I hate to break up Will’s two-week run of dominance on Unfiltered, but I’m watching Game Four of the Dominican League finals, and so Miguel Tejada is on my mind. You’d be hard-pressed to find a baseball player who’s had a stranger month than Tejada. On Tuesday, the same day that Congress asked the Justice Department to start an investigation of him for perjury, his brother passed away in a motorcycle crash.
This, in turn, followed a dramatic comeback by the defending Dominican Winter League champion Cibao Eagles, who entered the new year with a 3-5 record in the round-robin tournament that decides who participates in the finals. The Aguilas–under a ton of pressure because their home city, Santiago, is hosting the Caribbean Series–finished 7-2 in their last nine games to make the finals, and a guaranteed Caribbean Series berth. (For those of you wondering, the eighteenth match of the round robin wasn’t played because the slots in the finals had already been clinched.) After missing the first game of the finals, Tejada’s been sterling at DH while his team has creamolished their hated rivals, the Licey Tigers, in the first three games of the best-of-nine finals, by a total score of 37-10. So there’s a chance that by next Tuesday, Tejada will be the first player to gain a Dominican League championship and an FBI file in the same week.
After my suggestion in Tuesday’s column that Tejada might be persona non grata in the United States should the perjury investigation against him be productive, a number of readers had the same idea:
I have a question regarding the legality of Tejada’s situation. You had mentioned that if he is found guilty of perjury, he would be at risk of losing the right to continue playing in th U.S. due to his immigration status. How would this affect his right to play in Canada? Would he be permitted to play in Toronto, and if so, would it be worth a roster spot to have a player of his caliber available only for home games? — C.W.
‘After all, you can’t play shortstop for the Astros if you can’t set foot on American soil.’ Hmm…Headline of the future?: ‘Tejada traded to Blue Jays for near nothing’ — E.M.
Before we start playing Oh, Canada! for Tejada, there are a few caveats. A conviction could involve a jail term, and would likely be followed by a substantial suspension from the Commissioner’s office. So Tejada would probably miss significant playing time before you consider the effect his immigration status would have on his availability to play. Once you get past that, you have to figure out how Canadian immigration would treat a person who has a U.S. perjury conviction on their record. If we have any Canadian attorneys in the crowd, I’d love to hear from you on this, and a couple of other issues.
As to whether it would make sense for the Blue Jays to pick up a player who could only play at home…why not? Tejada would probably be a free agent pickup at that point, since a conviction would probably result in his contract getting voided. It would take a lot of creativity on the Blue Jays’ part, since the team would frequently be playing a man short on the road, but that’s not a huge impediment in the DH league. We’ve seen, consistently, that major league teams will overlook a plethora of sins in return for a player who can get it done on the field. So long as Tejada can hack it with the bat and the glove, it’s likely that someone will give him a home.
I’m not done with the Stupid Lawyer Tricks series, yet–at the very least, it’ll be back in mid-February for the Clemens/Pettitte/McNamee Congressional hearing, and we’ll likely see another mailbag between now and then–but I’m looking forward to getting back to actually writing about baseball. Prospectus Toolbox should be making its return this coming week, and, as you’ve probably guessed from the beginning of the post, I’m gearing up for BP’s coverage of the Caribbean Series, which I’ll be doing live from the Dominican Republic at the beginning of next month.
In the time it took me to write this, Dan Fox played Nick O’Hern to Will’s Tiger Woods, which really takes some of the pressure off this post.
The game’s been exciting, with a bench-clearing incident resulting from the Licey starter, Spike Lundberg, spiking Luis Polonia in the backside with a pitch. Both players were ejected, since Polonia threw the ball back toward the mound after he was hit. In the sixth, Licey’s guarding a 3-0 lead in hopes of lifting the Aguilas’ foot off of their necks in the series. Tejada’s 0 for 3, getting robbed on an amazing play by outfielder Emilio Bonifacio in the gap.
Despite my hypothetical discussion of his legal status, which is predicated on a finding of guilt (not a foregone conclusion, at all), I want to make it clear that my condolences go out to Tejada on the death of his brother–a horrible moment in anyone’s life, doubtless made worse by all the publicity he’s laboring under this week.