Jason Grill: Great Piece on Tonight’s All Star Game in Kansas City

Great…Great piece — Must read Kansas City. Nice work. [New York Times]

“Hitting the Cycle” Wins Prestigious Award

Big news on the film front:  “Hitting the Cycle,” the baseball-themed film, co-produced by The RP’s sister, Jennifer Miller was named Best Dramatic Feature Film last night at the Manhattan Film Festival.  The film was written and directed by Jennifer’s high school classmate Richey Nash, and co-stars the legendary Bruce Dern.

Here’s the trailer:

The RP: Read “The Art of Fielding” NOW.


Click here to purchase this book. NOW!

It’s rare that I have the opportunity to recommend a book — much less have the time to read one — but I’ve just run across the best work of fiction that I’ve started to consume in some time.

It’s called The Art of Fielding; it’s written by a first time novelist, Chad Harbach; and even after I was able to pry myself from the book to get a little writing done myself, I had a very difficult time trying to stop thinking about it.

Indeed, that’s what the book is about.  Although I have only completed half of it, I have never read anything that so brilliantly dissects and examines and illuminates that little voice in your head that won’t stop talking and that leads you do stupid things like insult a friend, run a red light, or throw an errant baseball.

While the subtext of the book revolves around the baseball diamond — befitting today’s debate about Roger Clemens — it is a deeply introspective piece that tells many truths about human behavior and relationships that you don’t first expect.  And it has done the impossible, by convincing me to pick up Moby Dick for the first time since I was my youngest daughter’s age.

But first, I will finish The Art of Fielding, and I will have a more complete review when I’m actually done.

But wanted to take this opportunity to encourage the RP Nation to read it and share your thoghts.  Maybe we will even have an online book club.  Join me.

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Zac Byer Bats Sixth

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

A few random musings first…

Original RP:  Saying Ryan Braun is your favorite Jewish ballplayer is like saying Tiger is your favorite black golfer!  Unless you’re talking historically, and then I’ll send you a few clips of Sandy Koufax from 1963…and ’65…and ’66.

-I’m ready for Artur to write a book titled Let Me Tell You Something Profound About Nearly Everything.  Forget your next campaign — I want to catch a game with you

-2013 RP Fantasy League anyone?

I’ve been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in a family that shared LA Dodger season tickets helped that cause.  And I think because of my connection with the Dodgers, I’m largely a baseball purist.  We’ve got the only symmetrical ballpark in the National League.  Our beloved stadium just turned a cool 50 years old (some of the Dodger Dogs taste like they’re pushing 50, too).  And there’s no smoother voice in baseball – heck, sports – than Vin Scully.

I guess as a Dodger fan it’s natural to be anti-PED and anti-steroid.  Barry Bonds crushed us for years and Braun made out like a bandit when he won Matt Kemp’s MVP award last year.  It’s probably why Griffey Jr. is my favorite player I grew up watching.  Yet now, as I think back to all the games I’ve been to, a few moments stand out (there haven’t been many great Dodger moments since ’88):

-Watching Mark McGwire hit balls OUT of Dodger Stadium during batting practice.  I don’t mean out of the stadium, into the bleachers.  I mean OUT of the stadium, into the parking lot.  Big Mac did it once during a game – the only two others to ever do it over the last 50 years have been Willie Stargell and Mike Piazza.

-Watching Barry Bonds absolutely mash.  Each of his home runs against the Dodgers sucked a little more life out of me.  And yet I always felt like watching Bonds would be the closest thing I’d ever get to watching Babe.

-Watching Eric Gagne make some of the best hitters look like career AA bullpen catchers.  He’d run in from Left Field to “Welcome to the Jungle,” and just like our Gagne shirts said, we knew it was “Game Over.

-Watching Clemens deal.  I’ve never been so entranced watching a starting pitcher.  It’s one thing to sit on the edge of your seat in Loge 131 Row K and secretly hope to see Bonds go yard.  It’s another to sit there crossing your fingers for Rocket to hit 97 on the gun and pitch one more inning.  I remember that he didn’t throw for too long, but it was 6 or 7 of the most calculatingly brilliant innings I’ve seen a pitcher toss.

I don’t have to tell you what all of these guys have in common.  Does it disappoint me?  Without question.  Has baseball ever been as exciting as it was from the mid-90s to the Mitchell Report?  No way.  Look what’s happening now.  Football is now America’s Game.  Kids are growing up playing lacrosse instead of playing catch.  And the dollars and cents of baseball continue to get hammered, as season ticket bases erode and people stay home to watch games on their plasma TVs.

So put Clemens in the Hall so I can tell my kids about the game I saw him pitch.  And I’ll tell them about steroids, I’ll tell them about how exciting baseball was back then and how devastating some of the claims were.  And then we’ll go out and play catch and everything will be fine.”

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Rod Jetton in the 5 Hole

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

Yes, Roger Clemens should be admitted and given an extra award for being dragged through the dirt!
It seems the government and our Congressional leaders should have more dangerous criminals to track down and go after.
I fear this all started because a few Congressional leaders wanted some headlines and signed baseballs from the superstars.  I’m sure some serious steroid use was going on, and we know it is unhealthy for the players and should not be an example for the young kids, but surely we can let baseball police their own sport.
To me it was all a big waste of money and probably ruined many lives.

