As you have no doubt heard by now, Addison Russell finds himself embroiled in a pretty unsavory situation that includes allegations of infidelity and even domestic violence. The source of the ongoing kerfuffle that has taken social media by storm was an Instagram post by Russell’s wife, Melisa, who captioned a picture with: “Being free to be able to make your own choices for your own happiness beats being cheated on, lied to, & disrespected any day,” adding the hashtags #herestonewbeginnings and #onlygetsbetterfromhere.
Had it stopped there, the online community probably would have been content to pooh-pooh this as yet another case of a philandering professional athlete, asking what else you’d expect from a guy who already had two kids at only 22 years of age. Despite the problems I’ve got with such a line of reasoning, it’s not all that incendiary. Nor is it completely unexpected, as reports that the Cubs had talked with Russell about his off-field behavior date back to a least prior to last season.
But when a few vitriolic troglodytes decided to go after Mrs. Russell in comments to her post, one of her friends chose to speak out support, making allegations that the Cubs shortstop had mentally and physically abused his wife. The comments were quickly removed and the initial post has since been deleted, but not before it created a firestorm that has reached the commissioner’s office.
It might seem odd for MLB to look into allegations made via social media, but Rays catcher Derek Norris is currently under investigation after his ex-fiance claimed in an Instagram post that Norris had put her in a choke hold and grabbed her by the back of her hair. Initial reports said that baseball has opened an investigation into the allegations of Russell’s misdeeds, though The Score’s Bruce Levine has been told that they are simply “looking into the situation” at this point.
WSCR's @MLBBruceLevine was told by MLB source, "They're looking into the (Russell) situation. There is no 'investigation' right now."
— Spiegel & Parkins (@Spiegel_Parkins) June 8, 2017
There’s still a whole lot more to unravel here and we’ll continue to update this post, so check back for more as the story develops.
A joint piece from Paul Sullivan and David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune indicates that the Cubs may have initiated the dialogue with MLB as it pertains to the league looking into allegations.
MLB has spoken with the Cubs about the allegation, [MLB vice president Patrick Courtney] said.
The Cubs reached out to the league Thursday morning after domestic-violence allegations were made against Russell via social media Wednesday night by a woman who claimed to be a friend of Russell and his wife, Melisa, a source said.
The Cubs acted in accordance with the league’s policy on domestic violence. Team officials were meeting Thursday to determine the best way to address the situation, a source said.
Russell released a brief statement Thursday afternoon that read, “Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful. For the well-being of my family, I’ll have no further comment.”
He will not be in uniform for Thursday’s game, but the Cubs said that it is not a suspension. Rather, the team is giving him a day to work through things and they will play with only 24 available players.
The Cubs have issued the following statement:
“Last night, we were made aware of a serious claim posted on social media about Addison Russell. We reached out to Major League Baseball and, following the protocol established by MLB, will fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office as it gathers pertinent facts. Addison will not be in uniform tonight to allow him to work through this matter.”
Jed Hoyer joined Bernstein and Goff on The Score to discuss, what else, Addison Russell’s absence from tonight’s game and the allegations facing him. Hoyer said that, given the serious nature of the allegations, the Cubs felt it was best for Russell to be away from the team and to take some time to sort things out. Hoyer stressed that this was not a disciplinary action.
He went on to explain that the team found out about this just like everyone else did, via social media mid-game, and that they huddled after the game to discuss a course of action. The domestic violence accusations leveled by the third party merited MLB’s involvement, and Hoyer said any punishment at this point would come from the league.
The Cubs GM also said that, while players and staff were briefed on the situation, they were not coached on what to say. They trust their players to operate without a script, and from what we’ve heard so far from Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, they seem to be doing a good job.