Heyman calls McGwire a coward for not risking prosecution

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McGwire oath.jpgI actually don’t have a huge problem with most of what Jon Heyman says about McGwire in his latest column. Sure, I think his tone is overly moralistic, and I continue to wonder why anyone cares what McGwire thinks steroids did or didn’t for him. But it’s not like he says anything a dozen other writers aren’t saying.

But I do take issue with one part of his analysis, and it’s the part in which Heyman talks about stuff he obviously doesn’t understand in the least: the legal stuff:

And by the way, his claim that he stonewalled Congress because he feared prosecution is fairly lame, as well . . . the reality is that McGwire would have been hailed as a hero had he
told the truth and if he had he pledged to help the steroid cause and
actually did help the cause . . .This isn’t his lawyers’ fault. It’s his fault. And of course, the
reality is that no one ever gets prosecuted for taking steroids. People
are prosecuted for distributing steroids, and they are prosecuted for
lying under oath.

We all know of hundreds of athletes who
took performance-enhancing drugs. And how many of them have been
pursued or prosecuted by the feds for that? Exactly zero. The
government doesn’t have the time or resources to go after the folks who
just use the performance-enhancing drugs. And they certainly wouldn’t
be hauling away in handcuffs an American hero, which is what McGwire
would have been had he cooperated rather than taking such a cowardly

It’s easy to be pretty cavalier about other people’s freedom, I guess, but one thing is certain here, and that’s that Heyman doesn’t have any experience being in the cross hairs of any sort of legal investigation. If a lawyer gave McGwire the kind of ignorant advice Heyman is spewing he’s be sued for malpractice.

I have said on a couple of occasions that it would have been a very good thing for McGwire to have been 100% frank at that Congressional hearing, and that by doing so he could have done no small amount of good with respect to the issue of PEDs in baseball.  But implicit in those comments was the idea that any such effort would necessarily have to come with some kind of immunity deal, because to do it he would have had to admit to committing crimes, even if they were minor ones.

And we learned something in McGwire’s confession the other day that we did not know before: he tried. His lawyers approached the committee’s lawyers and asked for immunity so he could talk.  And they said no. And it wasn’t just them: the Attorney General himself said no.

Now ask yourself: if you got a government subpoena and you knew that answering the questions they were going to ask you would require you to admit to committing a crime, and you asked them for immunity and they said sorry, no, would you feel all that comfortable that you wouldn’t be prosecuted for something? If, like Heyman, your answer is “yeah, sure,” you’re crazy.

Heyman says “the
government doesn’t have the time or resources to go after the folks who
just use the performance-enhancing drugs.” Such a comment show’s Heyman’s ignorance of the War on Drugs in general and the government’s interest in steroids in particular. They had agents literally sifting through athlete’s garbage prior to McGwire’s testimony. And while sure, the high-profile prosecutions of athletes like Barry Bonds and the investigation of Roger Clemens are premised on perjury, the government has a cute habit of setting perjury traps for people testifying about stuff that they might not prosecute in and of itself. And of course, thousands upon thousands of otherwise personal drug users have been charged as distributors based on possessing or using quantities of drugs that, while for personal use, are deemed enough to show an “intent to distribute.

Do they go after McGwire if he speaks frankly before Congress in 2005? I think the odds are less than 50%. But (a) they explicitly told his lawyers that they wouldn’t not go after him; and (b) even a 25% chance of becoming the poster boy of a federal steroids prosecution is a nightmarish prospect and enough to make any reasonable man balk at being so forthcoming about his illegal conduct.  I’ve represented high-profile criminal clients before, and I can tell you, a public investigation of even moderate length that does not result in an indictment can be an emotionally and financially-draining experience for all of those involved. Families can be destroyed. Fortunes lost. Friendships ended.

In other words, it is not something to be so blithely dismiss as Heyman does here.

Pirates expressing interest in Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has become the king of the reclamation project. And it sounds like he’s about to take on another big one …

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates have expressed interest in free agent Justin Masterson. The expectation is that it will be a one-year deal with the goal of rebuilding the right-hander’s value in an environment where many other struggling veteran pitchers have executed significant career turnarounds.

Masterson earned his first (and only) All-Star nod in 2013 when he registered a 3.45 ERA, 195 strikeouts, and three shutouts in 32 appearances with the Indians. But he had a 5.88 ERA in 128 2/3 innings between Cleveland and St. Louis in 2014 and he continued struggling to the tune of a 5.61 ERA with the Red Sox in 2015.

It’s not clear whether the Bucs would try him as a starter or reliever.

Zack Greinke deal “could come soon,” Dodgers and Giants lead the bidding

Zack Greinke
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers on Sunday for five years, $110 million. David Price signed with the Red Sox on Tuesday for seven years, $217 million.

Two big dominos have fallen in this loaded free agent market for starting pitchers, and another big one is about to go …

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says a deal for Zack Greinke “could come soon” and it’s currently “Dodgers vs. Giants” at the top of the bidding ladder.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick confirms that both the Dodgers and Giants are looking for an answer from Greinke, adding that the 32-year-old right-hander seeks a five- or six-year deal with a greater average annual value (AAV) than what Price just secured from Boston. That number would be $31 million, so we’re talking something close to $32 million through 2020-2021.

Greinke opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million contract with Los Angeles in October after posting a 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP across 222 2/3 regular-season innings in 2015. He finished second to the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.

The Red Sox get their ace! Boston signs David Price to a 7-year, $217 million deal


Multiple reports circulated in the past week that the Red Sox would need to unload the money truck in order to sign David Price. Well, the truck just got unloaded: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract.

This is, by far, the largest free agent contract the Red Sox have ever given a pitcher. It beats Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210 million deal signed last offseason as the largest ever free agent pitcher contract. Clayton Kershaw‘s contract extension with the Dodgers was for $215 million.

Price went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA pitching in the AL East while with the Tampa Bay Rays. After being traded to the Tigers just before the 2014 trade deadline he went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. He returned to the AL East with the Blue Jays this year, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. He also pitched in the playoffs for the Jays starting three times in four overall appearances.

The Red Sox were in dire need of pitching and they were said to be gunning for Price to fill that need. Target: acquired.

Major League Baseball’s annual drug testing report has been released

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MLB and the MLBPA just released the annual public report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator. It’s the annual report, mandated by the JDA, which says how many positive drug tests there were, what the drugs were, etc.

The notable numbers, which cover the period starting when the 2014 World Series ended until the 2015 World Series ended:

  • Total number of tests administered: 8,158. 6,536 of them were urine tests, 1,622 of them were blood tests for HGH;
  • 10 tests resulted in positives which led to discipline: 7 for PEDs, 2 for stimulants, one for DHEA;
  • The previous year there were 7,929 total tests with 12 which resulted in discipline;
  • There were the same number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted this year as last: 113. All but two were for attention deficit disorder. One was for gynecomastia, which is the swelling of the breast tissue in men due to a hormone imbalance, one was for a stress fracture in someone’s elbow.

A use exemption line item which had appeared on the list for the previous several years — hypogonadism — was not there, so congratulations to the anonymous player who was either cured or who retired.

As we always note, the number of players who got exemptions for ADD drugs is a bit higher than the occurrence of ADD in the population at large and, once you eliminate kids from ADHD occurrences, it’s likely considerably higher. But that’s none of my business.