Someone Paid to Talk About Sports Just Said This About Sports

Mike Francesa, while debating a caller about Craig Biggio’s Hall of Fame candidacy:

“As I see it, there are two criteria for being a Hall of Famer.  First, you ask yourself, ‘Is this guy a Hall of Famer?’  If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, than the guy isn’t a Hall of Famer.”

I was too busy trying to keep my brain from leaking out my ears to hear the second criterium.  This guy might have out-Maddened Madden with this one.

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168 thoughts on “Someone Paid to Talk About Sports Just Said This About Sports

  1. Wait…what?

    In any event, I’m glad to see a lot of sportswriters I respect ranting about the travesty that is the failure to elect Biggio, Piazza, and Bagwell this year. And I’m appalled at the loss of support for Tim Raines, who really deserves to be in as well. With the backlog getting worse, there’s a very real chance that Raines never gets in, and it may be a decade before Piazza and Bagwell get in – something needs to change with the election process, and soon. There’s way too many voters who are trying to make a political statement by voting for almost no one, or at most one or two candidates, and with the 75% requirement, they’re able to really fish things up, essentially turning it into a requirement that candidates get 85% of the votes of people who actually take their vote seriously.

    Anyhow, I’ve also gone back and forth a million times on Jack Morris’ case, though I very much agree with Lou Whitaker’s suggestion that he (Whitaker) was the best of the three Tigers, and Morris would be the least likely to get a vote from me out of him, Whitaker, and Trammell (which is to say that Whitaker definitely belongs, Trammell belongs only if Whitaker is in, and Morris is iffy no matter what). I’m not terribly upset that Morris has to wait for the Veterans’ Committee.

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    • I agree with just about all of this. I’m a firm “No” on Morris and a firm “Yes” on the other two Tigers. Rock Raines deserves it hands down. Biaggio, Bagwell, and Piazza are unfairly maligned. For what it’s worth, I’d vote in Bonds and Clemens.

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      • I missed Tim Raines in his prime. I was never a fan of the teams he played for. And I still can’t fathom how fewer than half of the voters thought he deserved to be in the Hall. On the other hand, I’m pretty certain that the reason I feel so passionately about Biggio is NL Central homerism. Especially since the Astros and their damned dome were such a pain in the ass back in the Aughts.

        (On Morris, Trammell, and Whitaker, I’ll just ditto the above.)

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      • Nope. The roid use takes it all away, in my book. A person gets into the Hall because their play thru their entire career, which includes character and commitment, not just talent.

        It’s political.

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  2. Biggio would have gotten in this time except for the moron who turned in a blank ballot and the other moron who voted only for Jack Morris. (Not hyperbole: lowering the divisor by two would give him 75%.) Honestly, I’m simply going to stop paying any attention to the Hall of Fame.

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  3. I’m a little bummed about Biggio. I’m super happy about McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Palmeiro and Clemens.

    I don’t really understand the comment by the radio jock. If he’s saying to keep the emotions in check, then I get it. A lot of people think a lot of people should get a plaque in a building with a lot of other people.

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    • I misread the quote. I though it was: if you reallyreally think he’s hall-worthy, then he isn’t. Which is kindof a nice sentiment, no?

      Reading it semantically correctly now, I think he’s just saying a ball players numbers have to be so beyond question that anything short of resounding yesness means he’s not worthy. What’s wrong with that?

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      • Well, he was debating what criteria to consider in answering the question, “Is this guy a Hall of Famer?” Simply restating the question isn’t, itself, a criterion. Because you are still using other criteria to determine why someone is a Hall of Famer.

        He is basically appealing to the smell test. Which I don’t like, but okay, some people do. But, still, there is some dividing line on which one side lies those who pass and on the other are those who don’t. And that line is defined by something. It is not defined by restating the question.

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      • Well, for him it’s defined by the property of resoundingness, which may beg more questions than it answers. But it’s a vague enough criterion that he can shout down callers to keep the show entertaining.

        So maybe the question has been answered.

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      • But doesn’t resoundingness refer to the degree or intensity of something?

