Seattle Mariners Don’t Do Their Homework on Josh Lueke

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mariners’ management is taking heat for including Josh Lueke in the package of prospects they received along with Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee.

As I reported in this post two days ago, Lueke missed most of the 2009 season when he was charged with rape last Spring in Bakersfield, where he was then playing Class A+ ball.  After a lengthy jail stay, he pleaded no contest to a charge of false imprisonment with violence and was sentenced to 40 days in jail, which he had already served.

I had never heard of Josh Lueke when I first learned he was included in the Cliff Lee trade.  I looked at his minor league numbers and saw that he had missed almost all of the 2009 season, to what I initially assumed was an injury of some kind.  However, when I googled Lueke, the news stories out of Bakersfield about his arrest and plea deal came right up.

Apparently, the Mariners’ front office didn’t take the time to google Josh Lueke.  Again, I’m not surprised.  The player the M’s really wanted was Justin Smoak, and once they got him plus Blake Beavan, a former first round draft pick and a pitching prospect to replace Lee, the last two players thrown in (Lueke and Matt Lawson) were an after-thought.

Lueke is actually 25 this year, not 24 as I mistakenly stated in the original post.  However, he’s got great ratios (Ks/BBs, Ks/9 IP), and I’m sure that when the Rangers offered to throw Lueke into the deal (we now know why), the Mariners probably looked at his strike out numbers and decided he was a good bottom-of-the-deal, player-to-be-named-later candidate to round out the deal.

Ironically, the Mariners are a team which has taken a strong stand against violence towards women, so Lueke is the last player they would have wanted as a throw-in to sweeten the pot on the Cliff Lee trade.  Here’s a post from Mariners’ beat writer Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, which describes the issues in detail.

What’s really damning is that Mariners’ brass is quoted as saying they were aware of the charges against Lueke and thought that last year’s resolution of the case meant that Lueke had been “cleared”.  Since a more accurate picture was only a google search away, it makes the M’s look really sloppy and careless.

My opinion is that Lueke should be allowed to continue pitching professionally for somebody (although I would certainly understand it if the M’s decided to release him given their past stance on domestic violence).  He’s served his sentence and has a right to resume his career as a professional baseball player for someone.

That being said, Lueke’s conviction is a matter of public record, and he’s going to have to live with the consequences of the really bad decisions he made on the night in question.  It’s fair game for the public to discuss and for teams to decide whether a player convicted of that particular crime is someone they want in their organizations. After all, professional sports are nothing but a form of entertainment which owe their livelihood entirely to the public’s good graces.

If nothing else, the episode is a good example of the fundamental premise that if you are a young athlete (or any young man, for that matter), don’t act like a douche-bag.

It’s a fact of life that many young women are turned on by professional athletes and will make themselves available to provide for a ballplayer’s needs, so long as they are freely given the choice to do so.

The news reports suggest that the young woman in Lueke’s case might well have been agreeable to a little harmless sleeze, if Lueke and his roommate hadn’t gotten her so drunk she passed out.

No matter what she may or may not have been willing to do if given a reasonably informed choice, every woman has an absolute right to be given the opportunity to make that choice.

Lueke apparently didn’t give this young woman any such opportunity, and he has rightfully had hell to pay as a result. At age 24, he was certainly old enough to know better, no matter how much he had to drink that night.

I wonder whether teams give players when they start off in professional baseball a stock speech about the fact that women don’t exist solely to serve a ballplayer’s needs, and that while many women will be only to happy to indulge a ballplayer’s fancy, some women will not and that such refusals must be respected.

In basketball and football, players generally go straight from college to the major leagues, where other players, the players’ association and players’ individual agents can give them lectures about the facts of life and proper conduct.  In baseball, however, minor leaguers start very young and are often largely on their own to make decisions about how they conduct themselves off the field.

Even then, baseball has no monopoly on loutish conduct.  Ben Rothlisberger’s recent episode and Kobe Bryant’s rape charge of a few years back are examples.

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4 Comments on “Seattle Mariners Don’t Do Their Homework on Josh Lueke”

  1. P. Smith Says:

    I live in Bakersfield and this story was big news when it happened. There is more to the story than meets the eye however. Much information about the victim in this case might have come out in open court and would have cast the entire episode in a completely different light. However, Mr. Lueke accepted a plea deal because he was cooling his heels in the Kern County Jail. Had his case gone to trial there would have been a good chance of acquittal but Mr. Lueke chose to take the fastest path out of incarceration. It was a bad decision on his part, but a common one for people in his position. It’s too bad that desperate move on Josh’s part has now come back to haunt him. He should have had his day in court.

    • Burly Says:

      Thanks for your input. I tend to think there’s more to the story, as you suggest. Specifically, the nature of the plea deal, that basically meant time already served by Lueke, suggests that this was not a case the District Attorney wanted to take to trial.

      That being said, I suspect that Lueke did something he shouldn’t have done in the first place, or he wouldn’t have accepted a plea bargain. Also, if there wasn’t something substantial to hold him on, why wasn’t he able to get a reasonable bail set when he had the Rangers’ organization to vouch for him?

  2. B.Jenkins Says:

    In response to P. Smith…Honestly get your facts straight….there was information released about the victim in regards to that night…I hope your not saying she got what she deserved??? There was nothing else that was going to come out about her except that she was previously engaged and had just left her fiance. Did you read the case file??? Just wondering because if you did you would know the facts on the case right…I mean like Clayton Hamilton his roomate and a former Blaze player was reported saying “Don’t Do it, she is too drunk” or that Josh lied repeatedly about having any encounter with the victim as well….Why lie 3 times and its not until they have your DNA come clean? Teammates saw her throwing up in the toilet ?? She should not have put herself in that position for one but also at some point a man at the age of 23 should know what is right and wrong?
    It is clearly stated in the case file the victim went to the hospital with no idea what had happened to her or where she even was or was that night.

  3. Jackson Says:

    In response to P.smith… I really think you should brush up on your knowledge if the case or maybe even read the case file since it appears you haven’t.. It states clearly in there Clayton Hamilton told Josh he shouldn’t do it because she was heavily intoxicated and unaware…. It also names other females who found victim unclothed on a couch and told the guys they needed to dress her before she woke up and then when were put on the stand lied…it also says other players saw her throwing up in the bathroom… What man in there right mind thinks it’s ok ?? Do you P.Smith??? Would you do this??? I am not saying the girl shouldn’t have been more responsible but really…. There was nothing about the victim that was going to come out that didn’t in the papers so know what your talking about!!! Also in the case file it says she woke up with her clothes half on not even knowing where she was or who she was with…she went to the hospital not knowing anything!!! My question was why did he lie 3 times to the police about having an encounter with her??? Why not just say yeah I did?? Was it because he KNOWS what he did was wrong?? Just saying you should know what your talking about before stating things … Especially as serious as this…


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