Cubs’ playoff clinch overshadowed by domestic abuse allegations
Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell is facing renewed scrutiny over claims of domestic abuse. | John Minchillo / AP

“The first time I was physically mistreated by my spouse, I was in shock. I couldn’t wrap my head around what just happened…Why did he get so angry? What did I do for him to want to put his hands on me? Of course I forgave him and assumed it would never happen again. I just thought he had let his emotions get the best of him; he loves me and he’s sorry. I was deeply hurt that he could even be capable of this behavior towards me. I couldn’t understand how the man I was so in love with, the FATHER of my child, the man I married just a few months ago could show such aggression towards me…” – Melisa Reidy

The Chicago Cubs are heading to the playoffs—their fourth straight October postseason appearance—but their 7-6 extra innings Thursday night win over the Pittsburgh Pirates is tainted.

Major League Baseball placed Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, 24, on administrative leave last Friday, shortly after his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, 24, published a blog post detailing the physical and emotional abuse she experienced at the hands of Russell.

Russell’s leave was extended to Sunday, September 30, an MLB source confirmed Thursday.

“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 and our son home to my parents as if I was privileged to be living in our home,” Reidy wrote.

Reidy did not name Russell directly in her post, but it comes more than a year after MLB opened an initial investigation into allegations of abuse against him. During last summer’s investigation, Reidy chose not to speak with MLB investigators after the initial claim was made by a friend on an Instagram comment, and Russell was never disciplined.

In a statement last Friday, the league said it “takes all allegations of domestic violence seriously.”

“When the allegations against Addison Russell became public on June 7, 2017, the Commissioner’s Office’s Department of Investigations immediately commenced an investigation,” MLB said in the statement. “Melisa Russell declined to participate in the investigation at that time. Our investigation of this matter has remained open and we have continued our efforts to gather information.

“With the new details revealed in today’s blog post by Ms. Russell, Mr. Russell has been placed on Administrative Leave in accordance with the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy. We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible.”

Under the joint MLB-MLBPA domestic abuse policy and collective bargaining agreement, players can be put on paid administrative leave for seven days, which can be extended for up to another week. Russell’s postseason is in question. It’s possible his suspension may be extended through October, or he could return to the team—it would be up to the Cubs to decided if they want him on the playoff roster.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he read the blog post Wednesday.

“Domestic violence is horrible,” he said. “It absolutely is. By reading that, you feel her pain, absolutely. … But I don’t know enough about the other side. I’m waiting for the full report to come out then we all can draw a conclusion.”

The abuse claims first appeared on a since-deleted Instagram post by Reidy saying Russell had cheated on her. Her friend Carlie Reed responded in a comment saying Reidy was a victim of abuse. “Melisa didn’t want that out, but I’ll say it. He hit her. In front of Aiden and Mila,” Reed wrote.

Russell denied the initial allegations of abuse last summer, saying “any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful.”

Reidy’s post details the emotional and verbal abuse—belittlement, physical intimidation, manipulation, threats—that began shortly after their marriage and the night terrors that followed, along with depression.

“As time went on, abusive behavior happened more often in arguments (more so when he was under the influence) and the verbal/emotional abuse grew to new levels. Friends would express their concerns with me, but I would assure them that I was okay, he lost his temper and wasn’t himself. Every day began to be a struggle to fake the convincing smile of a happy wife I grew accustomed to,” she wrote.

“Uncountable nights I spent crying myself to sleep, praying to God to show me a sign that would help me figure out what I should do. I felt broken and alone. I didn’t know what else I could possibly do, all I knew is that I couldn’t live like this for much longer. Any actions of empathy or sympathy he showed in the past were completely gone. I was to the point where I didn’t even know why I was even there, I had no purpose for him. I was nothing.”

Reidy filed for divorce June 2017, two weeks after the initial abuse claim, and it was finalized Aug 30, 2018—15 months after the paperwork was filed.

Reidy wrote on Instagram that her decision to come forward with details of the abuse was motivated by her “seeing a lot more and more of these situations around me.

“Those very close to me know how hard and long this road of healing has been for me. How long I’ve prayed about opening up about my experiences…I know my story is not for everyone, but it is for someone…I want to be a light for the many other women who go through days filled with darkness, loneliness, and trauma.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Al Neal
Al Neal

Al Neal is a sports columnist for People’s World writing on politics, labor relations, and the general rabble-rousing in professional sports. He spent a decade working in the trade union movement with various locals across the country and currently serves as Dir. of Education and Advocacy for the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Sports Media Association, National Society for Newspaper Columnists and the NewsGuild, Neal’s work and reporting has been featured in the Labor-TribuneBuzzfeed NewsRussia Today (RT)Sputnik News Wire, and Getty Images. More words at GrandStand Central.

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