Compass on Carmen Fusco - the Seattle Times

Q.  I notice that the Times is still chewing the ankle for every inch it's worth.

A.  It's starting to remind me of 1992.

Don James owned the Pac-10, and a local P-I reporter started digging up dirt, hoping for a "scoop" as to how dirty the Husky program was, hoping for a national impact.

He got one.  Although James' program was cleaner than the other Pac-10 programs, and although the UW penalized itself for the infractions the reporter dug up, the other nine Pac-10 vicars took the opportunity to guillotine James' program.  Which, 25 years later, is still a catastrophe. 

They buried James' program over nothing.  Because they could.

The reporter got his scoop.  The lives were destroyed.  The sports scene in Seattle was greatly diminished and 100,000's of people enjoyed sports less, for a generation's worth of time. 

But one guy did get journalistic awards.  Hey, it was the truth, right?  The rest is your problem.


This is descending to true muckraking.  There are active, enthusiastic efforts to put Armstrong and Zduriencik at each other's throats, even while in the same room with each other.

Now that they are in fact at each others' throats, the reporting of that is done with just as much gusto.


SSI has never been a big supporter of the M's power structure.  But why would you want to instigate a fight between two execs?  They work together?


Q.  Is SSI still a Times fan?

A.  The luster's off. 

Baker remains very good at what he does -- able to blend saber, on-field feel, access and everything else to call shots long before others do.  We continue to like his style and presentation.

We like the fact that he is trying to hold the shot-callers responsible for winning -- does any other writer have the guts to do that?  Baker's a man of courage and conviction.

He has well pointed out that the Mariners' owner has never attended a game.  That's very important.  It's why the Mariners' owner allows his shot-callers to prioritize other things over talent and winning.  Baker's correct that that's the problem.

And, we give Baker the benefit of the doubt that he is probably sincerely revolted by Leuke's accused actions, as opposed to Baker simply enforcing PC code.


All that said, it's a lousy thing to do, to snap a pool cue, throw it on the floor and put two co-workers at one another, the way this has been done.  What a shame.

Had other M's reporters taken Geoff's example and followed him down the accountability road, even at 50% speed, Seattle might have developed the kind of expectations that other big-league cities have:  hey, we bought you a stadium, we expect you to win.

Word is that Baker's looking to move East Coast first chance he gets.**  If that's the way it plays out, Baker's efforts to hold the local club accountable will have turned out to be nothing more than an asterisk in the Lincoln-Armstrong era.

** Edit to add, Baker himself clarified (below) that he's not seeking an East Coast move, which leaves this accusation as materially unfair.  See his comment below.


My $0.02,




Taro's picture

Sigh... On a more light-hearted note, what was your take on LOST now that its all over Doc? :-)


If Nick Franklin is a 12-part post, that one would require about 30 posts...
The final ending, with its spiritual theme, royally hacked off a certain 20% sector of the fans.  As you might guess, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Liked the fact that Jack acknowledged Locke "being right about almost everything."  Was a bit surprised to see Jack become the Island Guardian, but the prodigal-son-finds-faith theme was interesting in retro.

Taro's picture

Oh ya, I loved it too. It got mixed reviews so I was hesistant on getting it at first, but I thought the final season was awesome.
I was a little sad with how Locke's story ended, but in retrospect I am glad they went the direction they did.
After Locke died and Jack kind of took his place spiritually, he seemed destined to become the Gaurdian.. No thread Doc? Its only the greatest TV series ever. :-) 


Regarding Baker - no doubt that he is head hunting and I doubt that Fusco is big enough game for his wall. I mean, read his post on the Fusco firing. He mentions Fusco's name a couple of times....and Lueke a half dozen times.
Sad thing is, he and the other Times columnists (minus Stone) have the average fan ready to march on Safeco with pitchforks and torches. LincStrong's target market is fired up. That, more than anything, is what they are worried about.
The M's PR on this has been terrible. If anyone deserves to be fired, it's whoever heads the PR/Marketing department. Americans are suckers, absolute suckers, for redemption stories. If they would have handled this correctly, this entire thing would have blown over quickly.


...then Geoff Baker will go down in history as the most hated man in Seattle and I'll be completely done with the Mariners.  That injury will be way...way too deep on too many philosophical and emotional levels to overcome.


