May 25, 2013
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
They're protesting public funding for the Marlins' ballpark down in Miami:
Given my leanings on issues like this I'd like to think that this represented something important, but really, protesting is a dead art. These days no one moves anyone in mass about much of anything. Instead, you issue press releases and make sure that your smallish group fills up the five seconds of TV air time the locals allot you. As such, you never know if a movement is truly a groundswell or simply an assemblage of motivated fringe types.
I hope this sort of thing actually moves Miami-Dade officials to say no to the stadium, but I kind of doubt it will.
If you would have asked me three months ago whether it would more likely that Manny Ramirez or Jeff Weaver had a job come mid-February, I would not have bet on Jeff Weaver. Of course, I would have lost that bet.
Legislation geeks -- and I know you exist and read this blog -- will be interested to know that the Congressional Research Service (i.e. the outfit which does all of Congress's research) is working to make its reports available to the public. One of the reports made public last week was the report that ultimately led to the enactment of the Curt Flood Act of 1998, which stripped the owners of its antitrust exemption in the area of labor matters.
Like the steroid stuff, you'll either think it's really cool or it will bore you to tears, but I made it my mission long ago to bother everyone at one time or another, so there you are.
(thanks to reader Redsauce for the link)
I know everyone wants to talk about real baseball right now, but this blog has always followed the news, and the news just seems to be going this way lately:
Former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada was charged today with lying to congressional investigators about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
He will later be charged by the ESPN Outside the Lines police force for not responding to inquiries about his age last year.
Ya think it's a coincidence that both this and the A-Rod leak are happening all a couple of weeks before the Bonds trial? I sure don't. In fact, I can almost see this as an orchestrated operation in order to bolster the opening and closing statements of the Bonds prosecutors. Rather than refer to lies about a raid five years ago, the prosecutor can stand up and say "this was no innocent lie! The headlines in just the past month show that the scourge of steroids is as rampant as ever! Like A-Rod and Tejada, Bonds is a ballplayer who thinks he's above the law and worked to thwart an important government investigation!"
Now excuse me, I'm off to adjust my tinfoil.
(thanks to Shane S. for the link)
I'm bumping this back up to the top because I have an update in response to several good comments and I want to explain my thinking further. Scroll down to the update to see it.
Via Maury, the MLBPA has issued a statement regarding the destruction, or lack thereof, of the 2003 tests:
We are issuing this statement today to respond to two questions that have been raised in the last few days in connection with reports about Alex Rodriguez and the 2003 MLB testing program. First, it has been asked why the results from our 2003 survey tests were not destroyed before they were seized by the government in the spring of 2004. The short answer is that in November, 2003, before that could take place, a grand jury subpoena for program records was issued. . .
The real question -- and I'm guessing someone has already answered this already, but I can't seem to find it -- is what that November 19, 2003 subpoena actually sought. My understanding is that it sought the results for the BALCO 10, and not every player in baseball. This squares with Jon Heyman and Mark Fainaru-Wada's reports that, after the subpoena, the MLBPA litigated the crap out of things for months, and then and only then did the feds swear out a search warrant for the test results of all players.
If that was the case -- and please, someone correct me if I'm wrong -- Fehr is being disingenuous here, because it means that A-Rod and every other non-BALCO player's results were not subject to a subpoena at that time and thus could have been legally destroyed. Yes, I presume someone could make the argument that destroying non-subpoenaed records when a subset of those records had been subpoenaed is a dangerous game, but as subsequent court rulings have shown -- and common sense could have dictated at the time -- the non-BALCO player's records had no place whatsoever in the underlying litigation, and were not discoverable/seizeable/whatever. And I will not accept a response that goes "well, we kept them around out of an abundance of caution." Maybe you do that with ordinary documents when a subset is subpoenaed, but MLBPA had affirmative legal duties with respect to the non-subpoenaed records. First, to keep them confidential, second to destroy them. Those duties at least equal any duty to vastly overpreserve records in response to a subpoena of dubious enforceability to begin with.
So again, if I am wrong about the timeline here, someone please correct me. If I'm not, Fehr has some more explaining to do than this.
UPDATE: Several commenters and emailers have taken me to task for counseling such a cavalier approach to document destruction. The gist of these comments: True, the non-BALCO samples were not technically in the subpoena, but surely you're not so reckless as to have destroyed something related to the subpoenaed items, are you? No wonder you're unemployed you unethical jackass!
