Surprising no one, Roger Clemens once again gets killed in court

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Roger Clemens’ record as a litigant continues to be just as bad as his record as a pitcher was good:

A federal judge in Texas reaffirmed his original dismissal of most
of the claims in Roger Clemens’ defamation suit against former trainer
Brian McNamee, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

The decision clears the way for McNamee to pursue his own defamation suit against the former seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

In his opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison wrote that
“if (Clemens) believes that the federal investigators or the Mitchell
Commission overstepped the bounds of the law, he is free to bring suit
against those enemies, subject to possible immunity.”

That last bit refers to the main thrust of McNamee’s defense, which was
that he can’t possibly be sued for defamation because his statements
were made while being questioned by law enforcement. The judge agreed
with that. Which is fine in my mind insofar as it relates to stuff he
said to actual federal agents. I’m not so fine that things he said to
George Mitchell should be privileged on those grounds, though, because
last I checked, Mitchell was acting as an apparatchik for Major League
Baseball’s giant P.R. exercise that was the Mitchell Report, not any
legitimate law enforcement function.

But that’s boring legal stuff. The less-boring implication of all of this is that Clemens’ use of the legal system to serve his own P.R. purposes has now imploded in spectacular fashion. Which I and every lawyer with half a brain said it would way back in January 2008. Let’s review the reasons why we thought this:

Reason #1: Defamation cases are hard to win, especially for celebrities, and even when you do win, the damages are small;

Reason # 2: Defamation lawsuits often create bigger audiences
for the false statements than the false statements enjoyed in the first
place, and have the added negative effect of opening up one’s life and
reputation to scrutiny;

Reason # 3: Even if the statements made by the defamer really
are false, the plaintiff — Clemens in this case — stands a good
chance of whiffing on one of the other essential elements of the suit
or some other technicality. When that happens the public only hears
about the loss, and concludes that the defendant was telling the truth
even if he wasn’t.

To review the bidding: Clemens has lost the suit; Clemens’
embarrassing and often shameful personal life came to light as a result
of the suit; and even though Clemens’ loss is on technical grounds as
opposed to some judgment that he was actually lying, from now until the
end of history, people will reasonably assume that he was, in fact, the
liar (not that they didn’t assume that anyway).

So once again, allow me to congratulate Roger Clemens — and his colossally-awful lawyer, Rusty Hardin — for their spectacular work. Well done, gentlemen, well done indeed!

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.

Report: White Sox, Nationals making “strong progress” on a Chris Sale deal

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox deliivers the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.

Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.