PETA ranks the veg-friendly food at major league ballparks. And I tell a story.

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The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has released their annual list of the top-10 vegetarian friendly ballparks.  I was surprised to read that last year’s winner was Philadelphia which, as Old Gator likes to remind us, is known for cheesesteak sandwiches. But they’re number two now. The winner: San Francisco, which is much more in keeping with our predispositions.

Enjoy the list, but the real reason I’m posting this is to tell a story. I may have told it here before, but I can’t remember so you probably can’t either.  Anyway:

The last stop in my legal career was at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.  One of my jobs there was to defend lawsuits brought against the state arising out of stuff that went down on the Statehouse grounds.  Some of it was slip-and-fall cases, but the vast majority of the work involved helping the people who managed the Statehouse property approve (or not approve) petitions for people who wanted to march or protest.

Normally it was easy: they’d call, asking if they can keep some group off the capitol steps and I’d say “Nope, sorry. Gotta let ’em march.”  The First Amendment is so troublesome that way.  But heck, several years earlier the KKK got to rally there, and if you can’t keep them out, you can’t keep anyone out. Besides, the guy who ran that operation was a cranky old guy who didn’t like anyone protesting, so it was a lot of fun to tell him just how little say over the matter he had.

But then, in the summer of 2009, came PETA.  Who, though I disagree with their stance on the tastiness of animals, their suitability for my barbecue and the comfort of their skin when put on my comfortable Eames lounge chair, I do respect in an odd fashion.  They’ve got moxy and chutzpah and, though they’re occasionally (frequently) insane, they usually seem to have a good sense of humor about themselves. Which is essential when you’re wrong so often. Live and let live, I say (note: this motto may not apply to cattle, pigs, chickens and other things that I may want for dinner this evening).

That summer PETA wanted to stage a massive protest on the Statehouse lawn in which they would (a) place approximately 1000 buckets full of pig poop in neat rows; (b) place giant industrial-sized fans all around them in order to blow the stink all over downtown Columbus; (c) bring in giant amplifiers with which to project the sounds of pigs being slaughtered to a mutliple-block radius; and (d) erect giant video screens on which the horrors of factory farming would be displayed.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the guy who ran the Statehouse called me, somewhat upset over all of this.  And while I normally would just say “First Amendment, forget it” and go back to my clandestine baseball blogging, I felt that I needed to dig into this one a bit more.  So I did. And I learned that PETA had just recently tried to do the same protest in Washington and maybe in a few other states besides Ohio, but were denied everywhere else.  Indeed, it was my assumption — based on the fact that they hadn’t yet started suing everyone over it — that the protest was never really going to happen and that they just wanted the headlines that the state’s rejection of the application would provide.  Smart!

The whole thing fascinated me, really, so I decided that rather than simply send a letter saying no, I’d try to find a legitimate yet innocuous basis for denying their application, putting the ball back in their court rather than letting them use my state as an example of intolerance and authoritarianism for their next press release.

After an afternoon of research with a summer law clerk — who herself happened to be a vegan and former PETA member and who had quit the organization because this kind of nonsense bugged the heck out of her — we found some obscure 19th century law that dealt with the storing of offal within the city limits.  We didn’t think that offal and pig poop were the same thing, but we figured it would be fun to make the PETA lawyers research that one and explain it in their letter objecting to our decision or in the lawsuit if it came to that.  If they want to fight over the true nature of poop, by God, I’d fight that fight.

We sent the letter denying their right to rally on the Statehouse lawn.  I spent another four months at the AG’s office before coming to NBC full time. Never heard back from them, so even if it was just a phantom protest/publicity stunt, I’m still claiming that I’m 1-0 all-time vs. PETA.

Gosh, remembering that has me in a really good mood now. I think this evening I’m going to eat a really bloody steak in celebration.

Buyers and Sellers at the Trade Deadline: National League East

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With Manny Machado’s trade completed, the rest of baseball can now turn its attention to the non-blue chip players on the market.

Yesterday, in our look-ahead to the second half, we mentioned some of the top players likely to be made available. Today we look at each team to see who is buying, who is selling, what they’re seeking and what they have to offer. Note: almost every contender, always, needs relief help.

As a reminder, the non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31. Players traded after that date but before August 31 need to pass through waivers unclaimed before they can be traded. All players traded before August 31 are eligible to be on their new team’s playoff roster should they make the postseason.

Next up, the National League East:

Phillies
Status: Buyers. They were a serious contender for Manny Machado until the closing bell.
Wanted: They could really use a third baseman or a shortstop, so expect them to bid hard for Mike Moustakas or Eduardo Escobar should the Twins make him available.

Braves
Status: Buyers. They were in on the Manny Machado talks too but not that in, it seems. They mortgaged their future for a star once when they traded for Mark Teixeira back in the day and weren’t likely to do it again. Aren’t likely to do it even on a smaller scale in the coming weeks.
Wanted: Some bullpen help. A starter if one can be found cheap. A bench bat. They have a loaded farm system and contention wasn’t really supposed to happen until next year, so they’ll be cautious in anything they do.

Nationals
Status: Buyers. They already acquired Kelvin Herrera. They’ll seek to acquire more.
Wanted: Catcher. J.T. Realmuto would be a big get but the Marlins seem to want to build around him or, at the very least, seem to not want to give him to a division rival. There had been talks of a Wilson Ramos reunion, but he was just placed on the DL with a bum hamstring, so that may not be happening.

Mets
Status: Sellers. Probably. They need to figure out where in the hell the organization is heading first. This year is a lost cause, but do they gear up for next year or just burn it all down and try to rebuild?
For Sale: Maybe Noah Syndergaard and/or Jacob deGrom if they take the “burn it all down” approach. If they just try to retrench for next year, they could deal Jerry Blevins and, perhaps, Zach Wheeler or Steven Matz. Jeurys Familia and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera are both free agents after this year so they could be shopped regardless.

Marlins
Status: Sellers. They’re still in the frame-up portion of their rebuild.
For Sale: Assuming Realmuto does not go, any reliever who isn’t nailed down might be flipped. Put your bids in now for Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider, Brad Ziegler and Adam Conley. If it’s position players you seek, feel free to ask the Marlins about Starlin Castro, Justin Bour, Derek Dietrich or Miguel Rojas.