Acknowledging that it is a challenge to provide this information in the “right” way, I nevertheless think it’s important to hear from a few people involved in this situation when they speak: (1) Melisa Reidy, Addison Russell’s ex-wife, whose revelations of alleged abuse led to his agreed-to suspension under the domestic violence policy; (2) Theo Epstein, the President of the Cubs, who has invited the scrutiny associated with making the decision to retain Russell and use this as an opportunity to improve the organization’s treatment of domestic violence; and (3) Russell, himself, to the extent he chooses to speak directly on the allegations, his process since then, and the issue of domestic violence.
To that end, each of Reidy and Epstein recently spoke at length on the topic, and I want to share their comments, which provide additional perspective on what is happening. I don’t want to say this should inform how you feel about the situation, but I will say for me, personally, Reidy’s words carry a whole lot of weight, and Epstein’s discussion of what the Cubs are trying to do organizationally is important to me.
First, from Reidy, recently posted as comments on her Instagram page:
“thank you all sm for all the support ♥️ To be honest, I don’t keep up with all the torment Addison is receiving… the purpose of sharing my story was to be a light for others going through relatable experiences. It still blows my mind that it was able to touch so many.
– I 100% understood that Addison would receive an ocean of judgement. During that time in my life, I was finding my voice & finally beginning to put myself first for once instead of Addison, his career & his reputation. I owed it to myself & I will always stand by my decision.
– With that being said, I still strongly believe that we all deserve grace & a chance to prove & work towards being a better version of ourselves…. & if someone is willing to take accountability of their actions && full on face the brutal the consequences… I feel at some point there’s gotta be an end to the degradation. Im not at all condoning his actions. Somewhere in life even the best of us can lose our way & become someone they aren’t proud of being. I know I have && God showers every single one of us with grace, forgiveness & unfailing love, daily…”
A very gracious perspective, given what Reidy has been through. We should all strive to put that much care and consideration into the things that we say, and do, and choose to be. I can’t imagine it’s easy, and I appreciate Reidy sharing these thoughts with those of us who are following this process from the outside.
Second, from Epstein, comments in this extremely thoughtful and detailed piece from Patrick Mooney:
Are the Cubs part of the problem or the solution? Analyzing Theo Epstein's nuanced approach to the Addison Russell case, with insight from domestic violence experts and details on the team's outreach efforts: https://t.co/9ZXvZ0UIEI
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) May 10, 2019
There is a great deal of discussion in there from domestic violence experts, and more on what the Cubs have done for their employees through this process. Please read it if you care at all about this topic.
“When we made that commitment to try to be a small part of the solution, again, it wasn’t just for Addison and Melisa and the people in Addison’s life,” Epstein told Mooney. “It was also a commitment to try to become a better, healthier, safer organization and to do what we could – a small part – in trying to make progress with this plague of domestic violence in our society.”
Organizations prior to the Cubs tend not to have taken quite this same deep and public approach, for the player or the organization itself. And, like I’ve said all along, I do appreciate the intention behind what the Cubs are trying to do. I think it has become more clear as time has gone on that doing all this just to hang onto a suspended player – one who is right now, and who projects to be, a marginal contributor – would be as egregious a baseball mistake as it would have been a humanitarian mistake. That’s not to say there is absolutely no baseball/business calculation in what the Cubs have done, or that they’ve made a good decision here, but it does suggest to me that they are sincere in their intention.
“The outcome that we’re most invested in is Addison’s growth as a person, and the relationships and environment that he helps create with the people in his life, especially his partner or former partners and his children,” Epstein continued. “We take seriously our role in trying to help him so that he can have healthier relationships, and the people around him can benefit from a more mature Addison Russell and an Addison Russell who’s healing and growing. That’s not something that we can control. But we certainly can put our best efforts forward.
“We can do everything we can to help him and help the people in his life. I feel good about how we’ve done that. There’s no way to guarantee an outcome here. But we can be thoughtful and we can be thorough and we can do everything within our power to help him in the most important task of his life, which is to grow from this and make sure that he has healthy, functional, mature relationships with the important people in his life, and that he’s the best possible dad for his children. At this early date, we’ve seen some growth in those areas. That’s really, really nice to see, but it doesn’t mean this process is over. Far from it. There’s a lot of work ahead for Addison (and) we look forward to continuing to do everything we can to support him along the way, and most importantly support the people in his life.”
There are no obvious answers or approaches or feelings in this situation, and I think folks are free to feel a range of ways about all of this.
I’m still wrestling with what I think. I suppose I feel a little less troubled by seeing Russell’s name on the roster after Reidy’s comments? I would still prefer he were traded, all else equal, but the reality is that he’s on the Cubs right now, and they feel they are doing the right thing working with him on his process, and also letting him contribute to the team. I hope the work continues, and I hope he plays well. I think I’m on sure footing there.