are (a) did Major League Baseball have all of the facts when they acted; (b) if so, was 40 games a big enough penalty; and (c) why are the Cubs sticking with such a terrible human being when they are under no obligation to do so?

Another question: why should any Cubs fan continue to support the team as long as person like that is employed by them? They’re under no obligation to do so either, you know.

Baseball returns: Mariners beat the Athletics in the first official game of the season

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I wake up super early almost every morning. Today was no exception. Unlike most days, however, I had more to look at than my cats and more to do than wait for the sunrise: there was baseball — baseball that counted — on my TV. The Mariners took on the A’s in the Tokyo Dome at 5:30AM — which was 6:30PM, Japan time — in the first official regular season game of the year.

As far as games go it was light on the pitching and, a few dingers aside, was light on excitement, with the Mariners beating the A’s 9-7. But hey, less-than-exciting baseball is better than most things, right?

Oakland jumped out to an early lead thanks to a two-out first inning homer by Stephen Piscotty off of M’s starter Marco Gonzalez. The A’s added a second run in the second thanks to a Chad Pinder single, a throwing error which advanced him to third and a Marcus Semien RBI single.

The top of the third provided some chills: Ichiro, batting ninth for Seattle, came to bat with no one out and a runner on first, facing A’s starter Mike Fiers. Flashbulbs popped and the Tokyo Dome crowd chanted his name. He popped out to the second baseman who caught it in shallow right, sadly, but still got an ovation as he walked to the dugout. One of the more exciting and emotional F4s you’ll see.

At that point the pitching took a powder. Dee Gordon would single in Tim Beckham later that inning to make the game 2-1, the M’s would load the bases and Domingo Santana would hit one out to the opposite field for a grand slam to make it 5-2. In the bottom of the third Khris Davis came up and hit a two-run blast to make it 5-4. They say the pitchers are ahead of the hitters early in the year but, uh, nah. By the way, it was the third straight Opening Day on which Davis has homered. The record is four. Mark your calendars for next year.

Ichiro came up again in the top of the fourth, again with a runner on first, this time facing Liam Hendriks instead of Fiers. He worked a 3-1 count, fouled one off to bring the count full, fouled one off his ankle, which looked like it hurt, fouled one that bounced off his back or arm or something which also looked like it hurt, and then took one in the dirt to draw the walk. Again, a bigger cheer than you get for most walks. Later in the inning Mitch Haniger hit a sac fly to make it 6-4.

The Mariners took the field for the bottom of the fourth. Before the inning began, M’s manager Scott Servais signaled to Ichiro in right, who came running back to the dugout. He was being taken out of the game, replaced by Jay Bruce, who moved out from first base, in such a way as to allow his teammates to give him hugs and to allow the Tokyo crowd to give Ichiro a standing ovation. A nice move from Servais. An 0-for-1, 1BB night on what may very well be the future Hall of Famer’s penultimate game.

Things sort of got out of hand after that. The M’s added three runs in the fifth, two of which came on a Beckham homer. It gave us our first bat flip of the season:

At that point my kids left for school and my wife left for work and the game sort of blended into the background of the morning. Matt Chapman hit a three-run bomb for the A’s in the 7th to make it 9-7, which is a score more appropriate for the glorified spring training game this truly was than a regular season tilt, but such is life. And that, after a couple of scoreless innings, was the ballgame.

It was a game that, in the grand scheme of things, means nothing beyond the stats it created and the smallest of small impacts it will have on season standings that will almost certainly not turn on this game. Which is to say it didn’t matter all that much. It was not a big event. It did not change our day nor impact it beyond the moments of enjoyment and amusement it gave us as it unfolded. It did not insist upon itself like so many games in other sports, TV shows and news events which unfold seem so hellbent on doing.

It just happened. As baseball, when it’s at its best, simply does. Welcome back.