Someone thinks Jerry Remy shouldn’t come back to the booth

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We learned yesterday that Jerry Remy will return to the Red Sox booth for the first time since his son’s arrest in the murder of his girlfriend and the mother of his child, Jennifer Martel. Most sentiment I’ve seen since the announcement has been positive. Remy is an institution in New England and his absences from Sox broadcasts for health reasons and then last year’s tragedy were felt by a lot of people.

But not everyone thinks Remy coming back is a good thing. Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald has a column today in which he argues that Remy shouldn’t come back. Why? Because it may make some NESN viewers uncomfortable:

To watch a Red Sox game on NESN this season, and to see and hear Remy engage in his famously upbeat and entertaining banter with play-by-play man Don Orsillo, it will be difficult not to think of that brutal murder, difficult not to speculate about the trial, difficult not to think about that little girl . . . this is the sobering question that must be asked: What about the comfort zone of NESN viewers? If it’s true that watching a baseball game on television is supposed to be entertainment and escapism, how will it be possible to watch and listen to Remy this season without being constantly reminded of the nightmare that he, his wife Phoebe, their two other children, and, yes, the Martel family, are living?

I will note that Buckley quite obviously cares about Remy and the victims, living and dead, of last year’s tragedy. His column is not insensitive at all and, yes, there is likely truth to the idea that some people will be reminded of the murder when they hear Remy’s voice this spring. But it is simply incomprehensible to me that any such discomfort means that Remy shouldn’t be back in the both if he wants to be.

Is Remy supposed to give up his life’s work and the thing he specifically identifies as something which will bring happiness and normalcy back to his life because someone may, briefly, be reminded of the murder? Is he supposed to go lock himself up in his house and quietly, out of the view of others, await his death? To the contrary of Buckley’s premise, I think a lot of people in New England care about Jerry Remy and, given that they “know” him in that way we know people we watch on TV a lot, care about how he’s doing in the wake of the murder. They probably want what’s best for him and his return to the booth will probably bring people a lot of joy.

But whichever way that all cuts, who are we to criticize how a person moves on from such tragedy? That goes doubly for Steve Buckley given that, in the past, he has felt quite differently about such things. Here he is writing in 2012 after Johnny Pesky’s funeral. You may recall some in the media griped that not many current Boston Red Sox players showed up at the funeral. Buckley correctly thought those folks were out of line, saying “I don’t think it’s part of my job to legislate other people’s mourning rituals . . .”

Would that he felt the same way now about Jerry Remy.

The Braves’ top minor league team to rename itself

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Whereas once it was expected that all sports teams would be named after ferocious animals, notable historic figures or events or something else otherwise inspiring, there has been a trend in the minor leagues over the past few years to give teams somewhat silly names.

The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The New Orleans Baby Cakes. The Down East Wood Ducks. Etc.

I suspect a lot of that is fueled by a desire to sell intentionally uncool merchandise to ironic hipsters. Some of it may simply be a function of branding and creating a team identity that will not, for a moment, cause the local nine to be confused with anyone else. Not that those things are mutually exclusive. Whatever the impulse, the trend will no doubt continue.

The next place we could see it: Gwinnett County Georgia, where the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A team plays:

Gwinnett Braves general manager North Johnson announced a contest to rename the Triple-A team for the 2018 season and beyond.

Fans and members of the Gwinnett community can suggest new team names starting Monday through June 2. After all team name suggestions are submitted, a final round of voting on the top choices will last from June 19-July 3 on the Gwinnett Braves’ website.

Like all but one of its other affiliates, Gwinnett is named the Braves, just like the parent club. Being so close to Atlanta has caused it some identify problems, however, as one suburban Atlantan telling another that he’s “going to the Braves game” tomorrow could be confusing. Especially now that the major league team also plays in suburban Atlanta, about 35 miles apart. It makes sense.

So, go to the website, folks, and suggest a new name. The sillier the better. Basebally McBaseball Face? The Gwinnett Crackers?

 

David Ortiz thinks the Yankees leaked his 2003 drug test results

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David Ortiz was one of the hundred or so ballplayers who tested positive for PEDs during the 2003 survey testing which was designed to determine whether or not baseball’s drug problem was significant enough to warrant full-blown testing the following year.  His and everyone else’s name was supposed to remain confidential — indeed, the test results were supposed to be destroyed — but the government illegally seized them and, eventually, his, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa’s names were leaked.

While most people have long moved on from those survey test results — and while Rob Manfred himself recently said that those results may not, in fact, establish that Ortiz took banned substances  — the story still sticks in Ortiz’s craw. So much so that he’s still out speculating about how his results were made public. His theory? The Yankees did it. From an interview on WEEI:

“What was the reason for them to come out with something like that?” he said. “The only thing that I can think of, to be honest with you, a lot of big guys from the Yankees were being caught. And no one from Boston. This was just something that leaked out of New York, and they had zero explanation about it.”

I’m gonna call B.S. on that.

At the time names were surfacing in connection with those test results, in the summer of 2009, I was given a list of players by an anonymous source. This person claimed it was a list of all 100+ players who tested positive in 2003. Given the nature in which they were provided to me and given that, at the time, there were a lot of people circulating hoax lists, I was dubious to say the least. I had a separate source at the time who knew people who had access to the actual list of players. The source would not tell me who was on the actual list — it was and continues to be confidential — but the knowledgable source did confirm for me that, as I suspected, my list was bunk. I obviously didn’t write anything about it and moved on.

Some added value from that conversation, however, was learning just how few people actually had access to the real list. A small handful of top officials at the union and the league office did, I was told, and obviously the government had it given that they seized it in their idiotic and illegal raid, but that was it. Clubs, I was specifically told, did not have the list.

We’ll never know for sure, but I strongly, strongly suspect that the source of the leak was either IRS/FDA agent Jeff Novitzky, who spearheaded the government’s investigation into PEDs or someone close to him, such as the prosecutors with whom he worked. Novitzky spent close to a decade outing and prosecuting athletes for PED use and, in my view and the view of many others who followed the story at the time, he saw his work as an almost holy crusade. As the above-linked story about the federal court smacking down his seizure of the 2003 test results as illegal, he was often overzealous.

The reporter who broke the story of David Ortiz’s positive test result was Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times. Schmidt almost always had the first stories about players being outed as PED users during that period and his reporting on steroids in baseball in general almost always carried with it a pro-government slant. As I said, we’ll never know for sure, but it seems obvious to me that federal investigators and prosecutors were his sources. I suspect they were his sources for the name-naming articles as well. When Ortiz’s name leaked, Novitzky’s investigation was on the brink of being smacked down hard by a federal court and, I suspect, he leaked Ortiz’s name to the New York Times as a means of putting a face on the story and getting public sentiment on the side of those who would name names.

Like I said, though, that’s all ancient history at this point. At least to most people. It’s not to David Ortiz, which is understandable given that the whole incident affected him personally. But I think he’s wrong on the Yankees being the ones to out him. I don’t think anyone with the Yankees knew who was actually on the list. And even if they did, they had no incentive to get into some sort of P.R. war about PED users given that they already at least one prominent superstar getting killed for PED use and a lot of other ones who could possibly have been on the list as well.

But the feds had the list. And a desire to have the bad guys they were trying to prosecute shamed in the public arena. I’d bet a decent sum of money that they’re the ones who leaked your name, Big Papi. I’d aim your rhetorical guns at them if I were you.