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Russell, jettisoned.


He was “My Sweet Addy”, the puppy-eyed young shortstop we all loved in the IFHouse. There’s a big-eyed dog sitting on my feet that carries his name and a folder full of memes on my computer that haven’t made it to the recycling bin after the 2016 season.

Who can forget his contribution to the World Series in 2016? The Cubs won that World Series, remember? That grand slam in Game 6 to put us 7 runs over Cleveland in the third inning was pure distilled hope injected directly into our veins when we absolutely needed it.

And then, all through 2017, something was… off. My husband and I would talk about My Sweet Addy, and why his puppy eyes seemed so sad all the time. Where did his energy go? Why is he playing so unlike himself? Oh, he’s going through a divorce? How sad! Sometimes relationships don’t work out. I hope he’s got a lot of love around him through this hard time. Poor Sweet Addy.

When the rumours started – that the divorce was due to domestic violence – I didn’t want to believe it. People run their mouths too much. Our Sweet Addy would never.

And then The Article was released. Mr. IFG found it first. Told me I might not want to read it. That he had only skimmed it, but that it didn’t look good.

I had to read it. I couldn’t deny her the chance to speak.

I’m now staring at my computer, trying to find the words to express how, exactly, I felt upon reading that article; how I can accurately convey how viscerally it affected me. At the risk of being snarked by the dudebros of the internet, I was triggered. I barely squeaked out an “I believe her, every word”, as I handed the iPad back to my husband. I was frozen in a ball in my bed for hours. The tears didn’t stop for days. It absolutely broke my heart that a person I cheered for, cared for, respected, had hurt his own family in the way my family had hurt me.

I’m only one person and my personal feelings aren’t important enough to base roster decisions on, but I’m not alone.

Domestic violence is hardly a problem that is unique to Major League Baseball.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, someone is abused by an intimate partner in the United States every 20 minutes. One in three female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner. One in four women have experienced extreme physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. One in four. Twenty five in a hundred. Wrigley Field seats 41,639 souls. If half of them are women, on a sold out night you’ll have, statistically, 5,205 women who are domestic violence survivors trying their best to enjoy a ballgame. You’ll also see 2,975 men with the same experience. One in seven. That’s 8,180 people, total, in one sold-out game.

By continuing to put Addison Russell on the field, the Cubs have spent the last year telling those thousands of people in the stands that they should be happy to spend their money and time and energy to cheer for someone who caused physical and emotional trauma to someone he pledged to love, honor, and protect.

And I could almost understand it – after all, people dismissing domestic violence against women and children is hardly a new phenomenon – if he were playing baseball well.

But of course, he wasn’t. 2019 saw Addison sailing balls into the stands and bats into the nets. His phoned-in appearances caused far more harm than good, even being lampooned by Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo of the Dodgers mid-game. When questioned about some terrible baserunning performances this past July, Russell told on himself by volunteering he had trouble learning the signs and simply staying focused on the game.

Not exactly what you’d expect to hear from Future MVP Sweet Addy if you went into a coma on November 3th 2016 and woke up July 22nd 2019.

Remember how Cubs Twitter all cheered when Russell was sent down to the minors shortly after that? If he wasn’t going to be straight-up DFA’d, at least those of us watching mainly MLB baseball wouldn’t have to see his face during the games.

And then Javy got hurt, and he was back, and the team had no depth at short and the season imploded, and nothing was ever going to look happy again.

But today. Oh, today, Cubs fans. The tender deadline is upon us, and the blessed, glorious news came that the Cubs have chosen not to offer Addison Russell a major league contract for the 2020 season.

What did it finally take to get the Cubs organization to do what fans have been begging for? A projected $5 million arbitration salary when you’re trying to shed payroll will do it, I suppose.

I’d like to say that the team I’ve loved for so long has chosen to lean into the idea that professional ballplayers should be good athletes and moreso, good people that kids can be proud to aspire to emulating. That they’ve weighed all the facts and found Russell wanting. But if what it really takes a salary crunch to convince them to let him go, well, I’ll take it.

Other writers will wish Russell well in free agency, and they are better people than I.

I’ll be content to never have to see those big puppy dog eyes again. Good bye Jettison, and good riddance. 

Updated: December 2, 2019 — 9:09 pm

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  1. As a Mets fan, I was horrified at the hiring of both Jose Reyes and Jeurys Familia. As Giamatti said, it is a game designed to break your heart, but the teams we love did not have to choose to break them so coldly, so dispassionately, so devoid of humanity. MLB (and all of the major sports) have some serious soul-searching to do in regards to their approaches towards domestic violence. The complacency has gone on for far too long.

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