So this season isn’t great. I mean not many of us expected it to be, but if you squinted hard enough during spring training you could almost convince yourself it wasn’t going to be abysmal, you might even have been able to convince yourself this was a .500 team. Yet, now we’re here. Historically bad. I mean flags fly forever and all but, wow, I don’t think anyone expected it to get this bad this fast. But hey, Moose and Whit should bring back some interesting pieces come the trade deadline and Kauffman Stadium is still one of my favorite places on Earth, so there’s still that, I suppose.
That’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about today though. I know I’m late on this, I know so many have already sounded off on both sides of this issue weeks ago, but it’s still bothering me, a lot, both as a Royals fan and as a survivor of abuse. I wanted to talk to you today about Luke Heimlich and your handling of this whole mess. You know, the Oregon State pitcher who was convicted of molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15? The one you want to sign but didn’t have the “courage” to draft? Yeah. That guy.
I completely understand that he’s “paid his debt to society”, even though this particular society has a terrible history of under-convicting and under-sentencing perpetrators of sexual abuse, especially when they’re white, middle-class, men, doubly so when they’re athletes. (See: Brock Turner) I understand entirely that it is well within his rights to seek employment with your organization and totally within your rights to offer employment to him. Though for me, and for so many of us, this isn’t a question of legality, it’s a question of your values. You’ve been very public about your values, so much so an anti-choice group advertises at the K and during Royals’ radio broadcasts. So much so that the Royals still haven’t joined the majority of baseball in hosting a Pride Night. So much so that you held mandatory anti-porn seminars during spring training. So much so that after Duffy’s DUI your press conference devolved into a discussion about the evils of pornography. You speak so much about character and faith (and strangely porn) that it’s frankly surprising to me that you would disregard the impact that signing an abuser, promoting an abuser, marketing an abuser as a hero would have on your fans, particularly those who are survivors of abuse.
I know you watched across the parking lot as the Chiefs signed and celebrated Tyreek Hill after he beat his pregnant girlfriend. I know you saw how quickly fans forgot the atrocities of someone who is exceptionally talented and athletic. I know you’re expecting a similar reaction with Heimlich, and honestly, you’re probably right. If you do choose to sign him, there will be outrage, if he’s successful his crime and his victim will be forgotten by a lot of people. That doesn’t mean it was right. That doesn’t mean you’re not sending a very loud, very specific message to your fans. That message is “A live left arm is more important than you, your trauma, and your recovery.”
One out of every five women and one out of every ten men are or will become survivors of sexual abuse. This is as true among baseball fans as it is among the general population. Celebrating an abuser as one celebrates a talented pitcher is insulting his victim and each and every survivor in the stands. It tells me your values are bullshit.
Let’s also talk about how you’ve handled this situation in the press.
First, what were you thinking bringing Jarrod Dyson into it? Comparing a PED suspension in the minor leagues with child molestation is ridiculous. Jarrod says he’s not mad about it, but I’m mad for him. How dare you.
Second, quit calling child molestation a “mistake”. You are minimizing what he did to justify your desire to sign him. Stop it.
Third, I don’t care how many pot smokers, PED users, or players with other “character flaws” you’ve given second chances to, sexual abuse is different. Stop comparing them.
Fourth, he doesn’t “deserve” a chance to play baseball. He has not “earned” a contract with a major league club nor is he entitled to one. Going unsigned will not be taking away an opportunity any more than it would be for the thousands of college baseball players who also didn’t get drafted or signed. As he was a scholarship student, he has already received a free college education, if he goes unsigned he can fall back on his degree in communications from a top 200 school and lack of student debt. Can we please stop pretending if he’s not signed to a team he will be hungry and homeless?
I know you’ll never read this Mr. Moore. I know even if you did you’d be desperate to explain to me why your faith demands that you take advantage of his low cost and cheaply sign a first or second round talent, despite the impact to your fans. I just felt I needed to get this off my chest.
If you sign him I’m done, at least until both him and you are no longer part of the organization I’ve loved for more than 30 years. I’m sure you don’t care, but I know I do.