The legal battle over the 2003 steroids list continues to drag on

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The fellow to the right is Jeff Novitzky, the controversial federal agent who in 2004 led the raid on a drug lab that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled violated the constitutional rights of the baseball players who took drug tests during the 2003 steroid survey. That ruling came after a previous, smaller panel of the same court weighed in. Which itself came a couple of years after the trial court weighed in.  In other words, this thing has been dragging on forever.

Forever is about to get longer, though, because now the court is asking Players Association and the government whether an even larger, damn nigh unprecedented panel of appeals court judges should weigh in on the issue. The the court things that all 27 — yes, 27 — judges should hear the case, the thing could drag on for another two years. And that’s before the U.S. Supreme Court gets a chance to weigh in.

From a legal perspective it blows my mind that the court is so uncomfortable with its ruling — a ruling that says that the government can’t waltz into your doctor’s office with a search warrant for a specific patient’s records and walk out with the medical records of you and and your kids and your aunt Tilly and everyone.  This seems pretty basic to me, but to the extent I’m wrong and it’s not basic, it’s something that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to have to rule on anyway, so why not get it to them sooner rather than later?

From a steroids-in-baseball perspective we stand in the same place we have stood for many years now: the court order sealing those test results remains in place, Mr. Novitzky’s seizure of the 2003 testing records currently stands as a violation the constitutional rights of players who took those drug tests, and anyone who leaks information relating to those 2003 test results is in criminal contempt of a federal court order.

But don’t let that stop Mr. Novitzky from continuing to be promoted rather than disciplined and the ignorant from demanding that the names from the famous list Novtizky created be released all the same.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begin the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp now have a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they’ve only played five innings of baseball.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?