Lupica

Mike Lupica continues to show his legal expertise

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Today Mike Lupica writes about the A-Rod appeal. As my post from this morning suggests, I’m actually with him regarding how much of a clown show the protests outside of the arbitration have become. But of course Lupica can’t make one decent point and get off it. He has to use it as a new excuse to go after Rodriguez because that’s just what he does.

Except he does it in the dumbest ways possible.  Today he makes two arguments in furtherance of his “A-Rod is an awful monster” campaign. First, if A-Rod is so wronged, why has he not got on a witness stand and proclaimed his innocence?

Through it all, you keep waiting for Alex Rodriguez to be the one to tell you that the case against him is unjust and unfair, that he is an innocent man. Only he never says that, not even to the media, as if he’s under oath. He never says that, his handlers never say it, at least on the record. He just says he will tell his story at the appropriate time.

And you wonder what could possibly be a more appropriate time than at his own arbitration hearing!

You wonder why Alex Rodriguez doesn’t testify on his own behalf the absolute first chance he gets, proclaim his innocence so loudly that they can hear him downstairs on the street between the police barricades.

Any smart observer of this knows the answer to that: A-Rod’s defense is not one of innocence. It’s one of proportionality of punishment. That his suspension is too long compared to other similarly-situated offenders. And more than merely misrepresenting the defense in an effort to make A-Rod seem more disingenuous than he is, he misrepresents how the the arbitration works.  It does not require the player’s testimony. And no one with half a brain would go tell the media — which is what Lupica clearly wants — all about his case while it’s still pending either.

The second argument: if A-Rod has nothing to hide, why is his grand jury testimony from the Anthony Galea case still private, hmm?

You wonder about something else in this case, wonder if Rodriguez is so falsely accused, and such a victim of an MLB investigation his lawyers are flop-sweat desperate to put on trial, why did those same lawyers fight so hard in Buffalo to keep Rodriguez’s grand jury testimony in the federal case against Dr. Anthony Galea, Alex Rodriguez’s old doctor, the patron saint of human grown hormone, sealed from now until the end of time?

If there isn’t anything in Rodriguez’s grand jury testimony about his use of banned substances, if there isn’t anything in there that can hurt the guy, why are his lawyers so scared about it?

Let’s set aside the fact that A-Rod’s current legal team is not comprised of “those same lawyers” who represented him when he gave grand jury testimony in Buffalo. A-Rod hired Joe Tacopina and a different legal team since then, so here Lupica is smearing the wrong folks.

Instead, let’s focus on the fact that no lawyers are “fighting so hard” to keep A-Rod’s grand jury testimony sealed.  Grand jury testimony is sealed as a matter of course pursuant to federal law. The witness can say what he said in front of a grand jury but no one else privy to it can release it. If they do, they can go to jail. Some folks may be fighting so hard to unseal it, but it’s supposed to remain sealed. That’s how the law works.

But of course if you’re Lupica there’s no sense in understanding how grand juries work. To do so would prevent a great opportunity for grandstanding.

Twins pitcher barfs before almost every appearance

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18:  Ryan O'Rourke #61 of the Minnesota Twins reacts after loading up the bases in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on August 18, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Twins righty Ryan O'Rourke has pitched in 54 big league games. He has barfed before almost every one of them.

No, really:

Through his first 54 big-league outings over the last past two years, O’Rourke estimates he emptied the contents of his stomach close to every time.

“I don’t do it in the public’s eye,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “I go in the bathroom, or sometimes it’s just on the back of the mound. But, yeah, it happens.”

I wonder if I’ve barfed 54 times in my entire life. I doubt I have. Then again, I’m not doing anything in front of tens of thousands of people with potentially millions of dollars at stake.

Yet he who is without sin hurl the first, um. Well, never mind.

The new intentional walk rule isn’t a big deal but it’s still dumb

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 06:  Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets calls for an intentional walk as Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Let us preface this by stipulating that the new rule in which pitchers will no longer have to throw four balls to issue an intentional walk is not a big deal, objectively speaking. Teams don’t issue many IBBs to begin with. A couple a week, maybe? Fewer? Moreover, the times when a pitcher tosses one to the backstop or a batter reaches out and smacks a would-be intentional ball may be a lot of fun, but they’re extraordinarily rare. You can go years without seeing it happen.

So, yes, the intentional walk rule announced yesterday is of negligible consequence. We’ll get used to it quickly and it will have little if any impact on actual baseball. It won’t do what it’s supposed to do — speeding up games — but it won’t harm anything that is important either.

But let us also stipulate that the new rule is dumb.

It’s dumb because it’s a solution in search of a problem. Pace of play is a concern, but to listen to Rob Manfred and his surrogates in the media tell it, it’s The Most Pressing Issue of Our Time. Actually, it’s not. No one is abandoning baseball because of 5-15 minutes here or there and no one who may be interested in it is ceasing their exploration of the game because of it. And even if they were, IBBs are rare and they’re not time-consuming to begin with, so it’s not something that will make a big difference. It’s change for change’s sake and so Rob Manfred can get some good press for looking like a Man of Action.

It’s also dumb because it’s taking something away, however small it is. One of my NBC coworkers explained it well this morning:

I agree. Shamelessness is a pretty big problem these days, so let’s not eliminate shame when it is truly due.

Picture it: it’s a steamy Tuesday evening in late July. The teams are both way below .500 and are probably selling off half of their lineup next week. There are, charitably, 8,000 people in the stands. The game is already dragging because of ineptitude and an understandable lack of urgency on the part of players who did not imagine nights like this when they were working their way to the bigs.

Just then, one of the managers — an inexperienced young man who refuses to deviate from baseball orthodoxy because, gosh, he might get a hard question from a sleepy middle aged reporter after the game — holds up four fingers for the IBB. The night may be dreary, but dammit, he’s going to La Russa the living hell out of this game.

That man should be booed. Boo this man. The drunks and college kids who paid, like, $11 to a season ticket holder on StubHub to get into this godforsaken game have earned the right to take their frustrations out on Hunter McRetiredBackupCatcher for being a wuss and calling for the IBB. It may be the only good thing that happens to them that night, and now Rob Manfred would take that away from them. FOR SHAME.

And don’t forget about us saps at home, watching this garbage fire of a game because it beats reading. We’re now going to have to listen to this exchange, as we have listened to it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since the 2017 season began:

Play-by-Play Guy: “Ah, here we go. They’re calling for the intentional walk. Now, in case you missed it, this is the way we’re doing it now. The new rule is that the manager — yep, right there, he’s doing it — can hold up four fingers to the home plate umpire and — there it goes — he points to first base and the batter takes his base.”

Color Commentator, Who played from 1975-87, often wearing a mustache: “Don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. There was always a chance the pitcher throws a wild pitch. It happened to us against the Mariners in 1979 [Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice: it didn’t] and it has taken away something special from the game. I suppose some number-cruncher with a spreadsheet decided that this will help speed up the game, but you know what that’s worth.

No matter what good or bad the rule brings, this exchange, which will occur from April through September, will be absolutely brutal. Then, in October, we get to hear Joe Buck describe it as if we never heard it before because Fox likes to pretend that the season begins in October.

Folks, it’s not worth it. And that — as opposed to any actual pro/con of the new rule — is why it is dumb. Now get off my lawn.