May 25, 2013
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Fun time in Cincinnati last night! First it was Jeff Brantley professing his admiration for Ted DiBiase, then some fine folks from my town decided to go all Rick Dempsey on us:
During a lengthy rain delay at Tuesday night’s Cincinnati Reds game, two men jumped from the stands onto the field – one of them flopping onto the tarp covering the infield and sliding on his belly. Cory Allen, 20, of Columbus and Casey Allen, 25, of Hilliard, Ohio, are facing charges of criminal trespassing and obstructing official business. If they are related was not clear. About 8 p.m., one of the men ran onto the field, reports said. He executed the belly flop to loud applause and tried to run away, but slipped on the wet outfield grass and was apprehended. He was led away in handcuffs. The other man ran onto the field, jumped back into the stands, but later ran on the field again. He again jumped back in the stands, but was surrounded and apprehended.
Put differently, these men could conceivably get four times longer in jail than Donte Stallworth is getting for killing a guy while drunk driving.
Buster Olney's contribution to the post-Sosa world, couched in the notion that the clean players like Raul Ibanez should be outraged at the steroid users:
Ibanez and others should say out loud that as far as they're concerned, cheating should not be tolerated. Insist that the drug-testing penalties be given sharper teeth. Demand that one positive test means a voided contract and a year out of baseball, and a second strike means a lifetime ban.
Question: given all of the below-market early deals these days, might such a thing not actually create an incentive for some players to take steroids, at least for one season? Would Evan Longoria -- who's scheduled to make $550,000 this year -- be better or worse off financially if he had his current contract voided, spent the rest of this summer and next spring playing for the Long Beach Armada (note: Longoria is from Long Beach) and was allowed to re-enter the game as a free agent just before the 2010 All-Star break? Sure there's some risk there, but I submit that he'd stand to make a minimum of a hundred million dollars more by getting his current contract voided and sitting out a year than he would be to walk the straight and narrow with the Rays. So too would many other 0-6-year players, actually, at least assuming that "voiding the contract" didn't mean that the team still retained control over the player. Which it would pretty have too, wouldn't it?
Of course, I may be overestimating the extent to which Buster is thinking this one through . . .
UPDATE: To be fair, this quote came in the course of Buster's thoughts on the Jerod Morris--Raul Ibanez affair, and to his credit, I think Buster gets it right for the most part.
This morning I wrote a post that, among other things, lauded the legal counsel Sammy Sosa appears to have been given in advance of his Congressional testimony in 2005. I said this:
[Sosa] said "To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs." He said "I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything." He said "I have not broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean." All of those statements allow for the possibility that he used substances that were legal in the Dominican Republic that would have been illegal to use in the United States.
In response, the always able, always game Jack Marshall offered this:
A point and a question, Craig.
I said in the comments that I'd offer a response, and for purposes of clarity (and not mucking up an already longish comments thread) I'll offer it here. While it comes as a direct response to Jack, anyone and everyone is encouraged to chime in, of course.
I guess I'd start by once again saying that I am not particularly shocked that Sosa, apparently, tested positive in 2003. Moreover, while I can't say I levelled any heavy judgement on Sosa at the time of his testimony, neither was I of the view that he was being particularly deceptive. McGwire's words made it pretty obvious that he had used, but it was only a few weeks later when Rafael Palmiero was busted that I considered that Sosa would have the chutzpah to lie to Congress. I wasn't blogging then, so I didn't make a point of parsing his words. I think the most I did was make a mental note to wonder what would happen if he, like Palmiero, came up with a positive test. That happened yesterday, and it represents the first time I looked back at his statements. As I said in the earlier post, those statements all allow for the possibility that he (a) took steroids in the D.R. and (b) was still telling the truth. It wasn't a moral approval of the tack he took before Congress. It was merely an appreciation that, technically speaking, that tack may have saved Sosa from committing perjury. I called it "art," which is what I assume set you off.
