Baseball star's debt to society will last his whole life
Okay, it's my turn.
For more than a week now, pundits locally and even nationwide have taken swings at the recent hot-button sports topic that transcends sport itself; Luke Heimlich.
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Heimlich, he's Oregon State's baseball standout, Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, and likely – until last week's MLB draft – high round draft pick slated to make a couple million after signing on the professional dotted line. Oh, and one more thing: A convicted sex offender.
You can find the details with a simple google search, but in a nutshell; he committed and confessed to a heinous act at the age of 15, jumped through the proper hoops in the aftermath, and slid quietly into Corvallis with a baseball scholarship and a platform to chase his major league dream.
All's well, right? Not since an Oregonian reporter discovered his past in the midst of researching an article on the budding superstar, which turned-up a violation of him failing to report in Benton County, which in turn led to the discovery of the previously mentioned heinous act. Since, he's left the No. 1-ranked Beaver baseball team, was bypassed by all 30 MLB teams through more than 40 rounds of last week's draft, and is left merely hoping to be able to return to Oregon State next year to finish his degree and play his final year of college baseball.
So what's my take? I don't know.
There's no defense for what he did. That I know. Nor is there a shelf-life on the pain he ultimately inflicted on his victim. Crimes of that nature take at a level only victims can understand, and attempts by me or others to relate to such are quite simply futile. But then I ask myself; at what point is someone allowed to move beyond a mistake they made when they were 15? And what is sufficient punishment for a perpetrator who by all accounts has paid his legal dues?
Does Heimlich pay for the rest of his life? Some will say yes because his victim will do the same, while others will ask; what good comes from debilitating someone's effort to do better?
I recently spoke to a low-level sex offender about this very thing. I asked him his thoughts and listened carefully to his response. He owns his crime and understands the anger of outsiders looking in, but also frustratingly scoffed at the notion that in any way Heimlich is getting off the hook.
"Me, Heimlich, and others in our shoes will pay for our crime every day for the rest of our lives," he said.
And that's the truth. They'll have a hard time ever getting a good job. Will never get ahead. And try explaining that plight to a girl on a first date. They're modern day lepers cast aside by society, and in Heimlich's case, because of something he did before he could even drive a car.
So what's the right answer to this very complicated question? I don't have it. Maybe he doesn't get to play baseball? Maybe he no longer gets to go to school at OSU? Or maybe he gets to do both in an effort to move beyond his mistake and be an example of what people who do what he's done can become, if allowed to do so?
The law has done its part, I guess now society will decide.