And I'm with you most of the way, Doc.  But I do lean a little more against Z on the totality of this issue.
I think Z does have an obligation to be straight with the facts with his bosses, and I don't think that is the upper brass having pretentions of being "baseball guys" to expect him to keep them apprised when he is potentially messing with the reputation of the entire org.
The Lueke acquisition alone could have gone down fine.  Grizz is right about redemption stories.
The problem is the Lueke acquisition without Armstrong having any notice AND the conflicting stories about whether Z had enough info to give Armstrong notice AND whether Z ignored a whole bunch of red flags that should have caused him to get more info so that he could have given Armstrong notice AND THEN having all the conflicting stories in the media so everyone can see what a mess the entire thing is.
All of that comes back to Z's doorstep -- sharp-elbowed "rainmaker" or not.  And, I do disagree -- I think 30 of 30 teams would view that record as a negative mark on the GM (not necessarily a fireable offense, but a negative mark).  And I also disagree -- I think 30 of 30 teams would view Lueke's incident as something not to brush over.


Volumes of history can be written about all the awful decisions made by people in positions of authority because they were deathly afraid of being shunned or frowned upon at "the right kind of cocktail parties."
I could go on and on about decisions in my town, and I'm sure all of us could.  The internet has done immense service to ripping the lid off of a lot of such stuff, and, frankly the political impact is being felt, including last night (even if sometimes entails cutting off noses to spite faces).
Anyway, if this were simply a matter of the higher brass imposing a PC attitude on Z that cramps his baseball style because they're afraid that their ballclub won't "fit in" at the right social circles, then I would be all in with you.
But I think that this deal goes beyond that.  Lueke admitted that he lied to the police until he was nabbed by his DNA.  The incident itself is ugly, and not just to those who want to be PC.  Z admitted that he didn't give any red flags to Armstrong until there was already a media mess.  Z has some obligation to at least know what his bosses' hot buttons are, and not dance over them with impunity.  And worst of all, the org doesn't have a consistent storyline to fall back on because Z's version doesn't fit with what others are saying. 
If  it is true that the Ms are the 1 in 30 that won't let Lueke appear in their uniform even if he toes the line, then, yes, that is another argument.  But we don't know that yet.
I do think that 30 out of 30 would give Z low marks for how the whole thing was handled.

Geoff Baker's picture

That's news to me, as I'm in the midst of a couple of real estate negotiations here on the West Coast. Folks have been repeating this line for four years, usually after a story they don't like, and yet, guess what? Here I still am. My girlfriend owns a home here in Seattle and we have no plans to sell or move.
As for pitting executives against one another, I can't help it if Chuck Armstrong says he was told one thing by Zduriencik and two people of solid reputation suggest something very different. If their contradictory statements appear to put them at odds, speak to them about it. Not my job to pick and choose who to write about based on who is the most popular guy in Seattle at the minute. Muckracking? Well, compared to the average story, perhaps. But compared to standards across the country? This is tame stuff. Maybe you don't get to see enough of it, I don't know. The charges Lueke faced were more than a misdemeanor offense, as was the felony he pleaded no contest to. It's up to competent MLB teams to know about these facts in advance, which the M's claim they did not. That alone makes this a story worth following, even before the comments contradicting their versions.
I agree with your take that some teams would have traded for Lueke right away, just as some others would not have. It's up to the Mariners to decide which of those teams they are. I'm not telling them what to do. The fact they just fired somebody over it seems to suggest they are a tad uncomfortable. Look, I feel for your desire to have a winning team that acquires talented players. I'm tired of covering 100-loss teams.
But that doesn't excuse the fact that quality MLB teams are expected to know in advance about the prospects they acquire in the biggest trade of the year. Expected to know things like the fact Lueke is on felony probation through the 2012 season and cannot be in a bar or in possession of alcohol at any time before then. That's how you protect valuable team assets. Through knowing these things.
Senior team officials are also expected to tell the truth, both to their bosses and to the public at large. And when something comes up contradicting whether or not they told the truth, they are expected to clarify any misunderstandings right away. That's how good teams operate. It's one thing to preach accountability and talk about the imprtance of character. Quite another to practice what you preach. The example is set from above. If you don't have accountability upstairs, you will never have it down below.
Otherwise, keep up the good work Doc.