But to answer your charge, I don't find the "art" in Sosa's statements in their success at providing "a slam-dunk rebuttal." They don't, as anyone who parses language for a living like we do readilly understands. We now know, with yesterday's news, that Sosa was being verry careful in front of Congress, and someone walking that tightrope hasn't really rebutted anything, let alone in slam dunk fashion. But like I said, his words did, I feel, prevent him from committing perjury, and keeping him clear of a perjury rap and/or drug rap and out of dutch with Baseball was what his lawyer was hired to do in that situation. Let his P.R. people deal with whether or not we think Sosa is a bad person or a liar in the general sense. The lawyer did his job, however much we may not like his job and all it entails. You mention the Fifth Amendment -- I submit that if Sosa's PED use was limited to legal drug use in the D.R., any assertion of the Fifth Amendment would itself be improper, but maybe that's another conversation.
As for the ethical argument you do raise: we could argue whether "making a statement that is literally true but designed to deceive casual listeners into thinking it means something very different from what it really does mean" is the actual definition of "deceit" for purposes of Rule 8.4, but I don't think that's necessary. First off, as you note, that rule applies to lawyers, not lay persons, so it's meaningless in this context. Second, Sosa was testifying before Congress, under oath. Congress has counsel and most congressmen are lawyers themselves, all of whom had carte blanche to challenge Sosa about anything he said, and the ability to back it up with criminal sanctions if they felt he was being untruthful. That's not "the casual listener" as far as I'm concerned. I'm going to assume that, like you, several members of Congress and their counsel heard some questionable qualifying from Sosa that day. The fact that no one pressed him on it suggests that no one felt like they were being deceived by anything.
The question of why a player would take the test in 2003 was answered in the other thread, but to save people from clicking back, the 2003 survey testing was "voluntary" only to the extent that the Players' Union agreed to the program and its consequences. Under it, every player was tested druing spring training -- twice, actually -- and then an additional control group of 240 players was tested later in the season. As many players admitted at the time, there was a P.R. calculus to this in that, if the percentage of positives were low, the people going around and claiming that large percentages of players were using could be shouted down, and if the numbers were high and thus mandatory testing kicked in, hey, at least there was some rational basis for it beyond media hysteria. However cynical a calculation it was in the first instance, the fact that players knew the tests would come in March and more than 5% still tested positive indicates just how deluded some of these guys were.
Things I wrote while struggling to come up with any ballplayer who, if implicated as a PED user, would truly surprise me. Maddux, maybe. Bob Horner. Lolich.
Will Carroll said something really interesting about the Sosa stuff over at Prospectus last night:
I've always followed the steroid story as something of an epidemic. It often follows the same models, centering around hubs and nodes. The hubs are players like Jose Canseco or Bill Romanowski in the NFL who were evangelists for the substances, but the nodes are usually the drug distributors. The Bay Area had BALCO, Baltimore had their "star", and Dallas had their Hollywood connection, while the NFL had doctors in Pittsburgh and Charlotte, among others, who were willing to supply. Chicago, however, doesn't have this issue or at least hasn't. Looking at the Cubs roster in 2003 and a year previous, there's *no one* that tested positive or that has even had much speculation surrounding their production. It will be interesting to see if the 2003 list shows such a cluster existed or if Sosa was one of few singular users.
If I had to guess, I'd say that there is a Dominican Republic cluster, as by all accounts, steroids are far more readilly available down there than here. As you'll recall, almost all of the Mitchell report users were revealed via their American dealers. It's quite possible that there were and are many steroids users who obtained their PEDs from pharmacies in San Pedro de Macorís as opposed to the Kirk Radomski's of the world.
Which leads to another interesting thing: the perjury angle. As you'll recall, Sammy Sosa testified to Congress a few years ago. Today, many are wondering whether he will be subject to criminal scrutiny for saying, under oath, that he didn't do steroids.
Except he never said that. He said "To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs." He said "I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything." He said "I have not broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean." All of those statements allow for the possibility that he used substances that were legal in the Dominican Republic that would have been illegal to use in the United States.
