The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of The Diamond

The Politics of the Diamond

The Tampa Bay Rays were not supposed to compete this year, after dumping most of their payroll last year. They really weren’t supposed to compete after it was announced that Evan Longoria was injured. They really, really weren’t once Manny Ramirez retired. However, here we are, almost a month into the season, and the Rays are in second place in the AL East.  And Evan Longoria might be coming back soon. []

Tim “The Freak” Lincecum took a no-hitter into the 7th inning last night against the owners of the best record in the National League–the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies finished with four hits and one run. Which is seven runs less than the Giant’s eight. That’s a weird way of saying that the Giants won last night, 8-1, over the Rockies. [ESPN]

The AL Central is the division most  up for grabs in baseball, in my opinion. If the White Sox want to compete for the pennant, they will need Jake Peavy.  Unfortunately, he only managed to throw 15 pitches in his first rehab outing. [Chicago Trib]

The RP has come out against Barry Bonds going to jail.  He now knows who to complain to about Bond’s conviction (the names of the jurors has been released) [Canadian Press]

Reds pitcher Mike Leake has been arrested on charges of shoplifting shirts for Macy’s.  Since this is a website about civility and being nice to people, and this is a story about a Reds player doing something incredibly stupid, I will just leave you with that. [ESPN]

Major League Baseball has one of the most draconian policies on the entire internet when it comes to hosting videos.  No site on the entire web is allowed to host a video of an MLB highlight, and MLB is very vigilant about ensuring these videos stay safe and sound at  This angers baseball and sports bloggers everywhere–and they weren’t about to take that sitting down.  Deadspin has decided to enlist the help of its readers to get reenactments of the previous night’s highlights as performed by youth baseball teams.  The response was overwhelming, and now Deadspin has released a contest where they have asked youth baseball teams to reenact major events in MLB history.  [Original Challenge] [Historical Challenge][Challenge Accepted]

Why Barry Bonds Should NOT Go to Jail

The one thing that I miss least about leaving the political arena is the lying.

If there’s one quality that unites Democrats and Republicans, politicians and the press corps; it is their mutual propensity for, and expectation of, fabrication.

Often, it’s the small lies that wise and wary observers can sniff out before they do harm:  Sure I’ll raise $10,000 for your campaign.  You can count on me to support your cause in the legislature.  My, you look way too young to be a grandmother!  Don’t worry, I’ve had a vasectomy.

Most common is “political spin” which, all too regularly, is simply a euphemism for lying:  Barack Obama is a Socialist.  The Republicans want to hurt poor people.

Every now and then, you encounter stone-cold, pathological liars in the business.  They’re rarer than the profession’s reputation, but I’ve run into too many elected officials, reporters, and political operatives whose every utterance I’ve learned to disbelieve or suffer the consequences.  And I despise it.

But should we put all of these liars into jail?  Of course not.

Yesterday, Barry Bonds was convicted for obstructing justice by lying to a grand jury about his personal steroid use.  (Which begs the question — asked by Dashiell Bennett — how could Bonds be guilty of obstructing justice for lying when the perjury charges against him were rejected by the same jury?)

Note that Bonds was not convicted of — or even charged with — illegal use of steroids.  His entire prosecution was based on his lying about his use, in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to protect his professional reputation.

Bonds is not the cleanest case because steroid use is illegal, and Bonds is such an unlikeable narcissist. 

The most famous example of this controversy is even more polarizing.  Like Bonds, President Bill Clinton lied to the American people and gave controversial answers to a grand jury in order to protect his public reputation. But here, the underlying misbehavior was not illegal.  As Republicans like Newt Gingrich have been quick to assert, the 1998 impeachment was not about the sexual affair — which is not a crime in the District of Columbia — but rather about the President’s lying about it before a grand jury.  While Clinton’s verbal parsing may have technically immunized himself against a perjury conviction, it is clear that he was impeached by the House for lying about underlying behavior that wasn’t a crime. 

As a former member of the Clinton Administration, I’m biased; but I am comfortable saying that, without any partisan considerations, lying about a perfectly legal action should not be the basis of removal from office.  And so did most Americans.

Let’s take an even cleaner case:  that of contributing RP Jeff Smith.  (Again, I admit bias: Jeff is my friend.)  If you’ve read his stunningly candid story on this Web site, you know that Jeff was convicted of lying to federal investigators about whether he had knowledge of a scheme to distribute negative fliers about his campaign opponent.  The underlying behavior may have violated campaign finance rules, but surely did not merit a jail sentence.  And I argue, neither should his lying about it.

Did Jeff deserve to be punished?  Absolutely.  Stripped of his public office?  Perhaps.  But sentenced to serve a one-year term in a jail filled with violent offenders?  I believe the punishment overwhelmingly exceeded the crime. 

Of course, I am not arguing in any way that perjury and/or obstruction of justice should be considered misdemeanors or civil violations in every instance.  Of course, lying to an authority about illegal activity, particularly of a violent nature, must be punished severely.

Nor am I arguing that there should be no punishment whatsoever in these circumstances.  Lying to an authority is wrong; and the offender must be held accountable for his or her actions.

But someone who lies about a non-violent, non-criminal activity, in order to protect his reputation and family — a very natural, human instinct — should not be treated akin to a violent criminal.

I will soon be interviewing Jeff for RPTV to discuss this issue.  But I’d like to know your opinion first: Does lying to a grand jury or an investigator about a legal activity merit a jail sentence?  What are your suggestions for reform?  Or do you like system the way it is?

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the Diamond

Politics of the Diamond

What a terrible day for George W. Bush–Josh Hamilton, brightest star on the Texas Rangers, slid into home and broke his arm.  He’s out six to eight weeks.  If you don’t know much about Hamilton, he has one of the most amazing stories in baseball.  I’ve linked an old interview with HBO’s Real Sports that you ought to watch.  [Lone Star Ball] [Real Sports]

Barry Bonds’ perjury trial is almost finished, as the jury is currently deliberating about charges of him lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice.  I am actually very torn about Barry Bonds.  On one hand, I know he cheated and that is obviously bad.  On the other, lots of people cheated, so why are they coming after Bonds so hard?  More than one person has alleged racism here.  What do you think?  [New York Times]

Here is a heartbreaking story about opening day for baseball in Japan.  I remember after 9/11 when Keith Olbermann spoke about the healing power of baseball.  I don’t remember what he said exactly, but it was something along the lines of baseball being something that keeps us all connected and allows us a respite from sorrow.  Here’s hoping that works at least a little bit in Japan too.  [ESPN]

Have you heard about Brian Stow, the Giants fan who was almost beaten to death outside of Dodger Stadium?  It’s a tragic story–he remains in a medically induced coma.  The Giants have stepped up, raising almost $70,000 for his medical expenses.  It makes me happy to see people being generous.  I won’t lie, though, it makes me kind of sad that we live in a country where baseball teams have to raise money to pay for needed medical care. [USA Today]

“Manny being Manny” is one of my favorite sayings in all of baseball.  Unfortunately, we’ve said it for what will likely be the last time, as Manny Ramirez hung up his cleats for the last time less than a week into the season.  Few players in any sports elicit such strong emotions as Manny Ramirez.  I’ve linked to extremely different articles for you to peruse.  (I think Manny is awesome, but I’m glad he never played for my Cardinals). [Manny Sucks] [Manny Rules]

This is the picture I wanted to use for Politics of the Diamond [LOL]

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