Roger Clemens trial is on track for July 6th

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Most trials never start when they’re supposed to due to all kinds of pretrial wrangling and stuff. But that’s not the case with Roger Clemens.  Today the law firm that could have appealed the order granting Clemens access to the Mitchell Report notes decided not to appeal, thereby clearing the way for baseball’s second biggest steroid/perjury/former superstar criminal trial to get underway on July 6th.

We’ll obviously get way more into it as the opening statements draw near, but for those who care and lost track: my view is that Clemens is in way, way, way deeper doo-doo than Bonds was. This is because, unlike Bonds, another witness and possibly multiple witnesses will take the stand in his case and will say, under oath, that Clemens lied.  Which kind of matters in a perjury case.

Is it a perfect case? No. Brian McNamee will be subject to a rigorous cross-examination based on the fact that he frequently lied in the past when it suited his interests to do so.  But he also can explain why he did that (i.e. to keep his meal ticket, Clemens, out of trouble), and that’s a somewhat understandable reason for lying from his perspective.  And it’s counterbalanced, of course, by the fact that Clemens will be portrayed as having ample reason to lie at the time, what with his career and then-good reputation to protect.

The best use of government resources? Nah. But given that Clemens’ own conduct and public relations onslaught — and not a crazy-obsessed government investigation — fomented the proceedings in which the alleged perjury took place, I have way less of a problem with this than I did with the Bonds prosecution.

Oh, and the fact that Clemens is kind of scummy helps my conscience too.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.