Buster Olney is right on the money

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I rip reporters when I think they go off track on the steroids business, most recently with Mark McGwire, so it’s only fair that I point out when someone stone-cold nails it, as Buster Olney did with what he wrote today regarding McGwire (and Tiger Woods):

Why would Tiger Woods need to say he’s sorry out loud? Isn’t that
something that should really be reserved for his family? If Tiger Woods
wanted to bare his soul for the benefit of the public he felt he
betrayed in some way, he’d take all and any questions. If he doesn’t
feel that way … isn’t this whole process all a charade concocted for
the consumption of the media that must be fed? . . .

. . . Mark McGwire has made it clear that he doesn’t feel like his use of
performance-enhancing drugs helped him as a player, and whether we
agree with that or not, this is his stance, which he reiterated
Wednesday. So why would he apologize out loud? Really, it was fairly
evident that his remorse is built in disappointing his father, his son,
Tony La Russa, and others close to him.

But McGwire did his
thing, and now Tiger Woods will follow, in the confessors’ version of
the media perp walk. None of it speaks well of where we are in 2010, in
this business of truth-seeking.

McGwire had to be at least somewhat forthcoming simply because he was asking for a job, and MLB probably wouldn’t have approved of it if he didn’t say something,* but I think he’s said all we can expect of him. But Buster is absolutely right that this ongoing drama, such as it is, is more about the media’s sense of self-entitlement than it is about remorse, real or imagined.

*Woods, on the other hand could easily issue a press release that says “I have made apologies to those who are entitled to them, and will say nothing further about my family or my personal life in public from now on.  I will resume playing golf in the ThusandSuch Invitational this April.  Any questions that aren’t about golf will be ignored. Thanks.” In fact, I hope he does something like that and transforms this into a full-blown pro wrestling-style heel turn. What will people do? He’s Tiger Woods. Golf needs him more than he needs it right now.

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.