Due process is a wonderful thing, even if the outcomes are sometimes a little hard to figure. Just ask Joe Jackson.
We have yet to hear much more about the rationale behind the Ryan Braun decision except rumors about irregularities in the handling of his urine sample, but if it is indeed the case that he was let off the hook because the chain of evidence was broken, his acquittal is a triumph for due process. Sorry, Baseball, but your minions screwed up, and therefore you did as well.
Our Constitution is an amazing living document that stretches and evolves with the times, surviving generations of politicians and Supreme Court justices who life to play taffy pull with its brittle old pages. As a result, sometimes we get a Constitution that’s very expansive in its grant of rights and at other times it’s a bit stingy. For a long time, due process was more about corporations than individuals—the Supreme Court spent decades saying you couldn’t have labor laws because they inhibited the free market, and any law that does that is messing with the right of due process.
The 1919 Black Sox had their case fall squarely during the period of time when due process was more concerned with protecting employers from labor than vice-versa. Had the case happened roughly 20 years later, Joe Jackson and friends might have kept on playing. In some cases (Jackson, Buck Weaver) that might have been a better outcome than what actually happened, whereas in others (Chick Gandil), the result would have been the continuance on the field of some players who were clearly guilty. Still, to the extent that “the verdict of juries,” as Commissioner Landis put it, is one of the keystone of our rights, the Sox clearly got a raw deal.
A look at some of the most underrated baseball films in cinematic history.
1) Bad Lieutenant Bad Lieutenant is Harvey Keitel at his most intense. He's a drunk, a drug addict, a degenerate gambler, an unfaithful man, a sadist, and in every way among the worst human beings ever portrayed on film. He has countless enemies, from drug dealers to rapists to bookies he owes money to, but there is one that bothers him most of all. That person is Daryl Strawberry. Among the biggest of many weights dragging down on Keitel is his gambling debt, which he tries to eliminate by constantly going double-or-nothing on a fictional playoff series between the Mets and the Dodgers. After the Dodgers win the first three games of the series, Keitel continuously bets on the Dodgers to put the series away, and time and time again it's Strawberry, who in real life joined the Dodgers in 1991, who ruins his game and ultimately his bet. I've always wondered if Strawberry has seen the movie, as Keitel (his character's name is never revealed) rampages against him in ways that seem far more personal than any crowd simply chanting DAAAAA-RYL. It would disturb me. Hell, it would disturb anyone. —Kevin Goldstein
2) The Fan The Fan is a delightfully creepy movie which features Wesley Snipes as a baseball player (how original!) and Robert DeNiro as a really angry, creepy guy (also very original!) named Gil. Snipes plays an outfielder named Bobby Rayburn who signs a big contract to join the San Francisco Giants and soon becomes DeNiro’s obsession. DeNiro quickly becomes the Pedro Gomez to Snipes’s Barry Bonds in San Francisco, tracking his every move on and off the field from a distance. I’m somewhat surprised that this movie isn’t listed among the pantheon of baseball cinematic classics, considering it has some of the best scenes in cinematic history. These include, but are not limited to: Gil killing another player on the Giants because he wouldn’t give Rayburn his lucky number, Gil kidnapping Rayburn’s son and then killing a man with an aluminum bat for helping the child escape, and at one point someone yells “HE’S CALLING FROM INSIDE THE STADIUM!” which is just wonderful.
San Diego has used season-long momentum to lead the NL West along with other notes from around the major leagues.
Bud Black is a very astute baseball man. He was a deep thinker as a major-league pitcher then made his mark following his playing career working in the Indians' front office and as the Angels' pitching coach before being hired as the Padres' manager prior to the 2007 season.
A historian looks at Willard Brown, the first African-American to play in a big-league game at Fenway Park.
Chris Wertz is a freelance baseball writer and historian living in New York City. He is a contributing author to the recently-released Pumpsie & Progress: The Red Sox, Race, and Redemption, by Bill Nowlin, which was published by Rounder Books.
Terry Francona believes in his new-look club, the Blue Jays move on without Doc, plus other MLB notes.
FORT MYERS, Fla.—The buzz phrase in Boston in the days following the Red Sox' quick elimination from the postseason last October was "bridge season." That is what Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said 2010 was going to be, because many of the organization's top prospects were not going to be ready to help at the major-league level until 2011.
AL players to watch in spring training, Bud Black and Jed Hoyer talk about their fledgling relationship in San Diego, and other news from around the majors.
In every spring training camp, whether the team is coming off winning the World Series or losing 100 games, there is at least one interesting player to follow. He may be a highly regarded prospect only in camp to show the major-league staff what he can do before being reassigned to minor-league camp or a veteran non-roster invitee trying to squeeze one more season out of his career. He may be a player competing for a spot in the starting lineup or someone coming back from a serious injury. Regardless of the circumstance, every club has one. So with the start of spring training just days away, let's take a look at one player from each American League club who is worth keeping tabs between now and opening day (an event that is special but does deserve capitalization):
The Padres make a run, the Astros name a scapegoat, will Tony La Russa become a free agent, plus news and views from around the game.
Sometimes it is easy to forget the Padres exist. They basically wrote off this season before it started as former owner John Moores, in the midst of selling the team to Jeff Moorad and going through an expensive divorce, lopped $30 million off of last year' s payroll and gave Kevin Towers, the longest-tenured general manager in the major leagues, just $43mllion to build a roster with.
Forgive me a second, as I doff the analyst's cap. As is, I lack the gifts of a Silver or a Sheehan, or a Davenport, Fox, or Woolner. Instead, bear with me as I simply go over a trip to the ballpark yesterday. One that just happened to be in an October, and one that just happened to be in my favorite place, Chicago.
In a long life as a fan and a somewhat shorter career as a writer, there are many things I've done, but many things I still had yet to do. While I have caught a foul ball (promptly handed off to the nearest kiddo), and made the trek to the Cactus League a couple of times for spring training, I haven't seen a no-hitter in the flesh, for example. Obviously, some things are not like others—random luck can put you in the right seat and/or at the right ballgame, while time and/or money can put you in Phoenix in February or March, or at a playoff game in October. Even so, I had yet to experience a post-season ballgame in the flesh. That changed yesterday, courtesy of the White Sox, as the always-crisp crew of Scott Reifert in Communications and Media Relations played host to the Fourth Estate for Game Three of their ALDS, and generously made space for Nate Silver, Kevin Goldstein, and myself among the ranks of the chattering classes.
Looming conflict between two tribes dug in on opposite sides of the same wall.
Not long ago, you could find civic ads inside many of Chicago's El trains, humorously touting the charms of the South Side in the form of a mock FAQ. In one of them, a mythical and provincially snobby North-Sider asked, "Will my cell phone work on the South Side?"
C.C. Sabathia and the offense are both struggling, but it's the trickle-down effect of closer Joe Borowski's shelving that has manager Eric Wedge concerned.
The Cleveland Indians came within one game of getting to the World Series last season. With the way the Indians have played during the first three weeks of this season, however, it seems hard to believe they were that close to a Fall Classic berth just six months ago.