I'm surprised you decided to leave a comment here Geoff...we know how busy you are. It's not an easy thing having your job and I respect your reporting prowess and your general feel for the game.
Having said that, I have one question for you. Why have you not made any attempt to investigate Josh Lueke, the man? Your articles make dozens of references to his criminal record...even in this post, you seem to take great pains to mention as many negatives about him as possible. Why not talk to Lueke...or heck...make the incredible time-consuming step of reading his MySpace would take you like ten minutes to get a better feel for who he is than you have thus far revealed in your articles.
You're a great investigative reporter, Geoff...please be fair to Josh Lueke. Give him a page on your blog to talk about his life and his mistakes and what he may have learned from them. Give him a second chance with your readers...that would be more courtesy than some PC thugs (including everyone in Mariner management) are willing to extend to the man.
Thank you.


As we've always noted, you're the athlete-turned-sports-analyst who will look people in the eye with a steady gaze.   If there were nothing else going for you, that alone would make you special in your profession.
From Howard Lincoln to the first-time commenter, you treat them all with the same respect and skepticism.  The person who views him/herself, and others who differ from him, as equals -- that's worth its weight in gold, especially in the media.
Appreciate your clarifications. 
If you have no objections, we'll follow on, hopefully in an even-handed manner.  If you'd rather we left you with the last word on it there, we could probably accommodate.
Glad to hear that you may be covering the Mariners for a while yet.  Those 100 L's, somebody needs to hold their feet to the fire a little bit  :- )

Geoff Baker's picture

Look, I really don't want to get into a whole "blogging in somebody else's blog" kind of deal, but the question SABRMatt asks is one many, including the Mariners, have asked me. Why don't I show the human side of Josh Lueke?
My answer is a complex one, but rooted in some of what I've seen written in this very comment thread. One of your commenters wrote that Americans are "suckers" for redemption stories. And that's why I'm not going to play the spin-the-redemption-line game with my readers. The fact that Josh Lueke feels contrite, humbled, humanized, whatever, has absolutely zero bearing on this story.
That he may be a "good guy" now does not change the fact that he's accpeted responsibility for a serious crime. And that he is still on felony probation for that serious crime. Accepting responsibility, in my book, does not mean that your slate is automatically wiped clean, as some would like it to mean. What it means is that you agree to accept the consequences of your actions, which could extend well into the future. Josh Lueke was granted the freedom not to spend any more time in jail. He was not granted "absolution" or a "clean slate" in the eyes of the law. His record remains for all to see. And there may be consequences for that record when he tries to pitch in an entertainment industry like baseball.
There are too many examples of people who got "second chances" in life, but not in baseball. Tim Johnson, Barry Bonds, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Pete Rose. In all walks of life, as well. I've used the Sinead O'Connor and Bernie Madoff examples this week on radio. O'Connor did not commit a crime, but was effectively blacklisted by music producers at the height of her stardom and never was allowed into the mainstream again. How many of you would give a "second chance" to Madoff, if he ever gets out of prison, when it comes to running your finances? How about Madoff's local equivalents here in Seattle? Second chances for them? Yes, I know Lueke's crime was not specific to baseball. OK, then, let's move to a baseball example...
Tim Johnson did not commit a crime. His lie was about having served in Vietnam. Nothing to do with baseball. But he never managed again after one 88-win season. He was fired not because of the media, but because of the PR nightmare and the fact that his own players would not give him a second chance the following spring.
