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Cubs alleged to threaten writers who criticize Addison Russell; Cubs dispute report

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Editor’s Note: This post has been updated. 

Cubs shortstop Addison Russell is currently at Triple-A getting into game shape before becoming eligible to rejoin the major league squad on May 3 following a 40-game suspension. Russell was suspended for the final 11 games of the 2018 season and the first 29 games of the 2019 season under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

Russell’s ex-wife Melisa Reidy came forward with allegations of domestic abuse in June 2017. She publicized elaborate details last year as well. The whole situation was even worse than we could have thought. MLB investigated the issue as soon as Reidy came forward and kept the investigation open.

The Cubs have not handled the Russell situation well at all. They allowed Russell to walk up to the song “Beat It” by Michael Jackson in April last year. Manager Joe Maddon really couldn’t have cared less about Russell’s wrongdoing. The Cubs chose to tender Russell a contract in the offseason, paying him $4.3 million this season.

Sheryl Ring of FanGraphs, who is also a lawyer, has allegedly spoken to a member of the media who alleged that the Cubs privately instructed that person to lay off Russell, allegedly threatening reprisal. The Cubs, meanwhile, are approving stories that paint Russell in a positive light, particularly in terms of redemption. One that comes to mind is an article published last week by Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. Nightengale minimizes Russell’s behavior and sets him up as a fallen hero. Others have said they have heard the same as Ring, including Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus. (After publishing this on Sunday night, I received another confirmation of Ring’s report from another member of the media who wishes to keep their name private.)

The Cubs dispute the report and call it unfounded. They note Russell was made available to the press last Thursday without preset conditions.

If true, this is a gross abuse of power on the part of the Cubs, though it falls in line with the absurd way the organization has handled the Russell situation from day one. It’s also the same organization that willingly acquired reliever Aroldis Chapman after he was accused of domestic violence. The Cubs don’t have a good track record on this issue.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.