Cubs Must Act Swiftly as Addison Russell’s Ex-Wife Opens Up About Abuse

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.

Until now.

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.

***Update***

MLB has placed Addison Russell on administrative leave:

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.”

Good.

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Evan Altman

Evan Altman is the EIC and co-founder of Cubs Insider and has proclaimed himself Central Indiana's foremost Cubs authority. He is a husband, father, homebrewer, and award-winning blogger with entirely too much pop culture knowledge. Evan's greatest accomplishments include scoring 400 points in Magic Johnson's Fast Break, naming all 10 members of the Wu-Tang Clan in under 3.5 seconds, and winning the Meese Literary Award at Hanover College.

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19 Comments

  1. It sounds bad, but he needs his due process. Let her make a statement, let him make his, then investigate while under a suspension (with pay, because guilt must be proven). I had an ex-girlfriend make some crazy statements about me to my bosses (I’m a teacher/counselor and military officer) in an attempt to destroy or damage my career. It took a little time to prove that she was lying and malicious. I truly hope no one ever has to endure the embarrassment that I had to overcome. In the end, her garbage was discounted, but I’m not sure the damage to my sterling reputation will ever be restored. We need to hear both sides. If guilty, he needs an opportunity to correct it. She needs to either commit to giving him another chance, or just divorce him and take a hefty support/alimony settlement. Staying and complaining, blogging does nothing to fix the situation. Use the tools available and remove yourself from his company to ensure safety.

      1. Good. I don’t keep up with drama, but Due process still applies and innocence prevails until proven otherwise. Suspend him with pay and investigate. I’m sure MLB is involved.

      2. If I remember right, she didn’t even come forward last year. It was her friend that posted that he was abusive. It’s taken her just over a year to come forward. That actually seems that she gave herself time to get her stuff in order and build up the strength to talk about it. I personally applaud her and wish her nothing but the best. Reading that entire blog post, you can tell these aren’t just baseless name smearing accusations. This woman was hurt, repeatedly, and often. Let’s hope the Cubs do the right thing, and that Addison does the right thing by his new family as well.

        1. Melisa posted on IG that she was “free,” or something to that extent, and that it was good to be away from the cheating and other things (I’m clearly paraphrasing). After receiving a lot of nasty responses, Melisa’s friend defended her with the allegation of abuse.

    1. If your response to this story is to bring up a case where a lying malicious woman was making stuff up, buddy, you’re doing it wrong. If you lived through what you described I can’t blame you for having those feelings, but this is not the time to share them. As Evan discusses above, dudes in these situations will come out alright, generally speaking, whether they deserve to or not. They don’t need other men to make sure everyone knows how important due process is because there are lying and malicious women out there. They don’t need your support. Abused women do.

      1. I said to suspend with pay and investigate. The problem is the court of public opinion immediately sides with an accuser, often without knowing the details or before a proper investigation has occurred. I get it, there is a lot of women who have been abused. There have also been plenty of men (some cases highlighted recently due to the vague, inconsistent and ancient charges tossed against Kavanaugh) who have had to endure through lies from a vindictive woman. Case in point, I had a recent discussion with an MP who specializes in rape/sexual harassment cases. A wife of a Soldier came forward and claimed she was raped 200 times by her husband. When pressed for details and told her sworn testimony could be used against her as perjury, she quickly recanted. There are two sides. I just don’t want anyone thrown under a bus because of a friggin blog post. The correct way is to get somewhere safe, file charges and corroborate the story. He is likely guilty, but what if he isn’t?? This type of retribution happens ALL the time. Let’s get it right and let the process occur through the courts, not public opinion.

  2. Man, what a POS. I read the full post and, if true, really sheds some light on who he is as a person. From a baseball perspective, it really downgrades our defense. Having Zobrist or Murphy full time at second is def a step down. Offensively, he wasn’t contributing much anyway.

    1. Sociopathic is exactly the word that came to mind. This not the “rant” of a person lashing out to hurt back, rather an open discussion that took her a year to get her mind around. I totally believe that she did it for others that may be going through the same, and she likely KNOWS other wives of athletes who are – sad as that may be to say.

      As for the absolutely proper, or correct way for the Cubs organization to handle this – I don’t know. I certainly hope that they separate him from the team immediately, in whatever manner they deem best. I understand the pitfalls of allegations and due process, but there is just too much here to ignore for any length of time. I certainly wouldn’t want this guy on my team. A great team needs a strong influence of “brothers in arms”, and that’s absolutely not a guy I want to go to battle with.

    2. Agreed. It’s pretty amazing to me that so many people are talking due process and so forth. This isn’t just some wild accusation out nowhere. The details all fit with a lot of the stuff that’s been rumored for years.

      1. Due process is ALWAYS pertinent. I recall some serious claims made against Patrick Kane three years ago. I was amazed at how so many in the Chicago media immediately turned against him. There was much written about his past and reputation. How did that turn out? Yes, the two cases are not exactly the same but due process ensures that someone is not convicted on one case based on what happened elsewhere. If Russell committed these acts, he should be prosecuted/disciplined as per the law.

    1. You’re welcome. It’s difficult because I feel as though I’m doing it a disservice by not being able to dig deeper, but I also think this is a topic no single post could ever address properly.

      1. I understand that it’s difficult to feel like it’s a disservice not to say more, but personally, I feel like you treated it appropriately for the context of a site like this.

  3. I can only speak for myself. I’ve said it before here. I can’t speak for the right or wrong, in this particular case. But I know, from personal experience, that these conversations? Make a difference.

    We could debate nurture vs. nature when it comes to mental illness or addiction (kudos to those who speak out).

    But this is not that. It’s familial. A poisonous pedagogy, pushed forward thru generations. It’s not an excuse, it’s a symptom.

    I’d be shocked if most among us haven’t experienced or been in contact with others who have experienced (and/or carried forward) some form of physical, verbal or sexual abuse.
    It’s just not how it works.
    When it comes to comes to awareness, someone may be feeling convicted today.
    And if you are, seek help. You’re not alone, you’re not broken, you’re human.

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