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Artur Davis Cleans Up

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

I appreciate that Roger Clemens is no sympathetic character. Even before his brain and emotions might have been addled by steroids, he could be graceless to an extreme: the few black fans left in baseball winced after he stupidly said he wished he could crack Hank Aaron’s head open when Aaron had the temerity to suggest a pitcher shouldn’t win a season MVP award. It was a dumb, brutal joke that echoed the savage letters Aaron received in the throes of his home run record chase. There was also no grace in the Roger Clemens who could erupt at umpires or batters, and who tended to do it most when his skills weren’t working. There are a host of fans who see nothing but a perennial evader of responsibility in Clemens, and I sympathize.

But the Hall of Fame is a baseball venue and the only relevance of his misdeeds is whether they influenced the stats that make the player’s candidacy (I would say the same for Pete Rose, whose tawdriness never included betting to influence his own games).

Accepting the standard that it’s best to freeze Clemens’ candidacy as of 1998–pre Brian McNamee–I lean toward admission for Roger Clemens, but don’t see the baseball case as nearly as one-sided as some comments on the thread suggest. Clemens’ Red Sox career approximated 16 wins a years for twelve years–exceptional and consistent, but there were outlier years like the masterpiece in 86 balanced against a run of seasons in the early nineties when Clemens seemed past his prime, and an undeniable pattern of erosion. Then there is the mediocrity of his post-season work for the Red Sox, when the rap was that Clemens seemed to fatigue by October (a precursor of why he might have turned to enhancers). The two Toronto Cy Young years (and 41 additional wins) are clouded, perhaps unfairly, by the proximity to his alleged introduction to steroids, and the murkiness around when the cheating might have started.

Read the rest of…
The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Artur Davis Cleans Up

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Greg Harris Bats Third

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

I do not think ball players should be banned from the Hall of Fame for moral reasons not having to do with performance.  

As a Reds fan, which everyone knows is the greatest sports franchise on the history of the planet, it bother me that “hit king” Pete Rose is still barred from the Hall for activities having nothing to do with his performance on the field as a player.  (Ok, not totally relevant to this debate, but I just had to say that.)

As for players who took performance enhancing drugs, they should not be given a place in the Hall.  
Their stats were jacked because they were juiced.  But Clemens was found innocent, and it’s not for the Hall to try and convict him.  So let him in.

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: The RP in the Second Hole

[Click here for a link to the entire RP Debate on Roger Clemens]

Should Roger Clemens be admitted to the Hall of Fame?

That’s a clown question, bro.

Clemens was one of the 5 best pitchers of all time, AND he’s been vindicated through an extensive and painful court process.  Whether or not the sportswriters agree with the jury’s verdict last week, that’s how our democracy works.

The tougher call– moral and practical — concerns whether others who have admitted, or have been suspected of, steroid use should be prohibited from entering the Hall of Fame.

I don’t believe that steroid use — and obviously then, suspicion thereof — PRIOR TO Major League Baseball’s crackdown on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) should be a barrier to entry. This is a critical distinction.  Players such as Manny Ramirez are an easy case — he continued to use PEDs long after Baseball announced stiffer penalties — despite his contribution to the Red Sox resurrection in 2004, he’s done.  (Ryan Braun is a much tougher call, and not just because he’s my favorite Jewish player.  I agreed with the decision to reverse his suspension based on technicality — again, that is how our system of due process works — but I’m hopeful that in the years to come, the issue will be clairified.)

Read the rest of…
The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: The RP in the Second Hole

The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Steve Schulman Leads Off

As an irregular feature, Mondays at The Recovering Politician are sometimes reserved for great debates among the contributing RPs and Friends of RP.  Click here for a link to the prior debates.
Today, the following question is posed:  Should superstar pitcher Roger Clemens, recently acquitted of lying about using performance enhancing steroids, be admitted to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame?
Steven Schulman, this site’s resident baseball expert — and the second best owner in his fantasy baseball league — leads off:
First, a few disclaimers:  Roger Clemens was for many years my favorite baseball player.  Until he signed with the Yankees.  Then he was dead to me.
Ok, that’s behind us.  The question is whether the acquittal of Clemens on the charges of lying to Congress and obstruction of justice make him more or less likely to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and, in any case, whether he should be elected notwithstanding the charges (both legal and moral) against him.
The realist point of view is that the writers who are empowered to elect players to the Hall of Fame are highly unlikely to be persuaded by the verdict in a criminal proceeding.  The prosecution’s burden in a criminal court is to prove the facts “beyond a reasonable doubt.”   For Hall of Fame voters, the burden appears to be “well, I personally think so, for whatever reason.” For their own reasons – either moral objections or simple embarrassment that they themselves failed to uncover (or to reveal their own knowledge of) steroid use – writers are objecting to anyone from the 1990s into this century who even has a hint of steroid use.
Jeff Bagwell – who ranks among the best first basement ever (in the major leagues, not just my Rotisserie baseball team) – has failed in two tries to be elected to the Hall of Fame, simply because his body type and the era in which he played raise suspicions of steroid use.  Accordingly, Clemens’s acquittal will hardly move the needle for the knights of the keyboard who guard the gates to Cooperstown. 

Read the rest of…
The RPs Debate Roger Clemens: Steve Schulman Leads Off

Kenyan Schoolkids Reenact 1986 World Series

This is awesome.

For those of us Boston Red Sox fans who will never forget the Sox collapse in Game Six of the 1986 World Series — most infamously remembered for first baseman Bill Buckner allowing a ground ball pass through his legs — you will appreciate thie video reeenactment.  New York Mets fans will find anotgher reason to celebrate:

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