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The Cubs are making a mistake in standing by Addison Russell

Theo Epstein is spinning this off as a learning exercise, standing by his player and starting a conversation about domestic violence.
Credit: Jake Roth

ST. LOUIS — Don't put your hands on a woman in an abusive fashion. It's one of the oldest rules in the book of living. Something as simple as keeping your hands off a hot stove or tying your shoes.

While this human act of decency is vital to every living person, it is especially profound for an individual playing a game that is being watched by millions of people, including young children and teenagers.

Addison Russell physically abused his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, countless times over years, as documented in Gordon Wittenmyer's article in the Chicago Sun Times this week. Reidy recounted the Chicago Cubs shortstop's actions in a report published this week on Expanded Roster. Reidy was thrown to the ground, tackled on concrete, and abused by Russell in front of their son. Does this sound like someone you want on your team representing your brand?

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The Cubs are making a huge mistake in not only tendering Russell a contract for the 2019 season, but standing by him publicly. Theo Epstein is spinning this off as a learning exercise, standing by his player and starting a conversation about domestic violence. Correction: You start the conversation by refusing to employ a known woman-abuser. The team saw these reports this week from Reidy and didn't move to release him or distance themselves from Russell's situation.

You see, the Cubs have been here before with Aroldis Chapman. The first World Series title in Chicago in over 100 years was more important to the Cubs than integrity with Chapman, who abused his girlfriend almost as much as he abused Major League hitters during the 2016 postseason. Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired gunshots in the garage next to his home. The Cubs didn't care. They turned their head the other way, and are doing the same thing with Russell.

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If St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations, John Mozeliak, did this, the entire league and every National sportswriter (not just Deadspin) would broil the Cardinals executive. There'd be no end to the torment, and for good reason. While the National and local reaction to The Cubs' decision hasn't been met with empathy and support, it's not exactly red hot either.

Here's the thing. Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. wouldn't employ Russell. No way. They simply wouldn't do it. If this kind of report came out tomorrow about Matt Carpenter or Marcell Ozuna, the team would release them. That is my firm belief. I've watched these two men work for a long time and I can assure you it wouldn't happen.

This is not a player smoking too much weed or getting into a fight outside a nightclub with another man. This is pure abuse that the league suspended Russell 40 games for.

I'm not broiling a Cubs player for fun; this is taking a bad person to task. If a Cardinal did this, I'd burn him as well. If another player did this, the same treatment would follow. This is not about what is suitable and what is passable in our modern culture; this is simple right and wrong. Russell did some terrible things, and the only reason he hasn't been kicked to the curb is more than likely due to the fact there's no video of his actions. Still, the Cubs should do the right thing and cut bait.

Sometimes, decency needs to be shown and justice should be served. Epstein and the Cubs are sending the wrong message by standing by Russell. Swift dismissal would have driven the point home at a far less cost in public relations campaigning.

By keeping him employed, Epstein and the Cubs are condoning what Russell did. They are deeming it acceptable by their standards. The team can put out all the fires and say they are standing up to domestic violence and abuse, but their actions don't match their words.

Shame on you, fellas, for not remembering one of the oldest rules in the book.

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