        Let’s ask the question, “Was this guy a great ballplayer?” And say that we should only consider someone a great ballplayer if the answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes.” Well, Craig Biggio compared to the entire world population is undoubtedly and resoundingly a great ballplayer. He is in the .0000…1% of humans capable of playing Major League Baseball. The answer is a resounding yes. But if you compare Craig Biggio to the entire population of Major League Basball players… well, he might garner a yes, but perhaps no resoundingly so.

        So, we’re not really any closer to answering the question.

        “Was he great? Was he really great? Was he really, REALLY great?” It still depends on how we define those things, which Francesa has yet to do.

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      • Well, I hear ya. I think he’s just saying that anything short of a resounding yes means the guy isn’t Hall worthy. And in some sense that’s true. I mean, if you look at a guy’s individual numbers and his play in big games and his contributions to winning championships (whatever), and you’re sort of on the fence about whether that’s enough to get in – you aren’t giving a resounding yes – then that guy shouldn’t get your vote.

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      • “…a guy’s individual numbers and his play in big games and his contributions to winning championships…”

        But all those are criteria. I realize I’m being hyper literal. It just literally hurt my head because he said the first part… “Here are my criteria for answering the question”… then he said the next part “Ask yourself…” and I was like, “Wait, what??? YOU CAN’T JUST ASK THE QUESTION AGAIN AND INSIST CASE CLOSED!”

        But that is what passes as hard hitting analysis nowadays. Francesa has clearly been mailing it in since his divorce from Mad Dog Russo. But that was several years ago. Is no one paying attention?

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      • I don’t need the criteria to be 100% objective, but I need them to exist. If your criteria for answering the question is the question itself, that feels at least a bit circular. And if that is how you try to win an argument, it is pretty weak sauce.

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  4. Someone paid to talk about sports is typically someone paid to say inane things in the first place on the basis of stirring up conversations. I don’t follow this to be unusual… Witness Dan Dierdorf’s entire color commentary career.

    Seconding Mike. I have only paid attention to the “Hall of Merit” community rather than the HoF voting process which seems entirely arbitrary and insane. Instead of debating the merits of “Jack Morris”, they had a hard time deciding whether Schilling or Mussina should be a 4th possible inductee, wasn’t as keen on Glavine (he made it in there too), and already had Biggio and Piazza in last year. Plus the various roids players over the last couple years, all except Sosa, are in. Raines is in. Bagwell. Etc.

    If there weren’t a museum somewhere, this would be very easy to completely ignore it. If the sports talk circuit says stupid things about it, it’s even easier.

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  5. I actually don’t think that’s a crazy criterion. It’s the Hall of Fame. If you say the name to yourself and it doesn’t sounds pretty darn famous, that does seem like it can be a legitimate strike against for someone if they’re inclined to see it that way. If it were “The Hall of Excellence,” that would be different, and I also have no problem with people treating it like the Hall of Excellence and developing their criteria on that basis. But since it’s the Hall of Fame, I don’t really have a problem with other people developing their criteria like it’s the Hall of Fame, and, honestly, I think that one is a reasonable criterion to have for that.

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  6. Actually, Francesca might have given us the most profound analytical tool to use in syllogistic logic since Aristotle himself reminded us that A is A. He’s demonstrated the corollary, that ~A is ~A. Consider:

    “When I want a hot dog for lunch, the first thing I gotta know is, is this a hot dog? Because if the answer isn’t a resounding ‘yes,’ then my friend, that is not a hot dog. I’m moving on.”

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  7. See it as the “Has Even Jaybird Heard Of This Guy?” test.

    Piazza would make it in on that one. Biggio and Bagwell wouldn’t.

    There are a number of problems with this test, of course. It’s probably weighted to give an unfair advantage to Yankees (which might be a chicken/egg question) and the Blake Street Bombers. It would also result in Pete Rose getting in.

    So we probably need to hear what the second criteria is.

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  8. “Coach, what’s your strategy for the upcoming game?”

