Evan Reed Should Go

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Note: This post contains references to a sexual assault case involving current Mud Hens reliever Evan Reed. Trigger warnings apply. 

I struggled with the decision to write this post. Not because people won’t read it or because I don’t believe it, but because I’m not sure how important my opinion is of the situation. I guess you can be the judge. I’m not going to comment on the legal merits of today’s dismissal. I’m not really qualified to say if the judge acted properly or not. That’s someone else’s job. But this is a blog where Tigers fans come for analysis of the team. There isn’t a sabermetric for morality, but you can’t ignore the implications for Tigers fans. We learned things (read: details) about one of our players today that we can’t ignore and as a result, the right thing for the Tigers to do is to release Evan Reed immediately.

I won’t recap everything about the case or everything that happened today. George Hunter covered the hearing today on Twitter and you can catch up over on his timeline. The Detroit media has covered the case well, in my opinion. So if you need a refresher, you have lots of places to look.

Here’s what we know, without any question. Reed and the victim met, the danced, they drank. Specifically, she says she started to feel strange after she had left her drink unattended while dancing with Reed. Witnesses corroborated that her behavior was out of character as a result. There’s video of Reed and the woman getting out of a van later in the evening in which she needs help to keep her balance. Reed may have even needed to carry her.

Let’s leave it here. No one really disputes any of this. Reed claims they had consensual sex after this point and she says she was raped, and describes an instance in which it is possible that they had sex while she was blacked out and two in which she was awake and asked him to stop after he began without her permission. The next morning she left the building distraught and witnesses verify the aspects of her story from that point forward.

So we know the beginning and end of the story and the middle is the aspect in question. I don’t know what happened in between. Only they do. I don’t have any reason to think she’s lying, but I also wouldn’t want to condemn someone to live life labeled a rapist if they weren’t a rapist. Legal stuff gets tricky here, of course. And Reed isn’t going to jail as a result.

But here’s what we know. The victim, given the best evidence we have, couldn’t walk on her own. Reed doesn’t deny they had sex. She told the cab driver the next morning she was raped. She told a friend. She said she felt like she had been gang-raped. She went to the police. Knowing what we do about victims being hesitant to report and discuss their assaults, nothing indicates to me that she’s doing this for any reasons other than that she believes her story to be true.


So picture this. Evan Reed gets called up in September because the Tigers have bad relievers and he’s on the roster and stuff. Ausmus puts him in the game and the crowd, or a portion of the crowd, starts to boo. People tweet, “Rapist pitching for the Tigers.” They absolutely will. An eight year old kid at the park or on the couch are going to ask their parents, “why is everyone booing the pitcher?”

What do you tell them?

Do you tell them that at the very least he had sex with a woman who probably wasn’t able to offer her consent? Do you tell them he might be a rapist, but they couldn’t convict him because a judge didn’t think the woman was credible enough? Do you brush it under the rug and make up some excuse?

Every answer I have to that question ends badly. Either the answer is: he raped a woman and he’s playing on our team, “oh don’t worry about it,” or some kind of explanation that makes it look like he’s the good guy who was wrongly accused. So either you have to explain a rapist, you have to ignore it, or you have to make him a victim. I can’t live with any of those options.

I struggle with the idea of firing someone for something the courts said they didn’t do, but the courts have a different standard. They’d rather let a guilty man walk free than put an innocent man in jail. That’s how it works. But the Tigers don’t have the burden. They can do what they thing is morally right for everyone.

And the right thing is to cut Reed. Let’s be honest, the Tigers gave Cabrera a slap on the wrists for his past transgressions. Some of that was because the union has policies on alcohol (I don’t think they have any that apply here). Part of it was because the Tigers were on the hook for millions of dollars and above all, they’re a business.

But Reed doesn’t have a guaranteed deal beyond this year and he’s not critical to the team. From a baseball and business perspective, there’s no loss here. And there’s a big moral moment to be had. The Tigers have been good about being anti-bully and pro-LGBT, this is a great opportunity to take a stand with survivors of sexual assault. Heck, they already had a bad moment with Ausmus’ stupid joke. This is a good opportunity to stand behind their apology.

Let’s be honest. The Tigers would love to put this off and quietly not renew his contract this offseason. They probably don’t want a big fuss because big fusses can be ugly. Let it come. Take a stand, let him loose. They can’t deal with the legal system. They can’t undo the trauma that woman experienced. But they can send a message. They can be a powerful voice. They let the legal system do its thing and now it’s time to make a call.

Do you want Evan Reed on the roster? Maybe what he did doesn’t constitute the legal, open and shut definition of what you need for a rape conviction. But that doesn’t matter. Reed had sex with a woman who earlier in the night couldn’t walk on her own two feet. I wish we knew for certain what happened. She says it was rape. That’s enough for me.