That's the way we roll as a society. We don't automatically give second chances. That's a myth. Neither does the law, which prohibits a felon like Lueke from holding specific jobs.
So, having laid that foundation, I will submit, yet again, that it is up to the Mariners and/or other MLB teams to decide whether Lueke gets a second chance in their sport. His "second chance" for now is that he is no longer in jail. Whether he gets to participate in a PR-conscious branch of the entertainment industry (MLB), is going to be a subjective call made by someone from within that industry.
And Lueke accepting responsibility for his actions, as he did, means he now goes forward knowing that those actions will be open to public scrutiny. And that he may still have consequences to pay for those actions. Yes, the Texas Rangers were willing to keep Lueke. I'll suggest that's because not a single story was ever written in Texas about what he did. Remember, he made his plea in the off-season and it was months before he took the field again, in Class A ball at that -- a long way from the majors and big-time media exposure. So, yes, it's easy to say a certain fanbase was accepting of a player, but if it's because that fanbase was kept in the dark, well then, that changes things.
My job is not to keep serious issues quiet, especially when it pertains to a player involved in the biggest trade of the year. I have done my best to tell the story of what happened that night with Lueke. He has supposedly taken responsibility for his actions.
Right now, those actions are being judged for what they are. We laid them out for you in the paper, and gave him a chance to tell his side of the story about what happened that particular night. We did not invite him to engage in personal PR to try to spin those people who are going to be deciding upon his future.
If I was going to write a human interest profile on anyone in this case, it would be on the woman acknowledged by the law as the victim. My story contained two paragraphs on her troubles since the crime took place. That's it.
Lueke has accepted responsibility for what happened to her. People have forgotten this and have tried to suggest that he was really innocent, or just didn't want to spend more time in jail...but that's not my call. I'm not a mind reader. All I know is, he accepted responsibility by pleading no contest in the case. The law considers him guilty and he knew that when he took the plea deal. I've read the case front to back, and seen all the police interviews. I've spoken to plenty of people on both sides who did not get quoted in the story. I am satisfied with how we presented it.
Again, the Mariners have to make the call on this one. But if they are in the midst of making that call, I am going to make sure the fans of Seattle understand what call it is they are making. And I'm not going to play any of them for "suckers" by giving them a story at least one of you agrees is something everybody loves to hear. This isn't about Josh Lueke's redemption. It's about whether a baseball team can withstand the PR hit of employing him, based on the bad things he has taken responsibility for.
That's it. Because either you take responsibility or you don't. And taking it means you might put other future things at risk. That's real responsibility. Where there are possibly some future consequences to owning up to your mistakes. Because taking ownership for something where you are granted automatic absolution, forgiveness and no future consequences/risk at all, isn't really accepting anything. It's taking the easy way out.
And really, based on that, it doesn't surprise me that so many in our society are in favor of lightning quick "second chances" or are "suckers" for redemption stories. We all want to take the easy way out. Josh Lueke may indeed get to play MLB here in Seattle or someplace else. That's for MLB teams to decide. But it isn't my job to do a PR spin for him. He'll live or die in MLB based on what he accepted blame for -- which we have reported in detail -- and based on how much his employer can live with it.


