Chicago Sun-Times


Despite seeming evidence, righty Clevinger cleared by MLB to pitch for the White Sox

- RICK TELANDER LEADING OFF | @rickteland­er

The first thing that strikes one with this whole Mike Clevinger thing is shock. Signed as a free agent by the White Sox in December for $12 million, the right-hander was cleared by Major League Baseball to pitch like a regular guy this season despite being charged with domestic abuse by the mother of one of his children.

He has to go along with certain MLB drug and abuse protocols and be on his good behavior and agree to anything else the MLB disciplina­ry board might come up with down the road. But apparently, for now, that’s that. Pitch, dude.


Is it just because there’s no video of the alleged strangling of former partner Olivia Finestead, or of his throwing a wad of used chewing tobacco at their baby or of hurling an iPad at Finestead when she was pregnant that this thing has gone away?

The landmark MLB and players union policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse was agreed to in August 2015, and it was supposed to get a handle on the ugly things that can happen behind closed doors between men and women.

More than a dozen major-leaguers have been nailed for domestic abuse since and been fined, suspended or strongly discipline­d. Treatment and education also are part of the policy.

The longest suspension to date — 194 games — was handed to Dodgers right-hander Trevor Bauer last season. The Cubs’ Addison Russell got 40 games back in 2018. And, lest Cubs fans forget, 2016 World Series closer Aroldis Chapman, he of the 103 mph fastball, was suspended for 30 games earlier in that season.

As I think we all know, perhaps to our shame, an athlete can pitch, run, wallop, dunk, pass, swim, smack or tackle himself right into our little fanboy hearts. It’s a fact history is written by the winners, not necessaril­y the good guys. Same is true of those who become heroes.

And that’s a conundrum that hits us right in the face with Clevinger,

the 32-year-old, long-haired, tat-sleeved thrower whose elbow has been surgically repaired more than once and who clearly feels the pressure of the clock ticking on what is likely the twilight of his career.

You hate to get involved even in the analysis of these domestic-abuse issues because there is the fear of being wrong, of being cruel and censorious to an innocent person, of never knowing all the facts. Though rare, there are even times when the woman in the relationsh­ip is the aggressor. The case of actress Tawny Kitaen clobbering her husband, former major-league left-hander Chuck Finley, with a spiked heel comes to mind.

And right now we have the case of Pro Football Hall of Famer-turned-TV analyst Michael Irvin, who allegedly said something during the recent Super Bowl week to some woman in the lobby of a Marriott Hotel in downtown Phoenix, something that got him tossed from the hotel and pulled from ESPN and NFL Network. Irvin has counter-sued the hotel for $100 million, and there seem to be witnesses backing up his tale of innocence.

Who knows what’s going on with that case? We have not seen the hotel’s videotape. Which makes one wonder: Is the future of every domestic crime or injustice, now and forever, to be constant video surveillan­ce in a non-private world?

There are lots of questions here. But abuse of women and what to do about it is the one we can’t lose sight of.

It is simply stunning that with all the seeming evidence against Clevinger from Finestead and other women who have joined her online in anger that he is fine and free to rock ’n’ roll. I mean, if he didn’t do any of the things he is accused of having done, how is Finestead free to claim he did?

The obvious answer is because we’ll never know anything for sure. But, boy, does it seem like Clevinger is beating out a really bad bunt straight at the pitcher’s mound here.

There was a Cleveland teammate who was so disgusted with Clevinger’s violation of COVID-19 safety protocols in 2020 that he said he’d leave the team if Clevinger came back. A great teammate, this Clevinger might not be. Pitchers can be narcissist­s, as Finestead has claimed this baby daddy is, and narcissist­s, well . . .

But the man can hurl the pill. Indeed, he can.

And it’s hard not to wonder how Sox fans, women especially, will feel if Clevinger were to help pitch the team into the 2023 World Series.

Would all be forgotten? Would he have pitched himself whole and heroic?

You wonder.

 ?? JOHN ANTONOFF/SUN-TIMES ?? Mike Clevinger was accused of domestic abuse but won’t face disciplina­ry action.
JOHN ANTONOFF/SUN-TIMES Mike Clevinger was accused of domestic abuse but won’t face disciplina­ry action.

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