For those of you following, Roger Clemens and all of the lawyers will be back in court today to argue over whether the government should be allowed to try him again. Or if, rather, the government will be held to have lost it’s chance to do so because they intentionally sought a mistrial because their case was going sideways.
Clemens’ argument that it was intentional will be a hard sell. As I see it, there are three potential reasons whey the government put on evidence that they weren’t supposed to:
1. They’re rank incompetents, unable to edit a video tape and/or comprehend a court order;
2. They tried to intentionally derail the case; or
3. They’re federal prosecutors who are routinely given the benefit of the doubt and who are routinely allowed to get away with questionable crap like this, intentional or otherwise, because the criminal defendants they usually go after are poor and poorly-represented and, as a result, the prosecutors have just sort of come to expect that when they do stuff like this they’ll be able to talk their way out of it with a scolding, and oftentimes they never even get the scolding.
I’ve worked with federal prosecutors. I’ve yet to meet a truly incompetent one. They’re usually pretty good as far as actually knowing how to do their job. And, as many have noted, the trial had just gotten underway so it’s hard to argue that the prosecutors truly thought the case was in terrible shape, scuttling number 2.
But even if I personally believe number 3, I imagine it will be called an “inadvertent error” by the judge and Clemens will be tried again.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.