The notion that allegations of Addison Russell’s spousal abuse were but a fictional product of a third-party Instagram comment has been obliterated. Initially reluctant to share her story publicly, Russell’s ex-wife, Melisa, broke her silence and detailed a pattern of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse via a lengthy blog post published Wednesday.
The essay destroyed narratives about the precocious shortstop that have been foisted upon the public in the past, namely that he’s mature beyond his years and had a deep and abiding respect for women. In truth, the faulty veracity of those topics has been an open secret to those in and around the Cubs organization for quite some time.
The Cubs had asked Russell to tone down his philandering and indulgence in the local nightlife prior to the 2016 season, if not earlier. But as is so often the case with those possessed of talent and fame, none of the chatter ever really rose above whisper volume.
Not only did Russell allegedly manipulate his wife, making her feel unworthy and as though she was the source of all his ills, he hid behind the excuse that he was simply young and didn’t know better. I’d urge you to read the whole thing if you haven’t already, but I’m including an excerpt below in the meantime.
Emotional/verbal abuse started way before I even realized, eventually it started to be an everyday thing. Being blamed for just about anything that went wrong, name calling, intimidating me with personal force, manipulating me to think I was the problem, destroying my personal things, threatening me to “send” me & our son home to my parents as if I was privileged to be living in our home. Basically, I felt like I was nothing, a nobody & I was nothing without him, & I couldn’t do anything without him. After he would calm down from his angry spells, I’d always get the most sincere apologies, making me believe how sorry he was & he’s working on bettering himself. One of his favorite excuses was that he was “young” & he’s still learning how to live right, he basically raised himself, he didn’t have nurturing parents like I did & he didn’t know how to love the way I did. But, somehow he could ALWAYS find a way to make me feel like it happened because of me, or because I wasn’t listening to him. It was ALWAYS my fault – You don’t realize it, but its a sick mind game that you get sucked into – All your source of happiness somehow is controlled by that one person, depending on how they decide to treat you on a daily basis. Feeling the need of affirmation from him became the main source of how I felt happiness. Always trying to please him to show him I was good enough, strong enough, worthy enough… it consumed me & before I realized it, I was so far gone from the person I used to be.
I cannot fathom the amount of strength it took to lay this all bare, for any victim to reveal the hurt they’ve held in for varying lengths of time. There is a lot to unpack here and sorting through it all would take a more astute mind and more time than I have available to me right now. Really, though, this is a pretty simple matter whether we view it through a lens of human decency or one of cold, calculated professional pragmatism.
Major League Baseball is by no means alone among professional sports when it comes to its reluctance to meaningfully address its tacit (and sometimes active) acceptance of a culture of abuse. Though it’d be a small step, the Cubs can at least move in the right direction by suspending Russell for the remainder of the season. Then MLB needs to resume or reopen the investigation that stalled when Melisa chose not to cooperate.
And spare me the argument that such action would ruin Russell’s reputation or career. The former has been highly questionable for some time and the latter…Well, just ask Aroldis Chapman and Jose Reyes, among others, how badly their careers have suffered. Actually, I’ll save you the time and let you know they haven’t.
Even if we strip away any of that and look solely at this from a baseball perspective, a suspension effectively removes the inevitable distraction and clears up the glut of middle infielders the Cubs currently have. That’s a really stark way to view it and disregards the humanity of those involved, but it’s naive to think such factors don’t or won’t weigh in the Cubs’ logic.
I’ll end there since, again, I’ve got neither the capacity nor time to properly address it. There will no doubt be a great deal of further conversation about this topic, some of which will probably take place in the comments below. I can’t promise I’ll be readily available to join in that in the immediate wake of this being published, but I’ll certainly be around throughout the weekend.
MLB has placed Addison Russell on administrative leave:
Addison Russell placed on administrative leave by MLB: pic.twitter.com/fXFlhBT0tW
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 21, 2018
The Cubs released the following statement:
”We take allegations of domestic violence seriously and support the League’s decision to place Addison Russell on administrative leave given new details revealed today. We will continue to cooperate with the League’s investigation so the appropriate action can be taken.”