We don’t get to put him behind bars, but that’s not what this is. This is about wearing the D and climbing on the mound at Comerica Park. I don’t think I could cheer for the team with him on the field. And I certainly couldn’t explain to a kid why they should do the same. Could Ausmus explain it to his wife and daughters?

I’m sure there will be calls for me to stick to sports, but Evan Reed didn’t stick to sports. Truth be told, there’s probably a player on the team who’s done bad stuff we don’t know about, but we know about this. And odds are, one of the players, or more than one, has a family member who’s a sexual assault survivor. Could you ask them to play with Reed?

I don’t know if the Tigers will do the right thing. I hope they do. Maybe they won’t cut him now, but won’t ever have him pitch for the team again. That’s fine, I guess.. But it could be bigger. It could be a bold statement. It should be.

I don’t want Evan Reed on the team and if he’s ever out on that mound, I’ll be cheering for him to get rocked, even if it’s at a critical moment. The thought of it makes me sick. Release him.

Note: Feel free to comment, but I will delete victim blaming comments. If you don’t agree, say why he shouldn’t be cut. Do not attack a woman who says she was raped.


11 responses

  1. Thank you for being willing to address this. Eloquently and persuasively argued.

  2. Reed is not on the Tigers’ 40 man roster, and is not likely to be added in September.

    It is not the job of a baseball team, or any employer, to pass moral judgments about their employees. Some of what is assumed to be true in this article is not known. What is known is that the Judge in the case found the alleged victim to lack credibility. So, when she claims to be a victim, why should she be trusted over Reed?

    When professional sports teams start releasing players based on mere accusations, despite a Judge’s finding that the accuser lacks credibility, just open up the floodgates for blackmail. The biggest casualty is that the real victims will be even more afraid to come forward.

    “I don’t find her to be a very credible witness,” Judge King said, adding that prosecutors didn’t meet the standard of proof for either force or coercion, or that the woman was incapacitated.

    During her testimony, the woman backtracked several times. One inconsistency was that she first claimed she didn’t know she was with ballplayers in the bar, despite texting a friend: “I’m sitting with Tigers, dummy!” She later said she thought some of the men were baseball players, but not Reed.

    “I don’t believe the alleged victim when she says she didn’t know who these people were,” King said. “She said she didn’t know they were Tigers until two days later … why are you being less than truthful?”

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140821/SPORTS0104/308210067#ixzz3B5CapBOz

    1. Mere accusations? There is a great deal of evidence to suggest this event occurred. We know she was intoxicated and it appeared as if she was well past the point of being able to offer consent based on the video. We know they had sex, Reed admitted that. The fact that Reed believes she was capable of consenting is pretty damning. He appeared to have carried her at one point. Maybe Reed doesn’t actually think he raped her and believed she offered consent. But that doesn’t mean she gave it.

      They found feces in the bed. No one disputes that. How does that happen if the person is conscious and coherent? She told the cab driver she was raped. She tells her friend. She goes to the police right away. She is willing to testify.

      I understand there may not be enough to legally convict him, but there is more than enough here to think that the likely event was sexual assault. I’m not suggesting they are able to void his contract. They should pay him what he is owed, but they should not allow him to play in their organization.

      1. These are matters for the legal process to decide, not a baseball club or any other employer. She did not go to the police for two days, and the Judge found she lacked credibility in several of her statements.

        Maybe Reed did something wrong, and maybe he didn’t. All that is left are accusations. We don’t know what actually happened. An organization should not substitute it”s uninformed judgment for that of the court which has heard the evidence in the case.

        Reed very likely will finish out the season within the next two weeks and be done. It is not the place of baseball to “make a statement” by terminating a player based on accusations that are not credible enough to prosecute him.

      2. The threshold for prosecution is higher than the threshold for the Tigers. They are asking their fans, Mud Hens fans right now, to cheer for this person. The facts might not be enough for 20 years in jail, but they are pretty damning in a general sense of what is acceptable behavior. And there is no competing reason to keep him, either.

  3. The Tigers have no threshold. They should not get involved in the actions of their players outside of baseball. It it not their role, period. They should respect the legal process. If a player does something illegal, let the justice system deal with it. If not, move on. I don’t want them to “make a statement” that substitutes their own moral judgment for that of the justice system, based on the accusations of a woman who was found by a court to lack credibility.

    Where would that end? What other areas of players’ lives should MLB start investigating? How far should they go to collect evidence, if the court’s judgment is not sufficient for them? What other employers should get into the private lives of their employees? For me, it’s a complete non starter. It’s not up to MLB to question the legal process. The reason to keep him is that they rightly refuse to cross that line.

