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Friday, December 21, 2012

Michael Attanasio: A No Vote For Roger Clemens And The Hall Of Fame Insults Our Constitution

The other Great Successor speaks!

Yet over the past few weeks I’ve been saddened, and amazed, to see some baseball writers dismiss Roger’s trial vindication and insist he does not belong in the Hall of Fame. Apparently the constitutional presumption of innocence applies to everybody but Roger, even after he proved his innocence in a court of law, the one place where there are rules against unfounded speculation and guilt by association. The same place where the accuser has to come up with actual evidence. Yet how can we celebrate the best legal system in the world when a small group of sportswriters, self-proclaimed guardians of America’s pastime, ignores the evidence and dictates the outcome no matter the facts? Why not just turn the Hall of Fame vote over to North Korea and be done with it?

...No need to mince words – Roger should never have been on trial in the first place. He never wagged his finger at Congress and then tested positive. He never pretended not to speak English. He never admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs but claimed he didn’t know it at the time. He never said he “wasn’t here to talk about the past.” He never shattered records considered unbreakable until the steroid era. His body size never changed and he did not become a player he had never been before. Like Nolan Ryan and a select few before him, Roger was unique, that special talent who did things you’ve never seen before and may never see again. During the trial we presented witness after witness who explained why Roger was so dominant for so long: God-given talent, extraordinary work ethic, impeccable mechanics, and, later in his career, a devastating split-finger fastball as his velocity decreased. Drugs? Not according to these baseball men. Never.

There’s really no debate about the baseball facts, as even the prosecutors conceded during trial when they admitted this wasn’t a case about actual performance enhancement. The more important issue today is that a no vote on Roger Clemens is really an insult to our Constitution.

A man is accused of something he says he did not do. He trusts in the First Amendment and proclaims his innocence through the media. He trusts in our democracy and proclaims his innocence to our elected representatives in Congress. He trusts in our judicial system and proclaims his innocence to a diverse, highly educated jury of his fellow citizens. He is quickly and resoundingly acquitted of all charges. What more could Roger have done? He belongs in the Hall of Fame precisely because he honored our Constitution by fighting for his innocence – and winning.

Repoz Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:57 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4330397)
A No vote for Alan Trammell means you want to kill puppies.
   2. Dale Sams Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4330403)
I’m also fortunate to be a lawyer, a believer in the American legal system that is supposed to protect each of us from unfounded accusations


Stretching a little to call 'presumption of innocence a constitutional right'. Yes, it's 'due process', but...

Yet how can we celebrate the best legal system in the world


The one where the guy in charge isn't held to it.

Why not just turn the Hall of Fame vote over to North Korea and be done with it?


Yup. He's a lawyer.

His body size never changed


YUP. He's a lawyer.

   3. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4330404)
Isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!
   4. AROM Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4330408)
He never pretended not to speak English.


Get over this. Sosa can speak English, yes. Much better than I can speak Spanish. But put him in a room with a bunch of jackals just waiting for him to slip up once so they can put him on trial for something, Sammy was 100% correct in not handicapping himself by speaking his second language.
   5. Dale Sams Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4330418)
Nice #3.
   6. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4330423)
Roger, even after he proved his innocence in a court of law

He did not prove his innocence. The prosecution failed to prove his guilt. Those are not the same things.
   7. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4330432)
This is extraordinarily ridiculous, even by the high standards of the ridiculousness we often see around here. I mean, I'd vote for Clemens, but this is still the most insultingly stupid thing I've read in a long time. It pretends to be smart, which just makes it stupider.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4330433)
So is Michael Attanasio a pen-name for Keith Olbermann? Because this has Olbermann written all over it.
   9. Suff Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4330444)
He never wagged his finger at Congress and then tested positive.


This is the thing: If Bonds and Clemens get off on the basis of the legal system, how about Palmeiro? Congress tried to go after him for lying to Congress (same as Clemens) and they didn't even get enough evidence to indict him.
   10. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4330453)
This is extraordinarily ridiculous, even by the high standards of the ridiculousness we often see around here. I mean, I'd vote for Clemens, but this is still the most insultingly stupid thing I've read in a long time. It pretends to be smart, which just makes it stupider.


Totally correct. The smarter he tries to sound, the dumber it comes off. That's an impressive compositional feat, actually.

   11. AROM Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4330472)
This is the thing: If Bonds and Clemens get off on the basis of the legal system, how about Palmeiro? Congress tried to go after him for lying to Congress (same as Clemens) and they didn't even get enough evidence to indict him.


Unlike Bonds and Clemens, Palmeiro failed a drug test and served his suspension.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4330543)
This would be enough to convince me to not vote for Clemens.

that special talent who did things you’ve never seen before and may never see again.

