Clemens’ lawyers wants a Congressman to take the stand

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Congressman Darrell Issa is now the chairman of the committee before which Roger Clemens appeared and allegedly perjured himself and which referred his testimony to prosecutors. Issa wasn’t the chairman at the time, however.  And at the time, he was highly critical of both the hearing itself and the referral for prosecution.

Indeed, he was extremely outspoken about it all, saying the following in newspaper articles at the time:

And then there is Issa, who ascended to chairman in 2011 after Republicans took control of the House. The California congressman had seemed perturbed that the committee was holding the hearing, saying it appeared too focused on alleged steroid use by an individual player.

“We’re not prosecutors, and we’re not supposed to worry about a former pusher and a former [alleged] user,” he said. “We’re supposed to be dealing with a whole industry that had a problem.”

He also described the hearings as a witch hunt. “We don’t really have a mandate to be looking at this,” he told New York’s Daily News. “To me, it smacks of the McCarthy era.” He later told the same newspaper that “this was all about entrapping Roger Clemens.”

There’s a battle on now to get Issa to take the stand in the Roger Clemens prosecution.  Clemens lawyers have subpoenaed him.  Issa is fighting the subpoena. The prosecutors are arguing it’s not relevant.  There will be a hearing on it all this week. How this cuts in my view:

  • It’s totally understandable why Clemens’ lawyers want Issa: they want to get him to slag on the prosecution like he did to the newspaper, to make jurors think this is all a waste of time;
  • That said, it’s hard to see how this is relevant. A congressional staffer already testified for the prosecution to establish whether or not the alleged perjury was “material.”  I suppose the defense has the right to offer its own evidence that the testimony was NOT “material,” but the stuff Issa said in that article doesn’t necessarily relate to that.  It relates to whether the hearing itself was useful or ill-advised.  If Issa is forced to testify, I could see a situation where he’d be barred from offering his opinions regarding the propriety of the hearing, even if he could talk about whether what Clemens said truly mattered;
  • As for Issa, he’s probably fighting the subpoena to avoid the awkward situation in which he’d risk calling his own committee’s work useless. I mean, he may think that particular hearing was, but the chairman of a committee likely doesn’t want to get into the business of doing this sort of thing. Not that it hasn’t happened before.  The linked article talks about past committee members testifying in referred prosecutions, sometimes on opposite sides of one another.

There are also some political overtones here in that Issa has been ripping Obama administration officials regarding responding to subpoenas while he’s trying to duck one of his own.  That kind of bores me, but the chatter surrounds it.  It’s made it juicy for the politicos anyway.

Fun times in the trial that will never end.

Must-Click Link: Where’s Timmy?

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Tim Lincecum last pitched last season for the Angels and he did not pitch well. Over the winter and into the spring there were reports that he was working out at a facility somewhere in Arizona with an aim toward trying to latch on to another team. He didn’t. And, given how his velocity and effectiveness had nosedived over the previous few seasons, it was probably unrealistic to think he’d make it back to the bigs.

But now, as Daniel Brown of the Mercury News reports, he seems to simply be gone.

He’s not missing in any legal sense — his friends and family know where he is — but he’s out of the public eye in a way that most players at the end of their careers or the beginning of their retirements usually aren’t. He’s not been hanging around his old club, even though the Giants say they’d love to honor him and give him a job if and when he announces his retirement. He’s not hanging around his high school or college alma maters even though he makes his home in Seattle, where they are. He’s gone from being one of the most identifiable and conspicuous presences in baseball to having disappeared from the public eye.

Brown’s story is an excellent one, touching on Lincecum’s professional rise and professional fall, as well as the personality traits that may suggest why he’s not eager to be making headlines or posing for pictures. A good read.

 

Major League Baseball claims it will “redouble its efforts” on expanded netting

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Yesterday, during the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium, a young girl was injured after a foul ball flew off the bat of Todd Frazier and into the stands along the third base line where she was sitting. In some parks that ball would be stopped because of netting down the line.

There was no netting that far down the line in Yankee Stadium, because (a) Major League Baseball does not require it; and (b) the Yankees have still not committed to expanding it like other teams have.

A few minutes ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement about the injury:

I’m not sure how baseball can “redouble” its efforts given that its efforts thus far have been to completely delegate the responsibility of expanded netting to the 30 clubs.

This delegation came in December of 2015 when Major League Baseball released its recommendation — not its mandate — that teams provide expanded netting. Teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts (i.e., the ends of the dugouts located closest to home plate) and within 70 feet of home plate with protective netting or other safety materials of the clubs’ choice. At the same time, they launched “fan education” guidelines about where to sit and whether or not they’ll be protected.

While these recommendations were better than nothing, they also seemed far more geared toward diminishing the liability of the league and its clubs than actively protecting fans from screaming projectiles.

The stuff about fan education was obviously a creature of an assumption-of-the-risk calculus. It was, essentially, a disclaimer of the “don’t say we didn’t warn you” variety and, as such, was aimed more at shielding baseball from liability over batted ball or bat-shard injuries than at directly shielding fans from such injuries. Even the netting recommendation could be construed as MLB insulating itself from being joined in a lawsuit at a later date if a club were to get sued over a fan injury. A way of saying “hey, we told the Yankees [or whoever] that they should do more, please don’t sue us too.”

It’s one thing to do all of that and walk away, as the league seemed content to do in 2015. It’s another thing to walk back today, as Manfred is, claiming that the league will “redouble” such transparently ineffective efforts. It’s frankly insulting. Yet this is baseball’s approach to the matter. The league is, for whatever reason, afraid to tell its clubs that it has to do something that is so clearly prudent. It, apparently, is waiting for a someone to be killed by a foul ball before mandating netting rather than meekly suggesting it.

Oh, I’m sorry. Waiting for someone else to be killed. Because it has happened before. Absent prudent protections it will, inevitably, happen again.

While Major League Baseball may have been safe from being held responsible for such things due to its ticket disclaimers and assumption of the risk arguments in the past, it won’t be in the future. One would hope it will not take death or debilitating injury of a fan for the league to accept it.