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Boers: Luke Heimlich's Hideous History Ought To Outweigh His Baseball Career

Heimlich is a touted prospect who was convicted of sexual assault as a minor.

June 01, 2018 - 3:36 pm
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By Terry Boers--

(670 The Score) So which Luke Heimlich maneuver would you take if you were running a Major League Baseball team?

Would you ignore the Oregon State pitcher's completely horrid past and take him in the upcoming amateur draft?

Or would you choose the path proudly carved out by Rangers general manager Jon Daniels? He's already told the world that his organization has absolutely no interest in selecting Heimlich, generally regarded by scouts as no less than a second-round talent with a great upside.

It must be noted here that Daniels is the same executive who signed reliever Matt Bush, who ran over a motorcycle driver in 2012 and left him for dead on a Florida street. Bush was later given a DUI and served time in prison.

Still, there appears little doubt that Daniels' view is probably shared by most everyone else in MLB. For those who don’t know, the downside of the 6-foot-1, 197-pound left-hander Heimlich is way, way, way down. Down to where the scum of the earth can be found circling the drain. Down to where many consider him to be even worse than those convicted of murder.

Heimlich pled guilty as a minor (he was 15) to the charge of felony molestation. The victim? His six-year-old niece. Although Heimlich has long ago retracted that admission, claiming he never did any such an act, little sympathy or belief has come his way, even from his own family.

His brother, the father of the little girl, no longer speaks to him. The mother, meanwhile, is every bit as adamant about his guilt, noting the story her daughter told was too graphic, too rich in detail to be a lie. She believes 100 percent that Heimlich is guilty.

Heimlich denies that.

"I always denied that anything ever happened," Heimlich told the New York Times. "Even after I pled guilty, which was a decision me and parents thought was the best option to move forward as a family. And after that, even when I was going through counseling and treatment, I maintained my innocence the whole time."

The Portland Tribune was also given a report from Heimlich's therapist, who swears that he has always claimed to be innocent of all charges, despite the aforementioned plea of guilty.           

Are you uncomfortable yet? I have been since I first read the brilliant piece in Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago. I’m talking about skin-crawling, anger-inducing bile I generally save for only the lowest forms of the human species. You know who you are, Richard, Charles, O.J. ... but that’s really a much longer, more complicated list.

But this isn’t just pick and hate. I don’t have any daughters, but I have two young granddaughters. I know what my reaction would be if anyone ever touched either of them. As a rule, I’ve learned not to discuss that side of me. It’s better that way for all concerned.

That said, Oregon State just wishes everyone would be quiet and let Heimlich pitch, something he’s been excelling at for years, despite the negativity that follows him around like an angry volcano, spewing molten fan and Twitter reaction across the board.

Oregon State coach Pat Casey has been Heimlich’s strongest advocate, telling the world that not only is the kid a runaway talent, he’s also been a "model citizen" from the time he arrived on campus.

Heimlich’s mom and dad have also remained ardent supporters, steadfastly staying on his side of the argument and enjoying every moment of his success.

My guess is the family holidays in the past several years have been rather lonely affairs. A house divided doesn’t welcome guests.

The Beavers are ranked among the top five teams in the country and certainly must be considered a major threat to win the national championship, given Heimlich’s gift, which had him 14-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings at last glance. Those are first-round pick numbers. And don’t forget his fastball, which has consistently sat in the 92-94 mile-per-hour range with movement. At times it’s been clocked at 96.

Still, it appears that no team will dare make that move in either of the first two rounds.

The question is simple: Will anyone take him anywhere in the draft?

It’s possible that the answer to that might have been yes 10 years ago, maybe even as few as five years ago if you want to push it.

But we all know times have changed. Sportswriters no longer can ignore the tougher moral questions about the people they cover. Many take a hardline stance these days, bowing to the pressure of times and the power of the Internet. I know that in the old days, before everyone knew just about everything that was going on, sportswriters weren’t averse to turning the other cheek to certain nocturnal habits that the athletes they covered might have had on a regular basis.

Nothing illegal, mind you, but just stuff the wife back at home might not have wanted to know. But that was their business.

I had to deal with a difficult story early in my career of covering the Bulls after they drafted Quintin Dailey out of the University of San Francisco in 1982. He was convicted of sexually assaulting a nursing student in a dorm room. The woman told authorities that Dailey was drunk and threatened her with a weapon. She added Dailey didn't rape her.

That meant everywhere the Bulls went, including training camp in Peoria, angry women’s groups were soon to follow. In addition, anonymous callers threatened his life on a consistent basis.

I'd be the first to admit that I wasn’t very good with that story. There’s something about sexual assault that makes me twitchy to this very minute. And I don’t think most media members would disagree, but today there are many who lap up that kind of controversy, who’ve made their mark by screaming their opinions from the mountains out to the sea.

I can’t honestly say if Heimlich is going to be drafted or if he’s going to get snubbed as many suspect he will. I probably shouldn’t even try to pass judgment on him, but I’ve been convinced for years now that a mother’s sense of things is almost always correct. Of course, no one is perfect.

So let me go on the record here. Unless Heimlich is somehow proved to be innocent, he won’t be taken in the draft by anyone. The metrics aren’t just wrong. They’re hideous.

Terry Boers was a longtime sports writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and a host on 670 The Score from the station’s inception in 1992 until he retired in January 2017.