Meh, not really. I think I consider Clemens the least interesting of the great pitchers. Of all the great pitchers, he's the one I most consider a "thrower not a pitcher." (OK, maybe Johnson) He threw really hard, including that devastating split finger. He had outstanding control -- but in part because he threw that hard split finger that people swung at as it dipped out of the zone.

I mean Ryan did crazy #### and had an awesome curve to go with his amazing fastball and he'd walk 1/3 of the ballpark while he was K'ing the other half (I'm on a roll!). Maddux was a surgeon who out-thought the hitter and seemed to never miss a spot (that's a pitcher not a thrower). Pedro was simply amazing at everything and was there anything more fun than the tired Pedro trotting out in the 4th inning of game 5 and shutting down the Indians for 6 innings. Tom Seaver was poetry in motion, Fergie Jenkins would rather give up a HR than walk you, Bob Gibson would rather hit you than give up a hit and Steve Carlton somehow managed to win 27 games on a team that only won 15. Gaylord Perry was a ton of fun, Niekro was baffling and Babe Ruth himself couldn't have laid a finger on Kerry Wood that day.

Clemens? Threw a piece of bat at Piazza -- who cares? Boring and unmemorable. Pretty good ballplayer though. :-)
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:55 PM (#4330555)
Attanasio makes a totally gratuitous comment about Sosa, and his rhetoric is overly dramatic about the affront to our Constitution, but on the substance he's absolutely right. The case against Clemens was and is shaky to the extreme, and it's as if the trial might as well have been taking place on another planet, for all the attention many people seem to be paying to the outcome.
   14. Suff Posted: December 21, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4330569)
Unlike Bonds and Clemens, Palmeiro failed a drug test and served his suspension.


He failed in his MLB appeal (athletes are responsible for what is in their bodies, knowingly or not), but he maintained it was an accident. His story was plausible, since the Mitchell Report said Tejada was doing the very thing Palmeiro said he did.

I'm not saying I personally believe Palmeiro, but his innocence is in the same ballpark as Bonds and Clemens. And they at least had enough evidence against them for indictment.

In any case, it is unjust that Palmeiro is always said to have lied to Congress, when he was cleared of doing so by due process.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4330582)
And on Sosa ...

HIS TESTIMONY WAS IN ENGLISH. HIS ENTIRE TESTIMONY WAS IN ENGLISH. THAT HE TESTIFIED IN SPANISH IS A COMPLETE MYTH.

Oh, I take that back. The transcripts show him saying "si" once.

His lawyer read the opening statement.

CNN transcript

JIM SHARP: Congressman Waxman and members of the committee, my name is Jim Sharp, and I represent Mr. Sosa. And I appreciate the departure from the norm permitting me to read his statement.

Immediately following the opening statement:

SHARP: If you'll indulge me at this point, he would just like to say a few words.

DAVIS: That would be fine. Just make sure the microphone's in front of him. Thank you, Mr. Sosa.

SAMMY SOSA, BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was back then in the room and I was watching the TV, the two families that lost the two kids. And it really shocked me. It break my heart. I want to send sympathy to those families that got to go through that situation. And, you know, the quicker we can resolve this problem in steroid, which is bad for kids, you know, I'm willing to work with you guys and do the best that I can to stop that. I just want to say that. Thank you very much.

(In reference to earlier testimony from the couple who claim their son committed suicide because of steroids)

I've never found a complete transcript. That earlier link starts at 2:22 and has the opening stuff, this link starts at 5:00, there's presumably some stuff in-between.

Note, most questions were asked of everybody, most were phrased to elicit a short yes/no answer ... and the rest were basically incomprehensible by any English speaker. :-) Most just went down the line and Sosa was 4th in line so while he doesn't say much in response, anything he might have said would have been said already. I'm not sure he was ever asked a question for just himself.

CNN transcript

[on other players using]: To my knowledge, I don't know

[should MLB adopt Olympic policy]: I can tell you Mr. Chairman I don't have too much to tell you. (C'mon, that's brilliant!)

[I've got to quote the question on this one because even I'm not sure what it's about ... Very briefly because the time is short, I'd like to hear from each of you what you think the danger is, what's your perception of what happened out there in the world because of the allegations of steroid use. And secondly, what can Major League Baseball and the Players' Association do tangibly, if you have ideas. ]: I agree with Mr. McGwire. You know, one reason why we're here is to stop that. And you know, I think that we can do some more tests and one way or another we're here to help.

["favor" Olympic style testing]: Yes I am favor to the ... (crosstalk)

[favor independent testing?]: Yes, sir.

[favor federal legislation if necessary?]: Pretty much, yes.