OK, no one said that last part because you're all polite, but that's where it's heading. Anyway, here's my response:
I don't think they should have just destroyed the non-subpoenaed samples without thought, because yes, that is risky. However, the fact remains that the MLBPA had duties to the all of the players -- especially the non-BALCO players -- to protect their confidentiality and to eventually destroy the samples. As such, merely saying "let's hold these samples indefinitely and see how it plays out because we'd hate to run afoul of a future subpoena" was irresponsible. It elevated a potential future duty above an actual current duty, and that's not acceptable.
But it's true: you dance with the devil whenever you destroy anything that you can one day imagine being subpoenaed. But when presented with these two incompatible options, rather than simply ignore the duty to the players, why didn't the MLBPA ask the court for guidance? Why didn't they file a dec action -- or at the very least request a conference with the judge -- in which they (a) explained their duty to destroy the records that were not subject to the BALCO subpoeana; and (b) explained that in carrying out that duty, they don't want to run afoul of any future claim by the government that the records were necessary to a prosecution. In other words, why didn't they say "Help us Court!"
If they had done that, at that point the government would have to come in and make the argument for the relevance of and necessity for the non-BALCO samples. Which, as subsequent history shows, they wouldn't have been able too (they've been ruled as improperly seized and not-relevant). If the court had ruled in favor of the MLBPA, they could have destroyed them. If the court had ruled in favor of the government, well, at least the players would have had a lot more advance warning of the possibility that their samples were compromised. If the court couldn't decide at that early time whether the records were relevant it could have taken possession of the samples and held them in safe keeping until the matter became clearer.
But none of that was ever on the table. Rather, the MLBPA just sat on their current obligations to the players in deference to a hypothetical later subpoena. With the playing field wide open, the government took the initiative and seized the non-BALCO records. From that point forward, the MLBPA had to play defense instead of offense, with the consequences being the leak we just had. Personally speaking, I find that unacceptable.
Yesterday I dismissed the notion that the A-Rod stuff would have a negative impact on the Yankee brand, as it were. I still believe that, but that doesn't mean that there won't be some repercussions in fanland. I am far too old and lame to understand how social networks actually work, but THT's own Bryan Tsao -- whose day job is to design sports-related apps for you young hipsters to plug into the Facebook and the Prodigy and the GEOS and whatnot -- has noticed something interesting:
Well, it just so happens that here at Watercooler, we have a New York Yankees fan community across the major social networks that allow users to express their fandom. And here is a table with the total number of users with our application installed, along with the number of new users added per day for the past two weeks [table delted here because I keep messing up the formatting, but click through to see it]
I'm not sure what's better: democracy or statistical analysis.
I'm not sure what to make of Alex Rodriguez's claim that Selena Roberts "stalked" him in the leadup to this weekend's story, but it's certainly the case that Rodriguez has been in Roberts' sights for a long time. Let's take the wayback machine to December 7, 2007, when Roberts ran a hatchet job on A-Rod in the pages of the New York Times.
For those of you too busy or too lazy to click the link, the upshot was that Roberts snooped around A-Rod's Miami business and charitable interests and found some mildly unflattering things. The article itself, however, was full of over-the-top bombast and even distortion, all of which made Roberts' disdain for Rodriguez abundantly clear.
Like I said, it doesn't detract from the current story, which appears to be straight up and factual, but it certainly should put us on guard for what Roberts writes in order to capitalize on this big scoop. Like, say, the A-Rod book she has written and which will soon be published.
I certainly wouldn't want to be Alex Rodriguez right now, but it would be way better to be him than whoever it was dropped the dime on him:
The judge in the Barry Bonds perjury case could find BALCO prosecutors, investigators or officials in contempt if evidence connects them to the leak of formerly anonymous 2003 Major League baseball drug tests that resulted in allegations that Alex Rodriguez took steroids.
In any event, I sure hope Selena Roberts is enjoying her victory lap over her scoop, because she may very soon find herself in front of Judge Illston being ordered to reveal her sources.
What to read while trying to get your mind around the fact that a guy who makes more than $25 million a year casually uses the term "loosey-goosey." Yes, the rich are different than you and me:
In closing, I'd just like to say how sorry I am for what happened back in December when I fist came to THT. Back then it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive, and I wanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth, you know — and being one of the greatest bloggers of all time. When I arrived at THT, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day. And I did take a banned substance -- Mrs. Shyster doesn't allow Red Bull in the house, but I drank it anyway.
And, you know, for that I’m very sorry and deeply regretful. And although it was the blogging culture back then, you know, I’m just sorry. I’m sorry for that time. I’m sorry to reader. It wasn’t until then that I ever thought about energy drinks of any kind.