    “Well, the way we see it is, to win the game we’re gonna have to score more points than the other team. If we don’t manage to do that we’re gonna have a tough time beating those guys. But we’re gonna go out there and give it a hundred-eleven percent.”

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    • The CBA calls for a 50-game suspension for a first offense. Selig imposed a 211-game suspension, and the arbitrator “compromised” by lowering it to 162. Since the CBA calls for binding arbitration to settle all disputes, ARod’s threats to sue are pretty empty ones.

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      • ARod’s threats to sue are pretty empty ones.

        I dunno. I think the threat is credible – he’s suing Selig for something to with being a witch, and he’s suing the Yankee team doctor for quackery – so he’s not shy about throwing money at lawyers.

        The weird thing is that if he appealed the initial suspension to someone other than the arbitrator and the same conclusions were arrived at (the obstruction charges get thrown out), then he’d probably have received a 50 game suspension as the maximum under the CBA.

        I don’t know what recourse he had to appeal, but it does seem strange that the only charge he’s been “convicted” of is a first-time PED-use offense.

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      • Could he have gone to anyone but the arbitrator?

        Exactly. Maybe that is something covered by the CBA, tho – that appeals for drug suspensions are resolved by an arbitrator.

        And really, I don’t feel too bad for ARod in all this. That would be conceding he’s the victim here, and he isn’t, even tho the process seems a little odd to me.

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      • It was a question more than a point I was making. I just don’t know how these things work.

        I think I may be instictively defend-ARod after the atrocious way that the previous relation came to be. It’s hard for me to believe that’s not being considered here, and it shouldn’t be considered here at all (at all!). I mean, I get that ARod isn’t a victim and that there is the overwhelming likelihood he has been lying and cheating for a really long time… but my greater concern here is the process. (Or maybe it’s just being disagreeable…)

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      • The commissioner has wide and somewhat unconstrained powers to act for “the good of the game”, which I presume also allow him to hand down whatever punishments he chooses, subject only to an arbitrator’s ruling, So far as I can tell, there was no other place to appeal. “Binding arbitration” is just that.

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      • So far as I can tell, there was no other place to appeal.

        From what I’ve been able to gather, he wants to take it to federal court which would require – it seems to me – establishing the claim that the current CBA is somehow a violation of rights or due process (something), thereby invalidating the entire agreement.

        That seems like a loooong haul. Especially since he says he wants to strengthen future CBAs and protect player’s rights, one of which (paradoxically) is the right of players to enter into CBA’s, it would seem.

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      • And that’s why ARod’s threats are empty. Overturning the principle that a contract can require binding arbitration would have gigantic repercussions. Nor is this a case where ARod can argue he was pressured or didn’t know what he was agreeing to: the CBA was negotiated by a rich and powerful labor union.

        And no one in the players union would be on his side in such a suit. Arbitration has done a lot for the players. That’s where free agency came from, as well as the anti-collusion rulings. The union does not want to see that sort of thing turned from a simple decision into a drawn-out series of lawsuits.

        Just not gonna happen.

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      • I’m not one to get all conspiracy-theory-y, but I can’t help but think that the Yanks saving $40M if he was suspended for all 162 games didn’t come into play here. As I understand it, if ARod suited up just one day for the Yankees, than his entire contract counts against the tax (even if it isn’t all paid to him). If he is out the entire year, then it all comes off the books. He was suspended an entire year, even though the maximum (theoretically) was less than that (150).

        Believe it or not, I am somewhat sympathetic towards ARod. I don’t know that he did anything more or less than what a whole bunch of other people did. It seems as if Selig and the Yanks did their best to damn him. Selig because he can stake his claim on not being soft on steroids because he can say he took down one of the greatest players ever. The Yanks for financial reasons. This was not about the integrity of the game but about legacies and money. For that reason, it seems ARod got a raw deal.

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      • The union released a telling statement Saturday afternoon, saying that while it disagrees with the 162-game ban, it also, “respect (s) the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision.”

        Seems to me there’s more going on here than we’re aware of.