There is one thing you've written that has me confused, Geoff:  why do we say that "the Mariners" didn't know about Leuke?
Looks obvious to me that:
From Zduriencik down, they knew who Josh Lueke was, and didn't especially care. 
Armstrong and Lincoln didn't, at the moment of the trade, know who Lueke was.
After Z and co. found out how much Armstrong and Lincoln did care about the personal background, only then did Z's spin machine kick in -- with the intent of repairing interoffice relationships.
Which you opposed (the spin machine, that is) with the intent of establishing the truth, and with the inadvertent result of preventing the repair of their work relationships.
Tell me where I'm going wrong with that understanding.
Are you saying that Armstrong and Lincoln should have known who Leuke was before okay'ing the deal?  Or are you saying that Jack Zduriencik and his staff didn't know what the charges were at the time of trade?


Nor to respond point-by-point with umpteen different authors and commenters.
Your comments are gracious and admirable, and with your permission, I'm planning on a re-visit -- if you're so inclined to chime in again, that would be appreciated.  But if you have other things on your plate, we of course understand and we'll discuss it with respect.


...that I think it is an unfortunate position you've stated there...and I don't mean that with disrespect. I think it's a sign of too much jade in your ink if you refuse to give a man an honest chance to show you who he is simply because you don't want to be seen as playing to the suckers in the crowd who want a redemption story.
There are a great number of notable reasons why not one of your examples of people who shouldn't be given second chances are appropriate points of comparison.
First and foremost...not one of your examples in baseball expressed actual remorse for their crimes against the game. Pete Rose would get into the HOF *tomorrow* if he simply said "I admit my gambling was wrong and I am greatly sorry for how I treated the sport that I loved." Barry Bonds gets no second chances because he denies the perfectly obvious. The same will be true of Roger Clemens. Shoeless Joe has a huge segment of the population who want him reinstated and enshrined, but he gets no such hearing because he never admitted to wrongdoing.
Josh Lueke did.
For is far...FAR...from clear that what Josh Lueke did was entirely his fault. The girl...if you did your homework on the victim not a reliable witness. The prosecution offered Lueke a deal because they knew they HAD NO CASE. Two drunken morons with BAC way...way too high to act rationally had of them regretted it the next morning, though admits she can't remember ANYTHING! And you are treating Lueke as though he is...above all evil, unrepentent sex offender.
And while you take no time to question do take lots of time in your articles to mention details like the victim's trouble sleeping in the dark and her required therapy.
Two young kids both acting incredibly stupid. One of them suffers the emotional consequences...the other takes a plea to avoid spending any more time in jail while awaiting his trial and then not a soul will give him a chance to prove that he's grown up. I think that stinks. And I think it's pretty sad that members of the press are this badly jaded that they can't give a fair and balanced portrayal of a story from all angles.

CA's picture

No contest is a plea, not an offer from the prosecution.  It implies nothing with regards to the validity of the case.  I don't understand why folks want Geoff to not make waves regarding this issue.  Its not his fault, it is a story, and the M's have handled it very poorly.  Why not question their management team?


Sorry, but you need to more properly understand how the process of PLEA BARGAINING works.
Lueke pled no contest to a lesser included felony charge as part of a plea bargain arrangement...that is in fact a DEAL offered by the prosecution when they don't want to proceed with a trial by jury and are willing to take the guaranteed punishment rather than risk losing at trial.  That is how the legal system works most of the time (more than 85% of all criminal cases end in a plea bargain, either because the accused knows he's guilty and can offer information relevent to other investigations or because the prosecution's case is too weak to go to trial).  Yes...Lueke pled no contest...I would have in his place too even if I thought I was innocent of that charge.  He was in prison...he faced being stuck in prison for a couple more months at least while the case went to trial, and the trial itself could be very bad for everyone involved, including Lueke.  The prosecution offered him a lame first deal to see if he'd bite (that one would have had him serving a year in prison) and he laughed them they came back with a second offer that got him out of jail offer he took.
And I did not say I wanted Baker not to make waves...I said I wanted him to offer BOTH SIDES of this story...which he does not want to do...a fact I find highly distressing.

CA's picture

No contest is entered by defense implying a position of weakness in trial, not the other way around.  If the state doesn't like its case, they will reduce or drop the charges to more appropriately reflect the evidence.  They don't offer no contest pleas, defensive maneuver.  Not really that important, I was mostly concerned with reading the countless "Geoff's a muckraking bum" comments around the blogs.  I feel that position to be lazy and typically reactionary.    

