Sosa likely to skate on any perjury charge

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Congress is going to investigate Sammy Sosa for perjury:

A congressional committee will look into former baseball slugger
Sammy Sosa’s denial that he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs in
light of a report that he tested positive for a performance-enhancing
drug in 2003. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee, Democratic Rep. Edolphus Towns of New York, says that the
committee takes seriously suggestions that a witness had been

Towns said in a statement Wednesday that he will determine the appropriate steps following a review of the matter.

Given Tuesday’s news, there is no question that Sammy was, at the
very least, being cute with Congress during his 2005 testimony. That
said, I don’t think anything will come of this and don’t expect that
Sosa will ultimately be charged.

Why? Because Sammy never appeared to have actually said that he didn’t do steroids. He said “To be clear, I have never taken illegal
performance-enhancing drugs.” He said “I have not broken the laws of
the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been
tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean.” Those statements — and
many others he made during his testimony — allow for the possibility
that he used substances that were legal in the Dominican Republic that
would have been illegal to use in the United States.

I know that such a distinction is going to make a lot of you mad, but
federal perjury law is really, really, clear in holding that responses
to questions made under oath that relay truthful information in and of
themselves, but that are intended to mislead or evade the examiner
cannot be prosecuted. Instead, the criminal-justice system requires
that the questioner — in this case Congress — diligently followup on
such answers and suss out the misleading nature of the response
themselves. A relatively non-technical summary of that law can be found here. And yes, it’s an unpopular law in some circles, but it is the law, and there are several good reasons for it being as it is.

I don’t know what Sammy Sosa took, when, and where. But neither does
Congress, and they didn’t try to obtain that information in 2005 even
though they were presented with an opportunity to do so. And believe
me, there were lawyers all over that hearing room, and you can bet that
many of them were aware of the implications of Sosa’s carefully-phrased
statements that day. If they wanted to nail him for perjury, they
should have nailed him down then.

But they didn’t, and because of that, I think he skates.

Video: Javier Baez hits go-ahead three-run bomb in NLDS Game 4

Javier Baez
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Cardinals starter John Lackey had a clean first inning in Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but Anthony Rizzo opened the bottom of the second a shift-beating single to the left side of the infield and then Starlin Castro reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to short. Kyle Schwarber came through with a single and Jason Hammel followed a Miguel Montero strikeout with a two-out, run-scoring liner up the middle.

Enter young shortstop prospect Javier Baez, who’s filling in for the injured Addison Russell in Game 4 as the Cubs try to advance to the NLCS …

Opposite field. Wind-aided, sure, but it probably didn’t need the wind anyway. What a shot.

Chicago leads the visiting Cardinals 4-2 as the sixth inning gets underway at Wrigley.

Juan Uribe not close to being available for the Mets

Juan Uribe
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Mets infielder Juan Uribe has been sidelined since late September with a chest injury and it sounds like he won’t be available for the NLCS if New York advances.

Mets manager Terry Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that Uribe has yet to resume baseball activities and continues to experience discomfort.

Uribe was a useful late-July pickup for the Mets and hit .253 with 14 homers and a .737 OPS in 119 total games for three different teams this season, but his postseason role would be pretty limited even if he were healthy.

Rob Manfred wants a new, unnecessary rule to protect middle infielders


Commissioner Rob Manfred is at the Cards-Cubs game this afternoon and the sporting press just spoke with him about the fallout from the Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada play from the other night. Not surprising.

Also not surprising? Manfred’s desire to implement a new rule in an effort to prevent such a play from happening again. Or, at the very least, to allow for clear-cut punishment for someone who breaks it:

Which is ridiculous, as we already have Rule 6.05(m) on the books. That rule — which is as clear as Crystal Pepsi — says a baserunner is out when . . .

(m)A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:

Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

That rule totally and completely covers the Utley-Tejada situation. The umpires were wrong for not enforcing it both then and in the past, but that’s the rule, just as good as any other rule in that book and in no way in need of replacement.

Why not just enforce that rule? What rule would “better protect” infielders than that one? What would do so in a more straightforward a manner? What could baseball possibly add to it which would make plays at second base less confusing rather than more so?

I suspect what Manfred is interested in here is some means to change this from a judgment call to a clear-cut rule. It was that impulse that led to the implementation of clocks for pitchers and batters and innings breaks rather than giving umpires the discretion to enforce existing pace-of-play rules. It was that impulse which led to a tripartite (or is it quadpartite?) means of determining whether a catcher impermissibly blocks the plate or a runner barrels him over rather than simply enforce existing base-blocking rules.

But taking rules out of the subjective realm and into the objective is difficult or downright impossible in many cases, both in law and in baseball. It’s almost totally impossible when intent is an element of the thing, as it is here. It’s likewise the case that, were there a clear and easy bright line to be established in service of a judgment-free rule on this matter, someone may have stumbled upon it once in the past, oh, 150 years. And maybe even tried to implement it. They haven’t, of course. Probably because there was no need, what with Rule 6.05(m) sitting up there all nice and tidy and an army of judgment-armed umpires standing ready to enforce it should they be asked to.

Unfortunately, Major League Baseball has decided that eschewing set rules in favor of new ones is better. Rules about the time batters and pitchers should take. Rules about blocking bases. Rules about how long someone should be suspended for a first time drug offense. Late Selig and Manfred-era Major League Baseball has decided, it seems, that anything 150 years of baseball can do, it can do better. Or at least newer and without the input of people in the judgment-passing business like umpires and arbitrators and the like.

Why can’t baseball send a memo to the umpires and the players over the winter saying the following:

Listen up:

That rule about running into fielders that you all have already agreed to abide by in your respective Collective Bargaining Agreements? We’re serious about it now and WILL be enforcing it. If you break it, players, you’re going to be in trouble. If you refuse to enforce it, umpires, you’re going to be in trouble. Understood? Good.


Bobby M.

If players complain, they complain. They don’t have a say about established rules. If, on the other hand, your process of making new rules is easier than your process of simply enforcing rules you already have, your system is messed up and we should be having a whole other conversation.