The Rundown: Special Saturday Edition, Depressing Day on North Side, Brewers Gain Ground, deGrom Finally Gets W

It is rare that I write on the weekends unless it is the playoffs or the winter meetings, but yesterday represented a disturbance in the force for Cubs fans and I wanted to comment on a few things.

Around mid-morning, we learned of a lengthy and accusatory blog post by Addison Russell’s ex-wife Melisa Reidy, entitled “you no longer have a secret, you have a story.” Shortly after, MLB put the Cubs shortstop on administrative leave, and then Russell issued a statement denying the accusations, calling Melisa’s allegations completely false.” This is a big mess and a black eye for all parties involved, including the Cubs organization and Major League Baseball, with the playoffs just a little over a week away. Still, Reidy’s domestic abuse allegations deserve to be heard, regardless of timing.

The courage that Reidy showed in posting her story now, knowing that she would be heavily chastised, insulted, and probably doubted, is not surprising if you read the entire story.

To be certain, the account paints Russell as a verbally and physically abusive sociopath. He is portrayed as an entitled young man who seeks to point blame at others, namely his ex-wife, for his on-field performance, as well as for his alleged infidelities. Reidy wrote that the abuse was a daily occurrence and — at least the last time it happened — was witnessed by the couple’s 3-year-old son, something with which I take personal issue, if true.

From a psychoanalytic point of view, there is a reason why children grow up to be abusive adults. It is often an unconscious attempt to cope with the abuse they themselves experienced while turning a passive, painful, and horrific experience into an active one.

We do not know at this time if Reidy will be willing to cooperate in an investigation with MLB or with the Chicago Police Department. We do know, however, that despite putting Russell on administrative leave, MLB has proven on a number of occasions that it will still have a place for its better athletes to make millions of dollars in gainful employment despite domestic violence charges. Just ask Aroldis Chapman and Roberto Osuna, two closers who will get plenty of action and press in this year’s playoffs.

It’s probably best that the Cubs cut ties with Russell if the allegations prove to be true. The shortstop is arbitration-eligible after this season, so don’t be surprised if a contract offer is withheld by the team, making the shortstop a free agent.

With the Russell allegations pushed to the forefront of what is an amazing race for playoff positioning in the National League, the Cubs went into Guaranteed Rate Field and lost a real stinker to the White Sox. The listless performance kept the Cubs’ magic number to win the Central Division at eight, and later last night the Brewers upended the Pirates to reduce the Cubs lead to a game and a half. But with everything else that happened yesterday, baseball — as a sport — just didn’t seem to matter much. The Cubs played like a team that was a million miles from a pennant race and devoid of any emotion in a game that should have been much more exciting.

The Cubs need to find a way to avoid distractions, put their foot on the gas, and not look back. Not sure that will be possible given that the allegations will be a continually updating story through the end of the season and playoffs.

Cubs News & Notes

Daniel Murphy started the game with a solo home run and finished 3-for-5 on the afternoon. He was the team’s lone bright spot yesterday.

Cubs pitchers allowed 19 hits to the White Sox yesterday. Kevan Smith hit a three-run homer for the White Sox in the second inning which turned out to be the decisive blow. Daniel Palka also homered, and Ryan LaMarre went 3-for-3 with three RBI. Jon Lester will take the bump today to try to even up the series. He’ll face off against Lucas Giolito.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn’t want to speculate on Russell’s future with the team, writes Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required).

Anthony Rizzo probably should have chosen his words more carefully, or not said anything at all regarding the Cubs shortstop.

OF Kyle Schwarber (lower back) returned to the lineup as the DH after missing nine games. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

How About That!

Travis Shaw, Mike Moustakas and Erik Kratz homered during a six-run sixth inning as the Brewers beat the Pirates 8-3 in Pittsburgh.

The Braves moved to the brink of its first NL East title since 2013 with a five-run seventh inning to beat the Phillies 6-5. Atlanta’s magic number is two.

The Phillies led the NL East by 1½ games on August 5th and have lost 27 of 42 since then. Yesterday’s loss was particularly frustrating for Pat Neshek, who was unaware that his defense had shifted with Dansby Swanson at the plate. One more loss and they will be officially eliminated from the NL East chase.

The Astros blew out the Angels on Friday night to clinch a playoff spot. Los Angeles has been outscored 42-6 in its last three games. Houston’s magic number for the division title is six.

Jacob deGrom finally got a win! Of course it was a quality start as well for the leading NL Cy Young candidate. The Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention in the loss.

Sam Travis and Tzu-Wei Lin hit their first major league home runs and the Red Sox tied a team record set in 1912 with its 105th win in a 7-5 victory over the Indians in Cleveland. Boston can clinch the best record in baseball (and thus home-field advantage throughout the postseason) as soon as today. A win or an Astros loss will get it done.

If you’re looking for a stealth NL Cy Young contender, check out Rockies southpaw Kyle Freeland.

There is a good chance that the A’s may start an “opener” in their wild card game against the Yankees, provided the team clinches. Oakland has a 6 1/2 game lead on the Rays for the second AL wild card spot with eight games to play after last night’s walk-of win.

Friday’s Three Stars

  1. Yuli Gurriel – The Astros first baseman swatted two home runs and drove in seven runs on the night, including a first-inning grand slam.
  2. Khris Davis – The A’s slugger clubbed his 44th and 45th home runs of the season last night in Oakland’s 7-6 victory over the Twins. He opened the scoring with a first-inning solo homer and ended the game with a 10th-inning solo home run.
  3. Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. – The Gurriel brothers are en fuego.  The Blue Jays shortstop (and Yuli’s younger brother) hit a pair of solo home runs against the Rays. That’s after hitting a game-tying two-run homer as part of Toronto’s crazy seven-run, ninth-inning comeback on Thursday night.

On Deck

The Texas Rangers announced Friday that Jeff Banister has been dismissed as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of the 2018 season.

The Orioles are expected to replace manager Buck Showalter after the season. The O’s are wrapping up a historically awful season and Showalter is in the final season of his contract.

Extra Innings

Tony La Russa doesn’t like the fact that baseball is played and managed differently in September than in any other of the five months. Among the four major sports, baseball is the only one where in the last month, the roster size can rise substantially.

They Said It

  • “[Quintana] was a lot of heart. He went out there every five days and gave you what he had. He was another kid that, if I remember well, we didn’t give him a whole lot of run support. Kept us in the ballgame, gave us a lot of quality starts and just as professional as you can be, a quality person and performer. He’s a quality individual across the board.” – Rick Renteria
  • “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.” – Chicago Cubs Front Office
  • “These allegations are completely false. I made that clear to Major League Baseball last year and reiterated it to the Cubs today. I’m confident any full and fair investigation will fully exonerate me. The protection of my children is foremost in my mind so I will have no further comment.” – Addison Russell

Saturday Walk Up Song

Church Bells by Carrie Underwood. Just listen.

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