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.