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      • Kazzy, here’s my unprovable (but not conspiracy!) theory: MLB has him dead to rights on the obstruction charges and the parties via the arbitrator agreed to drop them – because that’s a criminal offense – in exchange for a reduction in the number of games.

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      • And I think the union sold him out because they don’t want any more tugging at loose threads than is necessary. He’s had a testy relationship with them since they vetoed the Red Sox deal (he had agreed to restructure the contract to take less money to facilitate the deal and the union said no).

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  9. Let me be clear.. I think he used everything they said he used and probablg more. I don’t know enough to comment on the obstruction charges. But the man has no friends… Some of that his own doing… And I think that played a factor in the handling and punishment. If Jeter did everything ARod did, I think it gets handled very differently.

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    • If Jeter did everything ARod did, I think it gets handled very differently.

      I disagree. If he did everything ARod did, he’d get the exact same treatment. Assuming there’s a basis in the accusations against ARod, of course. Which I have no reason to *reject* except for ARod’s personal claims of innocence and persecution and various conspiracy theories. :)

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      • everything legitimately proven against (x)

        Well, since the arbitration process is binding and unappealable it constitutes the highest level of proof we’re gonna get. And it’s the highest level of legitimacy we’re going to get, too.

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      • Jeter who’s been given five (five!) Gold Gloves for being well below average at shortstop? If he were found to be using PED’s, they’d be declared mandatory, and ARod would be suspended for the years he didn’t use then.

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      • If Jeter admitted using roids back in his twenties, then was suspicioned of using them in his thirties, and evidence came out that he in fact was using them in his thirties, and he attempted (according to the MLB) to purchase the evidence linking him to the use of roids, and then killed the messenger regarding the evidence linking him to roids when everyone else similarly accused accepted the accusation (undermining the killed the messenger argument), then yes, I think he’d be treated the same way.

        The fact that Jeter gets accolades is because he doesn’t in fact do all those things. Or at least to the best of our knowledge. :)

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      • That doesn’t particularly answer the question of whether they only considered legitimate proof, though. Which is what this comes back to for me: ARod’s previous admission, fruit from a poisonous tree* (the outrageous outing) and therefore illegitimate (in my view), playing an undue role here.

        * – Yes, I’m aware these are not constitutional issues. But I think it is worthwhile to look at it in a similar light. He wouldn’t have confessed had he not been outed. He shouldn’t have been outed the way he was.

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      • That doesn’t particularly answer the question of whether they only considered legitimate proof, though.

        Can you define what constitutes “legitimate proof”, tho? Surely there’s a standard above even that accepted in a criminal trial, yes? Is you’re standard that high?

        Even the union doesn’t want to pursue the ruling. If it was a clear-cut violation of the drug-policy rules outlined in the CBA, then it seems to me the union would STRENUOUSLY object to the decision. But they didn’t.

        That’s why I think there’s more to it than we know, but not necessarily along the conspiracy theory lines all you normally rational people seem so suddenly accepting of.

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      • Legitimate proof excludes the previous outing of him and his confession in response to said outing. It includes the evidence against him in this trial.

        (To piggyback Kazzy’s counterfactual, had Jeter’s test come up positive, it’s we don’t know that he was outed. Had he been outed, the storyline at the time might more likely have been the nature of the outing rather than the allegation that was outed. But perhaps since nobody likes ARod, nobody cares how he was outed and the story was about his sin.)

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      • Let’s stay with that. You’re saying that the fact that people don’t like ARod is the reason the punishment was so extreme. In order to get that hypothesis to stick, you have to say that the MLB, the Yankees and the union all dislike ARod so much that the normal process determining punishments was corrupted. That includes the union lawyers who advocated for him in the arbitration process. Even those guys hate him, or are water carriers.

        You also have to assume that evidence of all this collusion won’t be released to the general public via reports from, for example, union lawyers who actually think the CBA is the thing worth defending, rather than corrupting the CBA to get the goat no one likes.

        You’d also have to assume that the accusations against ARod that justified the initial suspension of 211 games (that is, that he was implicated in PED use as well as obstructing the investigation into Biogenesis) are completely fabricated but that no individuals involved in that investigation would publicly complain (via anonymous sourcing!) that the obstruction charges were in fact completely fabricated. (Everyone’s in on it!)

