For the Chicago Cubs, this offseason has been disappointing – but not for the reasons you might think. It’s been the off-field matters stealing headlines.
Sure, we’re all still anxiously awaiting the Bryce Harper introductory press conference. Maybe he’ll even top Joe Maddon‘s ‘beer and a shot’ mantra from four years ago and do something crazy for the Chicago Cubs beat writers. I mean, he’s clearly going to get the $300 million he’s seeking, right?
But, believe it or not, that’s not why this offseason has been the biggest failure under the Ricketts regime. Sure, Harper in Cubbie blue would have made literally every other piece of disheartening news a little more palatable (well, not really, but for a great many fans, it wouldn’t have hurt matters) – but it’s the team’s utter lack of character that’s stolen the show thus far.
The biggest failure – and let’s just call a spade a spade here – is the Cubs’ decision to tender shortstop Addison Russell a contract. That’s nothing short of embarrassing for an organization and ownership group that likes to pretend it’s progressive and forward-thinking.
Accused (and in the eyes of Major League Baseball, guilty) of domestic abuse (if you brush this off as no big deal, then you need to read this account from Russell’s ex-wife and the mother of one of his children) – Russell has evaded any major consequences, outside of a 40-game suspension from the league, the remainder of which he’ll serve to open the 2019 campaign.
Ricketts could have gotten in the war room (which I assume is housed somewhere in Gallagher Way) with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon and laid down the law: there is no room for domestic abusers in this franchise – period. Instead, the team offered some statements about being there for Russell and helping all involved recover – which is the last thing he deserved.
The club already lost credibility in this arena after adding Aroldis Chapman, another member of baseball’s domestic violence suspension club in 2016. But instead of burying that firmly in the past under the cover of a World Series championship, the Cubs doubled down and once again showed that forgiveness reigns supreme at 1060 N. Waveland Ave.