Geoff Baker's picture

I don't want to go back and forth on this all day, but I sense a fundamental disconnect between how you want to view this case and how the facts view it. Most importantly, you seem to want us to treat Josh Lueke as being on equal footing with his victim. He is not. He is the person who accepted guilt in this case. She was the victim. They are not equal in the eyes of the law. They are not "equally responsible" for what happened that night. I am not about to get involved in blaming the victim here. If an NFL player goes to a Vegas casino, flashes money around, then gets beaten and robbed and left unconscious on the street outside, he does not share equal responsibility with his aggressors. Our law recognized this last year when that very thing happened to an Oakland Raiders player. His attackers are doing hard time.
You can question a victim's judgment about situations. But I am not about to blame the victim for a crime committed against them. That's a whole different story.
You have to understand that Lueke accepted responsibility for this crime. As such, he is no longer on a level playing field with his victim.
Your presentation of the case itself just isn't consistent with the facts. The prosecution had ample DNA evidence. Whether Lueke could have countered that with a consensual sex claim would have been up to a jury to decide. But there was evidence. To suggest otherwise is just not supported by fact. If there was no evidence, the case would have been thrown out at the preliminary hearing. You say the victim was not reliable. Again, not supported by fact. The prosecution said her story never changed from Day 1. Lueke's story did and we gave you his reasons why. But her story never changed. The reason her testimony would have had less impact at a trial was because she was said to be unconscious at the time of the crime. That doesn't make her "unreliable" it makes her unconscious. You said she had "regrets" about sex the next day. There is no evidence anywhere in the court files to support this.
You cited something about blood alcohol content being through the roof. But if you read the case itself, you'll see the BAC readings were taken too late to determine how much alcohol anyone had consumed at the time the crime took place. Instead, it was eye-witness testimony being relied on. Again, no facts to support anything about blood-alcohol readings.
So, when refering to cases like this, you have to be very careful about dealing with the facts and reading any conjecture into it. You say the prosecutor offered Lueke a plea deal because he had no case. The prosecutor says it was to spare the victim any more hardship and will point to the no contest plea as proof he did indeed have a case. When there's no case, people often walk. We're not mind readers and don't know why Lueke owned up to responsibility in this matter. Only that he did. You can throw in conjecture if you want, but I can't do that in a fact-based story. Because your conjecture can be twisted in the other direction too easily.
All we know is, Lueke accepted criminal responsibility in this matter. As such, he is the perpetrator of the crime and she is the victim. You may think you know differently, but you don't. All we have to go off is what the outcome of the case says.
And that is why I am not about to turn any story about this case into a PR piece about how well Lueke is doing after the fact. It's been less than 10 months since he was sentenced and really isn't relevent when it comes to relaying the severity of his crime to readers. Of course, he probably regrets the whole thing and is on his best behavior. Anything less would be a crazy move by him. But relaying that information does nothing to tell readers about what happened that night.
Had I gone and written 400 words about how much his victim suffered and how her life fell apart, you could try to claim I was jaded. But I haven't done that. In fact, Lueke had more say about being "a good person" in my story than his victim did about anything.
But again, Lueke and his victim are not equal. Lueke is the one who took blame for the crime. It is not my job to go out of my way to portray him in an overly sensitive light, no matter how much baseball fans like his fastball. Not my job to portray him in an overly negative light either. I'm sticking to what the case says. That's how you remain on solid ground and avoid conjecture that may be fantasy-based. If the Mariners want to do PR for him to smooth his transition to Seattle, that's their perogative. But I am not about to do their PR work for them. Sorry.

glmuskie's picture

Or S-points or whatever points to GB for the drive-by and detailed clarifications.  Much appreciated.

Geoff Baker's picture

For Doc,
All of the above. Lincoln and Armstrong trusted Zduriencik to know what was going on with Lueke. But with that trust came the expectation he would be honest and forthright with them if they asked the question beforehand.
If Zduriencik really did not know what happened beforehand, that's a very serious problem. But it's equally serious if he did know beforehand -- as Adair and Daniels suggested -- and deliberately misled his team president and CEO. You can't do that.
Either way, this is now a mess. And there are no clarifications/answers coming from the Mariners about what the heck happened here. Other than stuff that has been contradicted in very blunt, direct, on-the-record quotes. As to which is worse, not knowing the extent of Lueke's transgressions, or knowing and lying about them to your boss, I'll leave that to readers to decide.
One more thing for SABRMatt, Lueke did not plead no contest to avoid further jail while awaiting trial. He was already out on bail and would have remained that way throughout any trial.
Also, Shoeless Joe and Buck Weaver did not admit any wrongdoing because they were acquitted at trial. There was no wrongdoing to admit to. I suppose, they could have made something up to get back in baseball's good graces, but what would that prove? Other than getting themselves brought up on new charges, maybe. :) Last I checked, Rose did admit some guilt in a recent book. 


Think that we have fairly clear info here.  Muchas gracias.  The Lueke melodrama notwithstanding, keep bringin' it Geoff... has been a long, long time since Seattle had a sportswriter like you ...
Next up, another swing at the Carmen Fusco heater...


One more bit of data that I'm unclear on.  I see only one place where you and I are talking past each other.
If Zduriencik really did not know what happened beforehand, that's a very serious problem. But it's equally serious if he did know beforehand -- as Adair and Daniels suggested -- and deliberately misled his team president and CEO. You can't do that.

