My heavens! Massachusetts Senator takes political donation from Yankees president

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There are a lot more important things to get outraged about in politics, but if you’re gonna do things like wear the local team’s gear and stand in front of their ballpark in campaign ads in order to try to co-opt some goodwill, you had better not do this:

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown may be rooting for the Red Sox against the Yankees this week, but the head of the hated Pinstripes is going to bat for Brown.

Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, donated the maximum $2,500 to the Massachusetts Republican’s re-election campaign last month, according to newly released campaign finance records. That’s right, the commander of the Evil Empire is helping to pay for all those Brown ads championing his support of the Red Sox.

It’d be trivial if, as the article notes, the woman Brown beat in his last election didn’t get all kinds of bad press for thinking that Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan when trying to criticize Schilling’s endorsement of Brown. Of course she was a terrible candidate in a number of ways, so that may not have done her in. But the point remains that silly Red Sox issues seem to matter in Massachusetts politics.

Ultimately, though, this will make me sad if it becomes a real issue instead of an amusing note. Because if people get all angry about a moderate individual donation from a private citizen who happens to be connected with a sports team they hate for tribal reasons, while they seem to care less about huge, systematic purchasing of our political system by corporate and other special interests, it means that we’re pretty much broken as a republic.

(thanks to @baseballot for the heads up)

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.