[is self-regulation possible?]: Yes, I think it's possible, too. If we work together, yes.

[is it cheating?]: I think so.

[should records stand?]: It's not up to me.

[Did you support the old policy, the old policy on steroids? Did you empower your union representative? What was your stance on the issue of steroids within your union votes as members of the union? Did you support a more stringent policy or did you ask your union representative to limit the policy when it comes to steroids?]: [after other answers and some exchanges ... I think Sammy just lost the three questions]: I really -- I don't have the specific question to explain it to you.

[signs in locker rooms as a deterrent]: I don't think so. I'm not sure.

[punishment of trainers who don't report usage]: I agree. I agree with Raffy. I think it is probably the trainer also on people [garbled]

[why has it take so long to act?]: I don't really know. I'm not sure.

[1%, 5%, 10%, what's your guess ... no I'm not joking, that was Bernie Sanders]: I wouldn't know. I really ... [Schilling's "guess" was that he'd heard about maybe 5 to 10 players over 15 years.]

[if MLB doesn't do anything, would you come back here in a year asking for federal legislation]: Yes, I believe that, you know, Major League Baseball is going to do something, no question. If you have to come back here, I'm happy to do it.

[What about the kids? Kucinich apparently addresing Sammy as Senor Sosa]: Yes, sir, si. I would say pretty much hard work, believe in yourself, you know, grow up good and work hard, you know. Myself is an example, coming from the island, work hard, and make it to the majors. So that's the only thing that I can say to everybody up there. You know, believe in yourself.

[steroids as serious as gambling?]: I would say the same thing [as McGwire which was "I don't know, if it's a positive move ...")

[why was baseball so aggressive on Rose and not steroids? Was it the money?]: I have no idea. I can't answer that. (This would seem to mark Sosa as the most sensible person in the room.)

[do you think Congress is overstepping its bounds]: (previous answers, cross-talk, jokes, Sammy seems lost here): Yes, I believe they take it seriously, yes.

[Florida congresswoman praising Palmeiro, Sosa and Canseco for their good work at one point starts speaking Spanish and an unidentified male says something back in Spanish ... not translated]

[did you know that you also could get fined as well as suspended ... under the new policy]: No.

[what is your obligation if you know a teammate is using?]: I'm a private person. I don't really go, you know, ask people whatever it is. {Shays then tells everybody what Sammy really meant which is that of course it's your obligation to rat out your teammates for their own good.)

   16. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4330589)
In any case, it is unjust that Palmeiro is always said to have lied to Congress, when he was cleared of doing so by due process.

Note also that Sosa clearly denied using steroids in front of Congress in 2005. The NYT report came out claiming "sources who have seen the list" (or whatever phrasing they used) put Sosa on the 2003 list. The committee briefly poked into it and decided not to ask the Justice Dept to look into it.

Of course that could also just be Congress acting sensibly (no, honest, sometimes miracles happen) and deciding the JD already had the big fish under the microscope, no need to go after the small fry.

But yes, in the end we have:

no reliable evidence that Clemens used (even if you want to trot out "preponderance")
no reliable evidence that Sosa used (even if you want to trot out "minimal")
no reliable evidence that Bonds knowingly used and no physical evidence that he used (but reliable "circumstancial" evidence)
no reliable evidence that Palmeiro knowingly used

and, as far as I know, no evidence whatsoever that Bonds and Clemens used prior to 2000 or so for those whose comfort is increased by the "they were HoFers before they used" argument.

EDIT: I should add that I realize that evidence of knowing use is very hard to come by. For example, as of this moment, we don't really have any evidence that Manny knowingly used. But we do know the Feds did their damnedest to proving knowing use on Bonds's part and came up short. Even the conviction they got was for felonious meandering not perjury.
   17. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:23 PM (#4330660)
that special talent who did things you’ve never seen before and may never see again.


A young Ryan Klesko attempting to make himself in a major league outfielder did all sorts of things I'd never seen before and hope to God to never see again. I don't see Klesko on any of these ballots.
   18. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:26 PM (#4330663)
I just want to say that I don't care a lot about this issue either way nearly as much as many people do, but for some reason I click on almost every steroid thread on this site and I usually end up wondering why. Walt Davis' comments in this thread, I now realize, are why. 'Felonious meandering' alone was worth the price of admission to the last several hundred threads.
   19. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 22, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4330734)
There is no credible evidence that OJ ever used PEDs.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 22, 2012 at 12:28 AM (#4330738)
He never wagged his finger at Congress and then tested positive.


I guess he's not planning to vote for Ollie North, either?
   21. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 22, 2012 at 12:34 AM (#4330743)
There is no credible evidence that OJ ever used PEDs.


OJ is innocent!

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