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Dayton Moore’s comments on Luke Heimlich draw backlash

The GM is under scrutiny for considering a convicted child molester.

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Dayton Moore general manager of the Kansas City Royals watches batting practice prior to a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Kauffman Stadium on June 12, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The news that the Royals are considering signing Oregon State left-handed pitcher and convicted child molester Luke Heimlich has exploded on the internet. However, Dayton Moore revealed the news himself in a segment with Fox Sports Kansas City last Tuesday that escaped any kind of scrutiny.

Rustin Dodd of The Athletic went back and looked at the interview.

“We were very interested in Luke last year. And obviously this accusation came out. So we immediately put everything on pause, as we should, to gather facts, gather information. He went out and performed this year. Not only did he achieve athletic excellence, he achieved academic excellence along the way. He went undrafted, all 30 teams. I think teams are still trying to find out more and more information. They’re trying to come to grips with this. This is something that happened in their family. Their family has dealt with this. Their family remains very close today, all parties involved.

“It’s a very complex deal.”

Moore made a bizarre segue into the harmful effects of pornography, referencing their anti-pornography stance that attracted criticism earlier this year. How it relates to this case, however, does not seem entirely clear.

“We’re an organization that made a stance against the harmful effects of pornography,” Moore said, “and how it affects our young players and our young people and young minds. We’re very sensitive to these types of things.

“We also believe in giving players second chances. We’ve given some players third and fourth chances.”

Perhaps most puzzling is his reference of former Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who Moore said was given a second chance. Moore does not indicate what Dyson did to warrant a second chance, although he was suspended for 50 games as a minor leaguer in 2009 for amphetamines.

Moore concluded by saying he thinks Heimlich should be able to play professional baseball.

“I think the player has earned an opportunity to play professional baseball,” Moore said, finishing his interview on Fox Sports Kansas City. “Again, based on what he has—how he has conducted himself since we’ve known him, for four or five years, and how he’s performed on a baseball field. That’s as transparent as I can be. That’s my heart in this situation.”

These comments have drawn intense backlash from baseball commentators. Whitney McIntosh at SB Nation is infuriated at Dayton’s public comments regrading Heimlich.

Moore is inserting himself into a family’s pain and internal relationships, and incorrectly assuming (or, even worse, willfully pretending) that the family has found a resolution. It’s hard not to think that he has the Royals’ future in mind rather than the pain of those involved.

Teams don’t have to keep reckoning with Heimlich. They’ve had plenty of time to make up their minds. If they haven’t done their due diligence yet then they should reassess every piece of their organization from top to bottom and figure out why they’ve failed so completely.

But as Moore has so nauseatingly made clear, teams are not done coming to grips with what it would take to sign a convicted child molester and still be able to look at themselves in the mirror every day before heading to the stadium. And if Moore is attempting to create a path to signing Heimlich after the College World Series, he’s going about it in an irresponsible, abrasive way.

Diana Moskovitz at Deadspin wonders why Dayton Moore and others are so insistent on redemption for Heimlich, but not others like him.

This looks a lot more like Dayton Moore—the trusted organizational architect who brought a doormat to two straight World Series—simply implanting an idea in the heads of Royals fans, getting them just used enough to it that the team could possibly sign Heimlich without there being too much drama. It will probably work, in part because American forgiveness always has been handed out on a sliding scale, which tips a lot in your favor when you can jump high or run fast or have a fastball in your left hand. There’s currently a roving tent city of convicted sex offenders in South Florida that can’t find a place to live and has existed that way for more than a decade. Few people beyond the ACLU have stepped up to fight for their basic human right to shelter, and I am comfortable guessing few people in MLB or sports in general pay the issue much mind.

Craig Calcaterra thinks Dyson is owed an apology and that Dayton Moore has failed to make a case for giving Heimlich a chance.

Given how lacking Moore’s case seems to be so far, it seems far more likely that Heimlich’s status, in Moore’s eyes, of having earned a “second chance” is 100% a function of him being a first or second round baseball talent who is, to use front office speak, “undervalued in the market.” His criminal conviction for molesting a child a mere market inefficiency not unlike a fat catcher who wouldn’t look good in an ad for jeans was to Billy Beane back in 2002. Winning teams sign such players on a cost-benefit basis and, wow, what benefits an arm like Heimlich’s could bring!

If that is the case, and I strongly suspect it is, Moore should just admit that. It’s his and David Glass’ team and they can do what they want, up to and including signing a sexual predator because he has a good fastball.

For what it’s worth, Buster Olney thinks the Royals are “uniquely positioned” to take on Heimlich.

It is curious that Dayton Moore has been so public about his interest in Heimlich considering the inevitable backlash, which suggests that perhaps he is trying to test the waters or even soften the blow for when they announce a signing. Oregon State is currently playing in the finals of the College World Series and should be eligible to sign later this week. If this week is any indication, Moore should expect plenty of blowback if he brings Heimlich into the organization.


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