I've said in the past that, contrary to the naysayings of others, Sosa was well-advised to have used an interpreter during his Congressional testimony. In light of yesterday's news, this is even more true, because it now appears that he needed to thread a very tiny needle to keep himself out of legal jeopardy. From what I can see, he threaded it brilliantly, and as a fellow shyster, my hat is off to whoever advised Sammy back in 2005 for pulling off what I can only call a work of legal art.
Note: I'm giving this post from yesterday a bump for two reasons: First, it was posted kind of late, and a lot of people don't scroll back past ATH on a given day, so it's "new" to a lot of readers; Second, because Geoff Baker his ownself waded into the comments thread last night. I think that's kind of cool and think that maybe some folks would like to read that too.
Geoff Baker got mad last week when a blogger waded into waters he feels that only professionals like Geoff Baker should be wading. Today he wades into my waters:
Here's a primer on U.S. libel law and how it relates to blogging, in case you're interested. It should be required reading for any blogger in this country.
I was going to write about 1000 words aping his piece from last week, substituting the dangers of amateurs engaging in the business of lawyering for his take on amateurs engaging in the business of professional journalism, but I couldn't keep a straight face. I'm actually fine with Baker writing about this stuff because (a) it's not rocket science; and (b) he's right. Like I said last week, you've got to get your facts right if you're going to get into the accusation business. That goes for bloggers too, and like Baker, I am similarly not impressed with the argument that a blogger can be looser with things if he's only writing for a small, friendly audience (not that Jerrod Morris was being "loose" in my estimation).
But beyond that, Baker remains off his nut. Last week I (and many others) noted that Baker himself seemed to be doing far worse than Jerod Morris was doing when he suggested that the entire 2003 Seattle Mariners team had been on steroids. Today he defends himself:
Now, this may seem like the same thing to a lot of you, but there are important differences. The most obvious is that no individual was singled out. Believe me, this was intentional. There are ways to approach topics like this, to hint at stuff that may or may not have been going on, but it requires subtlety, not a sledgehammer.
I suppose that's fine if all you care about is avoiding legal liability for defamation -- and even then I'm not sure that the Mariners as a team wouldn't have an action for some sort for business disparagement or something -- but certainly that's not the operative ethical standard, is it? Anything is fair game as long as there's an "out?" That's not what Baker seemed to be all worked up about in his original piece. It was all about being tough and accountable and writing with integrity and credibility and all of that. Something greater than mere lawsuit avoidance, at any rate. If anything, Baker's pained rationalization of his February piece directly contradicts his stated belief that looking one's target in the eye matters. His accusation of non-specific Mariners with an "out" built-in is exactly the opposite of looking someone in the eye. It's cowardly ass-covering.
Baker's next point is the freakin' cake topper:
Some of you have asked why I -- and my colleagues -- failed to denounce Rick Reilly for publishing similar things about ballplayers that Morris did. Well, the first answer is, many of my colleagues did denounce Reilly several years back when he challenged Sammy Sosa to take a drug test. Many thought he was unfairly singling Sosa out.
Sorry, I don't cotton to any system with exceptions that so thoroughly swallow the rules as the one Baker sketches out, and that's even when the rules are weak moving targets like those he's proposing. If we are to take Baker seriously, there's a bogey that all of us writing about baseball need to hit -- about thirty years of puff pieces, if I reckon correctly -- and once we hit it, anything is fair game. If I'm wrong about this -- if, for example, I get my license to be irresponsible at, say, 25 years -- I hope that Baker lets me know, because I have a lot of garbage I want to fling at people.
Finally, Baker responds to criticism of his "White Jays" piece from a couple of years ago:
I've had people write in to ask me about my so-called "White Jays'' series of three stories written for the Toronto Star six years ago. What those stories were supposed to be about was how the Blue Jays, after years of pipelining talent from Latin America, had suddenly become a team with the fewest amount of minority players in baseball. At a time when the number of Latin Americans in the game was exploding.
