New York's governor got free World Series tickets

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Patterson World Series.jpgI am shocked, shocked to find that corruption is going on in Albany!

The state Commission on Public Integrity charged Gov. David A.
Paterson on Wednesday with violating state ethics laws when he secured
free tickets to the opening game of the World Series from the Yankees
last fall for himself and others. The announcement came as the
governor, already mired in scandal, met with his cabinet and insisted
he would stay in office.

In addition to violating the state’s ban on gifts to public
officials, the commission found that Mr. Paterson falsely testified
under oath that he had intended to pay for the tickets for his son and
his son’s friend. The commission determined that Mr. Paterson had never
intended to pay for the tickets and only did so after inquiries from
the media, after which he submitted a backdated check as payment.

One of my areas of specialty as a lawyer was public ethics laws. Indeed, I represented a whole bunch of public officials — and, more commonly, people who want to do business with public officials — who got into hot water over free tickets, hotel stays, meals and all manner of other perks, bribes and assorted nastiness.

It was a lot of fun! Especially when I got to ask my clients stuff like “now, you planned to pay for all of that, didn’t you . . .?” only to see the light slowly flicker in their eyes, and then go dark again.  When you see a politician struggle so mightily to lie only to come up short it actually restores your faith in the system a little.

Anyway, one thing I learned during all that work was that almost every state has a mirror-image gifts law. That means that it’s both illegal for a government official to accept valuable gifts from those who do business with the state — and the Yankees employ people who registered lobbyists with the State of New York — and illegal for people who are doing business with the government to give said official the gift.  We used to call it the “one steak, two charges” rule.

And yep, New York has such a law — The Lobbying Act — which prohibits a lobbyist or client of a lobbyist from offering or giving
a public official a gift more than nominal value unless under the circumstances
it is not reasonable to infer that the gift was intended to influence
such public official.  And in case you want to defend the Yankees and say that they weren’t trying to influence anyone, almost every state presumes that gifts of a certain value or exclusivity — which would totally cover primo World Series tickets — are intended to influence.

So, who on the Yankees gets charged with the ethics violation here?  I’m going to say A-Rod. It was probably his fault.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.