Are you saying that Armstrong and Lincoln asked Zduriencik, point-blank, "Are there any personal issues with these guys" and that Zduriencik flatly said no?
I had surmised that Z would respond, "Lueke had an issue in the past but it was taken care of and is no big deal," this reply being sincere from Z's point of view.
If Zduriencik was sincere in his opinion that the matter wasn't critical -- and that many other GM's would agree --, then that wouldn't at all be misleading a senior exec.  It would be a miscommunication.  Happens all the time in F-500.
You seem to be assuming that Lueke's crimes are inherently a huge deal to any normal GM or CEO -- since they are to you -- and you seem to be ruling out the possibility that Zduriencik was surprised at Armstrong's reaction.
You have specific hearsay that rules this scenario out?
If you have a sec to tell me where I'm going wrong on that one, I think I'd have more-or-less the total picture.


However, given that the victim can't even remember the night in question, the DNA evidence is irrelevent.  Any good defense attourney could easily claim drunken but consentual sex.
Yes, Lueke accepted responsibility for his actions.  Has the victim?  I hope so.  But the point was not to put the two of them on completely equal footing or condone Lueke's behavior.  THe intention was to point out that his crime was an unfortunately *very common* occurrence and that it shouldn't paint him as a permanent immoral monster.  It's not a matter of giving Lueke a free pass...he paid his debt to society and the Christian thing to do at this point is to allow the kid to try to work past the character faults that led to his criminal record in the first place in a supportive environment.  Part of my view of fairness involves giving both Lueke and his victim a chance to speak and tell their story.  Baker's given the victim a voice...whither Lueke?

Geoff Baker's picture

Yes, Armstrong asked Zduriencik point-blank, the day of the trade, before it had taken place, what the suspension was about. And Zduriencik says he told him it was an incident at a bar involving a woman and her fiance and that Lueke was acquitted.
Except he wasn't. So, did Zduriencik not know the full story, as he says? Which is a little incredible, since the word "acquitted" would conjure up images of a court case and prompt most people to have done at least a cursory Google follow-up. So, if this is true, it speaks to serious lack of dilligence by the entire front office
Or, did Rick Adair tell him the whole deal 10 days before the trade? And maybe Zduriencik chose to ignore it and hope to get it by his boss? Or, maybe he thought his boss wouldn't care all that much? That's not a miscommunication. That's not sharing the truth. So, there are lots of statements hanging out there that don't all reconcile.
Our story asked these questions. The Mariners have yet to answer them. Two weeks later.


Written by Kelley, the story is that the Rangers told Zduriencik that Lueke was acquitted.  Kelley runs with the "sloppiness" accusation vs. the M's for the Rangers' mistake.
Your article here in the Times Geoff corroborates the idea that the Rangers said "acquitted" when what the Rangers meant was, "resolved."
I think we're getting this triangulated, ya.  Your post here is consistent with your article above.  Just checking if there was additional info -- I wouldn't call that new info beyond your article (which was, technically speaking, diligent reporting IMHO).


I do think it's kind of a shame that Z feels the need to lie to his bosses because he wants to go acquire talent and his bosses don't care about talent.  That's a story that should get thrown at the bosses full force.


I go back to what I've said on this from the beginning.  Geoff is hunting for front-office accountability and he's using Lueke's past crime, present situation and future career as his crowbar to lever some cracks in management's claims.  It's not a straight portrayal of all the facts, just the ones that suit the argument and presented to put Lueke in the poor light his actions have allowed. 
Because Lueke pled no-contest, he is a criminal.  That's a fact.  Whether taking a plea for 42 days in jail over his potential several year sentence if convicted at trial is a reasonable thing to do is not discussed.  He lied to cops and his DNA was evident.  Whether he did or did not do the crime would be left to the judgment of 12 people getting incomplete facts and believing one side or the other in the he-said, she-said testimony. 

