In November the Cubs decided to tender Addison Russell a non-guaranteed contract. The Cubs shortstop will start the season in the middle of serving a 40-game suspension for domestic violence. While the decision to tender him a contract wasn’t well received by many Cubs fans at the time it was made, many people’s objection to it has grown louder over time. Particularly in wake of Kelly Wallace’s detailed interview with Melisa Reidy in December.
At the time Al joined the growing number of voices who said it was time for the Cubs to cut ties with Russell:
For me, though, the summary of all this is simple: At this point I think the Cubs need to move on from Russell. He’d likely benefit from a fresh start elsewhere, and from what I’ve already seen before I began writing this, including comments on Sara’s post, Cubs fans are not reacting well to these revelations. It would be good for neither the team nor the player for him to stay in Chicago.
It would appear Al’s read of the fanbase at the time was correct. Today news broke of a new effort by Cubs fans to protest Russell’s place on the team with a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising the equivalent of Russell’s salary as a donation to the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic of Chicago. The group refers to itself as “The Pink Slip Fund” and I’ll let them speak for themselves:
To Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and any other parties this may concern,
We are raising a number equivalent to his entire projected salary in 2019, to be donated to the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic of Chicago, in hopes that you will release him from your roster. We’ve read in the press that you’re barely scraping by. While we, like most Americans, can’t imagine what it’s like to be wealthy and powerful beyond all measure, we’ve come together to scrape our pockets and dig into our couch cushions in hopes that one or preferably all of you decide to find a soul.
“You go talk to their girlfriend, you go talk to their ex girlfriends…” - said our brave leader, Theodorus Nathaniel Epstein, on 60 Minutes. He promised us that times would change. We were told that character counts. And we’ve already been asked to forgive a lot on that score. We haven’t forgotten Aroldis Chapman.
Now you’ve been presented with a man who has choked his wife in front of his children, who has been delinquent in his child support, who has mentally and physically abused his wife for years, and who has been suspended by Major League Baseball after accepting responsibility for his actions. It’s long past time to do the right thing.
Release him. He does not deserve the honor of having this position. He is not entitled to a job as a major league baseball player. He is a repeat offender, a danger to any woman around him, and it would spit in the face of every fan of this team to tell us that you respect us so little, that you don’t mind demanding that we clap our hands for a man who has used his to do much, much worse.
As always, all the power rests in your hands, all we can do is wait, and wish, and hope that we’re fans of human beings with souls, and not spineless jellyfish, clinging desperately to a cruel man who would cause millions of us trauma and pain to see in a Cubs uniform again. It’s time for you to give Addison Russell the pink slip.
Signed, The Fans of Cubs Twitter
*ALL MONEY RAISED IN THIS CAMPAIGN WILL BE DONATED TO THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEGAL CLINIC OF CHICAGO*
In under 24 hours they have raised over $1,300 towards a stated goal of $4.3 million from 49 different donors. The #ReleaseRussell campaign has also already been picked up by more traditional media outlets, such as NBC Sports Chicago. Additionally, the campaign is picking up steam on social media:
a short thread on my favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs:— Sarah Weinstein (@slwein) January 10, 2019
their starting shortstop is talented and young. he is also a domestic abuser. one of those should outweigh the other but it sadly doesn’t. his ex-wife is on the record about the abuse she suffered at his hands.
Earlier this week it was reported that the Cubs did try to move Russell early in the offseason, but the team was unable to generate interest in a player serving a domestic violence suspension. That revelation doesn’t seem to have placated fans who would rather not see Russell in a Cubs uniform again.
At the time of this writing the Cubs front office has not responded to the #ReleaseRussell campaign, however, I would imagine they will need to come up with a more satisfactory answer than they did earlier this offseason before they face the fan base at the 2019 Cubs Convention next weekend.