The Life and Times of Mike Leake

April 19, 2011

- See all 763 of my articles

Mike Leake arrived at the 2010 Cincinnati Reds Spring Training camp in the shadow of another young pitcher. The other pitcher was a Cuban refugee named Aroldis Champman, who could light up the radar gun at 103 miles per hour. Mike Leake was merely the 2009 first round draft pick of the Reds. All he had done in college was rack up 40 wins against 6 losses during his career at Arizona State. He was a third team all-american as a freshman, second team as a sophomore, and first teamer in his junior year before being drafted by the Reds (more about draft eligibility here.)

Chapman was sent to the minors before the season began, but Leake – who, like many top picks, did not play in the minors after the draft – jumped straight to the big leagues. This was an unusual move, since this starts the clock ticking on a player’s arbitration and free agency (more about that here), but Leake had won a job in the Reds rotation.

Leake started the year strong before shoulder fatigue caught up with him at the end of the year (not uncommon in young pitchers). Leake finished the year with an 8-4 record. His spot on the 2011 roster was not a certainty, but injuries to other pitchers opened the door, and once again Leake was in the rotation to start the season. On Saturday, he allowed two runs in six innings against the Pirates and running his season record to 2-0.

Mike Leake’s star was rising.

On Monday, Mike Leake was arrested. He is accused of shoplifting six shirts from Macy’s. Total cost of the six American Rag t-shirts? $59.88 (you can get shirts for less than $10 at Macy’s?). While Leake is in the pre-arbitration phase of his major league service , he’s still making a healthy $425,00 this year (are athletes overpaid?) – and I would hope he still had a few bucks left from the $2.3 million signing bonus he got in 2009.

I really struggle with these types of stories. When Leake become arbitration eligible after the 2012 season, the Reds could raise this as an issue during the hearing. It could very well cost Leake hundreds of thousands of dollars. Already, Leake’s reputation has suffered more than $60 in damage.

Yet, this is not the first incident of a celebrity shoplifting. Why do they do it? I doubt it’s the money. Perhaps some are simply kleptomaniacs, but this mental illness is not that common in the general population, so I doubt that this is often the case with celebrities. Is is for the rush – the extra kick of adrenaline from getting away with the crime? Seriously? Staring down Albert Pujols with the game on the line isn’t enough adrenaline?

Anyone else have any explanations?

This article mentions: American Rag

Leave a Reply