The interesting angle for Baker is the front-office disconnect beween what Jack knew (or should have known) and what he told Chuck and Howard.  He had limited space and an argument to present, so he lined up his ducks and started shooting.
I agree, that's interesting.
But the way Lueke is presented in the article is brutal.  It helps the angle and keeps the heat on Jack, but it doesn't explain why Lueke might have chosen to take a plea, or ask anyone who knows him to defend him as he pleads in the article.  And that's okay, to a point.  Lueke's purpose in the article is to be a criminal, and his crimes are what were either miscommunicated or lied about by or to Jack Zduriencik.  Lueke is not the story, he's the angle.
I agree with Geoff, it's not his job to be a PR man for the Mariners.  They have other guys (ones who should be fired) who should be doing that and are repeatedly dropping the ball.
I just hate seeing Lueke be the crowbar and take the beating.  He took the plea, he admitted guilt, so he can't say, "I don't deserve this."  From Geoff's article it's apparent that the girl involved didn't have it any easier.  It's not Baker's job, as he says, to soft-peddle.
But I don't like other people's misery being used on a headhunting mission.  Sometimes that's the only lever available, but if stories are gonna be written about Lueke (or the girl) I'd prefer they be about them and not just capitalizing on their situation to make someone else look bad.
I hope the Ms get off their lazy, incompetent butts and get in front of this at SOME point instead of hoping it blows over.  It's not going to blow over.  If Lueke gets a promotion in September, it'll come up.  If he goes to Spring Training, it'll come up.  If he cracks the 25 man, it'll come up.  When he pitches, when he wins or loses, when he goes to opposing'll be there.  What he did, how the Mariners handled the trade and the revelations, it'll all be there.
If we trade Lueke for a bag of baseballs it'll still be there.  Smoak is with us as part of that trade, as is Beavan.  When those guys get mentioned, Lueke will be too.
They'd better start dealing with it.  Geoff's not gonna let it go.  It's a story, and if they want that story to be told with a different angle than the one Baker's using, then they'd better find one and present it - and keep presenting it.
Or Lueke's head is gonna be up there next to Fusco's and probably Zduriencik's by the time this whole thing is done.  If Jack flat-out lied to his bosses, he's in trouble.  If they can't come to a resolution on it (assuming Fusco wasn't the resolution) and show both resolution and resolve with Lueke's situation, it's all going to end badly.
Jack screwed up.  Baker called him on it.  As Geoff said, it's been 2 weeks and it's still Jack's move.
The clock's ticking.


The Mariners are saying nothing, and this bothers Geoff a lot too. He put this major story together, he faced the Seattle sports community with the facts as he saw them (whatever you think of his handling of Leuke himself), and yet the Mariners continue to act as if this is not a matter for public discussion. I rarely listen to KJR anymore, but I caught Baker on with Mitch on Tuesday morning, and Baker kept coming back to this's been two weeks now and the Mariners have not said word one to rebut or comment on Baker's original article. Baker stokes the fire more...he obtains and publishes an internal email from Howard Lincoln that demonizes the press and rallies the troops in the bunker...the public silence continues. Geoff is dumbfounded at the Seattle sports media and the Mariners' attempts to play the kind of game they've been able to get away with in this town for too many years.
Then this morning Shannon Dreyer finally comes up with the 'Mariners are good guys' piece everyone's been expecting from her, suggesting that Howard and Chuck's critics have failed to offer any alternative plans to improve the team. She buys hook line and sinker into the "they're really, really trying hard" line of approach, and she fails to mention the fundamental fact that all their hard trying has produced nothing in the way of results. She does not really deal with the Leuke situation.
I support Geoff in his attempt to jar this community out of its complacency, but like G_Money I definitely do NOT like his unbalanced handling of Leuke as a person. Claiming it's not his job to do Mariners PR, he proceeds to run with his own underlying biases as to how Leuke ought to be perceived and presented. That presentation has no balance at all, and the risk of being a Mariners shill has absolutely nothing to do with it. Geoff goes full-bore on the dark side of the story, and it is definitely dark. But it does not suit his purpose of putting heat on the M's brass, as G says, to balance that out with ANY sort of profile on the man. Leuke is not a man, to Geoff. He is a RAPIST. End of story. But if that truly WAS the story, the whole story, then neither the Rangers or the Mariners would have had anything to do with him, period. That is NOT the whole story. Or does Baker think that the Mariners in order to be consistent ought to be purity itself but it's OK for any other team in baseball to routinely keep rapists on their roster because they can throw a baseball? The contrast does not make sense. If Leuke was the pariah Baker makes out NOBODY would touch him. Am I wrong?


Just finished it up last night.  Loved it overall.  Too bad they had to cut it short.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.