George Steinbrenner blamed his criminal conviction on his lawyers

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I’m not a religious man, and even if I were, I would like to think that my conception of the Hereafter would allow for non-violent criminals to enter through the gates. Life is more interesting with scoundrels around and I presume death would be too.

That said, there would have to be some sort of vetting process, be it St. Peter or whatever it is you believe in.  If I ran the afterlife, my gatekeeper would probably be like Loni Anderson on WKRP: not particularly helpful, but you never really care all that much.

Wait. Where was I? Oh, the Hereafter. Here’s how I imagine George Steinbrenner’s entrance interview went when the subject of his criminal conviction came up:

Loni: Now, about that campaign contribution business …

Big Stein: Hey now, I was pardoned for that!

Loni: Of course you were. I believe it was Mr. Reagan, wasn’t it?  He’s still over there in the waiting room until we clear up all of this illegally arming rebels business. Hi Ronny!  Anyway, back to you …

Big Stein:  Look here, that was bad legal advice. It says so in today’s Associated Press!  They released the documents! Big Stein was trying to do the right thing but the lawyers, oh boy, those lawyers. They messed up everything!

Loni: You have a point about the lawyers, generally speaking. We have a whole annex for them. Their wait to get in is interminable. But I fail to see how that helps you, Georgie. Because it does seem fairly clear that you were trying to hide campaign contributions that were clearly illegal even back in the wild west pre-Watergate days.  Or are you saying that your lawyer told you to give your employees bogus bonus checks that directly corresponded with the amounts you intended to donate to the Nixon campaign?  And if so, that you thought such advice was on the up-and-up?

Big Stein: Look, honey, I’m tellin’ ya. I was innocent!

Loni:  George, you’re gonna fit right in. Everyone in here is innocent, you know that? Heywood, what you in here for?

Heywood: Didn’t do it. Lawyer screwed me!

Loni: See what I mean?

At that point I’d call out to Loni’s desk and tell her to let Steinbrenner in.  What would Heaven be without him around to make things fun?

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.