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
misleading.

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.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”