    1. Imagine we has video of the assault but it was acquired illegally so it wasn’t admissible. Then what? Is this a question of questioning the probability of the crime or a complete disinterest in doing anything even if you know he is a rapist?

      Having a rapist on the mound is bad PR at the very least, if not totally alienating to a large portion of the teams fans. If you think he did it, you cut him. If your concern is doubt over the event, there’s more room for debate.

      1. We don’t have video of the assault. If the Tigers know he is a rapist, then obviously they don’t want him around. What we do have is accusations made by a person that the court found to lack credibility. There is more than enough doubt about whether there was an assault. The Judge specifically found that there was a lack of evidence on the issue of the woman’s incapacitation, so you can’t claim to “know” that she could not give consent.

        The Tigers may very well determine that it’s bad PR to bring him back next year. But they are also absolutely right in not questioning the legal judgment of our justice system and terminating a player who has broken no law. I don’t want employers of any kind, including baseball clubs, to start getting involved in policing players’ conduct off the field, other than what is determined by the legal system, unless there is some reason to believe that the system is seriously flawed.

      2. So your concern is with doubt about the facts of the case and you agree that the Tigers should not employ a rapist? Correct?

        So then it becomes about determining if an assault occurred. Yes? If the Tigers feel strongly that he committed this crime, they should cut him loose. And the facts of the case clearly demonstrate to me that one occurred. I understand the legal system has different standards than I do, but that’s because the legal system is dealing with throwing a person in jail and stripping him of his freedom. I’m not. I’m not even talking about releasing him *without* pay. I’m just saying he should never pitch for any of the Tigers or their affiliates again.

        And I disagree that teams shouldn’t engage in this kind of policing. The Tigers make their money through fan support (ticket sales, TV dollars, etc). They should decide to do what is best for maintaining fan support given that cutting Reed is not costly in a baseball sense.

        1) Cutting Reed doesn’t hurt their performance
        2) Their is no financial cost
        3) There is significant PR benefit to doing so

        Why should they keep him?

  4. Doesn’t Reed’s issue become a part of baseball the moment it becomes public? Once one puts the uniform on, they represent more than themselves right (aren’t athletes treated as role models)? So if what they do in private remains private, that’s off limits. But once it’s public, all things are off. “He’s tarnishing the Tigers brand.”

    If nothing else, Reed’s an employee of Mr. Illich, and as long it’s permissible within the terms of the bargaining agreement, Mr. Illich can do whatever he wants with Reed.

    I agree with Mr. Weinberg’s more philosophical argument; I just wanted to put a business argument out there as well.

    By the way, was it Francisco Rodrigez (the closer) who was arrested for assaulting his wife’s father? How did the team deal with it (wasn’t he with the Mets, and they released him–but then didn’t another team pick him up in the offseason)? I’m sorry if I got the details wrong here. It seems just a parallel/analogous situation.

  5. I don’t dispute that the club CAN release Reed, who is now off the roster, and not even covered by the CBA. They would have a problem if they tried to terminate his contract, though. I don’t think Neil is suggesting that.

    There is some analogy with K Rod, although he had a fat major league contract at the time of his incident. He went up to the press box and beat up his girlfriend’s father. He broke his hand in the process and was unable to pitch for a while. The Mets suspended him without pay and there was a grievance filed. That got somehow settled, but they were not able to terminate him completely.

    One of the issues was that K Rod had a fat vesting option for like $ 16 million if he finished a certain number of games. He was traded to the Brewers for a couple of PTBNL’s, which was mainly a salary dump for the Mets. Milwaukee kept him in a set up role with Axford closing, so the option never vested. They wound up resigning him for half the amount.

    K Rod was busted for a bunch of violations of the restraining order against his girlfriend also, and was later up on charges for kicking another woman from Venezuela that he had a child with. She split to VZ and he never went on trial.

    Most observers, including myself who deals with domestic violence matters in court, don’t think that K Rod ever was given justice. He was able to buy his way out of domestic violence charges, with light fines for his violations. He paid a price for the assault, but only because he was unable to perform. His contract not vesting was the heaviest price.

    Another analogy might be Kobe Bryant, who was charged with sexual assault, and I think probably set up by the woman, who was paid off very handsomely to drop her civil suit. She had been known to hook up with other NBA stars in the past. There was no way to prove anything, but the civil suit and the book that was sure to follow would have been a major disturbance for Kobe.

    There could yet be a civil suit in Reed’s case, where the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. It’s her word against his, with no “unreasonable doubt” required. I’m sure that she has been contacted by attorneys already.

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