I'm somewhat sympathetic here, because his "White Jays" story, while not his finest hour, wasn't as bad as a lot of people made it out to be. But his explanation of this is instructive: other chefs in the kitchen screwed it up, not Geoff Baker. Kind of undercuts that whole notion he's pushing about the importance and value of all of those editorial layers that separate the pros from the amateurs, doesn't it?
Baker goes on and on and so could I, but we'd never come to agreement on everything. I do hope, however, that we can agree on this: people who write non-fiction for a living need to be accurate and take responsibility for their words no matter who they are and where they write.
Red Sox 8, Marlins 2: David Ortiz continues to heat up, adding a homer and a two-run single to his increasingly improving statline. Tim Wakefield was strong too. From the game story: Wakefield is now two starts and five home wins behind Roger Clemens for the most in Red Sox history in each category. I suppose that's something Boston fans were mostly aware of, but you could stump a decent number of Midwesterners and West Coasters with that, I imagine.
Reds 7, Braves 2: This one had a long rain delay, and when that happens, Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley take calls. I caught a bit of it last night. This is paraphrased, but it's pretty close to how one call went down:
Marty: Hello, you're on Reds radio!
I wish to God I was making that up.
Yankees 5, Nationals 3: Cano went 4-4 and had the tie-breaking hit in the seventh. More game story fun: "[Alex] Rodriguez greeted fans in Monument Park before the game. One spectator told A-Rod he was a Phillies fan but he liked him." I was going to scoff at the inclusion of this, but then I realized that, yes, someone publicly admitting that they like A-Rod does probably qualify as newsworthy.
Rangers 6, Astros 1: Pudge v2.0 ties Pudge v1.0 for most games caught, but this was the Ian Kinsler show (3-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI). And Kevin Millwood (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) is quietly putting up his best season since his he broke out all awesome-like ten years ago.
Cardinals 11, Tigers 2: Verlander proves human after all, posting his worst start since April 17th (4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER). In other news, with a 2-1 lead (1934 & 2006 to 1968) the Cardinals can put this series away with a win this week.
Twins 8, Pirates 2: Some Twins fans took me to task on the NBC blog yesterday for saying that the Tigers looked to be solidly atop a weak division. I still think the Central is fairly weak, but I think I should have waited to declare Detroit solidly atop anything. The Twins are two games back and they have a force of nature on their team. I repeat: The Superman exists, and he's Minnesotan.
Royals 5, Diamondbacks 0: Mechetastic! (SHO, 4 H, 6K). GWRBI from Miguel Olivo. What?
Blue Jays 8, Phillies 3: Ryan Madson blew the save in the ninth, and Clay Condrey barfed the game away in the tenth, allowing five of the six batters he faced to score. Madson and Condrey? Weren't they the original Midnight Express? I'll have to ask Brantley . . .
Mets 6, Orioles 4: Bad defense -- including a dropped popup to Aubrey Huff with which I'm guessing Luis Castillo could sympathize -- doomed the O's.
Brewers 7, Indians 5: Gallardo wasn't efficient -- he threw 61 pitches in the first two innings -- but the Indians didn't cash in on it like they could have and Yovani gutted his way to five and the win. So much enthusiasm for this Indians team in March has devolved into wondering who will trade for Mark DeRosa. Not exactly how Mark Shapiro drew things up.
Quick rundown of the late games because I'm jammed up with other stuff this morning:
Angels 8, Giants 1: Mike Napoli had a three-run homer and three other hits.
Dodgers 5, A's 4: Torre ties Sparky Anderson on the all-time wins list. Anderson still leads Torre in guest starring spots on WKRP in Cincinnatti.
Mariners 5, Padres 0: King Felix rules: Two-hit shutout. Kevin Correia was pretty good himself (8 IP, 2 H, 2 ER), but you can't win if your homies don't score.
Rays 12, Rockies 4: Colorado's winning streak ends. How much longer until the deulsion that they're contenders does too? Transaction junkies want to know.
White Sox at Cubs: Postponed: I can only imagine that having to sit in the Wrigley Field clubhouse during a rain delay makes Ozzie want to puke even more than being in the dugout during a ballagme.