Baseball

Cubs Release Addison Russell, Proving It Was All About Baseball After All

Remember “Quiz Show?” Pretty brilliant Robert Redford-directed film. Great cast. Maybe the one time Hank Azaria played an unrepentant asshole. David Paymer and John Turturro are just awesome, and pretty much showcase the entire Jewish spectrum. Somehow it starred Rob Morrow, which gets funnier and funnier the more you think about it.

Anyway, the climactic scene is when Ralph Fiennes’s Charles Van Doren sits before Congress and admits he got the answers before the shows. And senator after senator compliment him for his statement, until the surly, frumpy one from New York (of course he’d be from New York) finally says that his colleagues are full of shit and that he shouldn’t be commended for doing what’s right. Which earns standing applause from the gallery.

That’s kind of how I feel about the Cubs non-tendering Addison Russell yesterday. It really deserves no more applause than getting a vaccination. It’s what you’re supposed to do. Except in one light…is it?

I’ve always been a shade toward the middle on the whole thing when it started last year. Obviously, Addison Russell is a giant piece of shit and I would have been sated had they tossed him in the same dumpster as the giant Wrigley cake from years ago. But, and I could just be drinking the Kool-Aid, I believed Theo when he said they were genuinely interested in his rehabilitation and what was best for Melisa Reidy, who they said had requested that Russell not be released. Multiple times when they announced they were not letting Russell go last year, Theo stressed that Melisa and their child’s well-being and wishes came first.

Sure, deep down I knew it was about not losing an “asset” for nothing, and the hope would be that he would hit for at least a month or two and not spend the season shoving his cleats up his ass every which way so they could trade him and get something in return. But it seemed a pretty good cover story at least.

Of course, Russell sucked all year and proved to be an inattentive dope as well. And the first paragraph of the statement tells you everything: If you haven’t seen it in full:

The first thing they mention is that his contribution on the field would not be anywhere near what he would have to be paid. And normally that would be enough. But Addison Russell isn’t normal.

Last year, they said they were keeping him because they wanted to be on the frontline for his rehabilitation, to make sure everything was being done for Melisa and their child, because they didn’t want to simply wash their hands. They wanted to be involved. They wanted to be on the front-line. They wanted to be at the head of change throughout the league. They wanted you to believe then that his performance didn’t really matter.

And now it’s top of mind.

Of course, they say that his adherence to whatever they set out for him off the field has been up to the standards they set. No one knows really what this has been, and I’m not sure anyone should, although some idea of how intensive it’s been would certainly help. Whatever it is, it certainly can’t have been “completed” in just a year. But now the Cubs aren’t really worried about it, because he’s not their player anymore.

They also didn’t miss the chance to trumpet their own horn, but at least they didn’t lead off with it, so they’re one step ahead of John McDonough. Still, using this at best uncomfortable situation and at worst abhorrent as a platform to boast about your accomplishments and changes, ones we can’t really put a finger on, doesn’t really scan fully either.

Clearly, the Cubs had no choice in the public’s eyes, and no one is going to criticize this move. It’ll be on Addison’s new team to make sure he keeps adhering to his growth and change as a person. Except if there is no new team, what then? What if it’s just on him until April or May? Or longer?

I’m certainly not unhappy he’s gone, though I bet I see even more #27 jerseys in the stands from jackasses who have to prove just how uncaring and menacing they can be simply because. But if it was all about his change and growth, and you were so involved, wouldn’t the Cubs have to keep him so they could as closely monitor it as possible?

That would have been an impossible choice to make. This was certainly easier. But if you take them at their word, always a bad idea when it comes to front offices in any sport, it might not actually have been the right one.

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