        OR, you could just say that everyone was out to get him.

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      • You’re saying everything that would have to be true for a suspension (or some significant punishment) to take place. What we’re talking about (I think) is the extent of the punishment. We can accept that there is legitimate evidence against him warranting a punishment while being skeptical that anybody at all would have been subject to the same punishment (or close to it) as he was and that it all has nothing at all to do with the fact that he is one of the most unpopular players in MLB and that he is a confessed known offender.

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      • Yes, exactly Will. I’m saying you guys have no evidence that the punishment was more than deserved except a theory that includes the MLB, the entirety of the Players Union, and the Yankees all acting in consort.

        That strikes me as incredibly implausible.

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      • Not everyone would have to act in concert. Most would merely need to decide that ARod is not worth going to bat for. (No pun intended.) And the skepticism is or can be that, were this a player that were not so reviled, had not previously confessed, and so on, he might have been worth going to bat for. (No pun intended.)

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      • If I can interject, I’ve yet to understand what aspect of MLB’s purchasing the evidence against A-Rod should render it inadmissible or even legally improper. Yes, it’s kind of shady, but (a) this is an arbitration, so the rules of evidence are even more lenient than they’d be in a civil court (which in turn are different from the rules applicable in a criminal court), (b) they’re business records, so as long as they’re authenticated (and it seems like they were), they’d be totally admissible in civil court; and (c) if the question is the credibility of the testimony supporting those records because that testimony was essentially paid for, well, the arbitrator is perfectly capable of weighing that credibility. I’m having a hard time seeing where what MLB did here should be treated any differently from an attorney, say, hiriing a PI to obtain evidence. Yes, it’s a little bit seedier in terms of the impression it leaves, but impressions aren’t rules, and I’ve yet to see anything to indicate what rule, exactly, MLB is alleged to have broken in obtaining the evidence against A-Rod.

        Admittedly, though, I’ve not followed the story much more than casually, so maybe I’m missing something about the underlying facts.

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      • Given what we know, I think ARod likely deserves to be punished but not for 162 games.

        I don’t think the parties had to act in concert. The Commish wanted to nail ARod to secure his legacy. The Yanks had no reason to fight it — and possibly contributed to it — for financial reasons. The players union might have said, “162 games… 150 games… 100 games… this isn’t worth our fight. Not for this bum.”

        You know what would clear this up? MLB making their case publicly. Maybe they are barred from doing so, but ARod seems to want the information to come out. If both parties agree, make it known and let the public decide for themselves. It won’t be worth anything, but if you are battling for public perception (which both are), might as well make your case.

        The confidentiality around suspensions has been a point of contention. There was a player a few years back who failed a test for something mild but because it felt under the drug testing, the results were kept secret and he looked like every other steroid user. He wanted them to release the results so he could say, “I took an OTC medicine that had a banned substance in it I didn’t know. I wasn’t taking hard ‘roids.” But MLB wouldn’t allow that.

        Transparency is a good thing, Bud.

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      • I mean, really, the union is the only group here that at least theoretically has an interest in ARod as something other than a villain. It doesn’t strike me as conspiratorial for them to look at the situation and say “Let’s save our bullets for a battle that won’t have us defending such an unsympathetic figure.”

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      • Mark, that’s not what I am arguing to be discounted. I am arguing that the previous infraction should not be a consideration because the “evidence” was illegitimately obtained (to say the least) and the confession came from that evidence.

        If it is the case that the previous allegations had nothing to do with the sentence (and that ARod’s generally poor standing also had nothing to do with it) then I have no problem with it.

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      • It doesn’t strike me as conspiratorial for them to look at the situation and say “Let’s save our bullets for a battle that won’t have us defending such an unsympathetic figure.”

        But – and this is my point – you have no evidence that they’ve done so.

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      • Do we have hard evidence? No. But I would say that if you have an intimate understanding of ARod’s relationship with the union over the past decade or so, there is enough reason to suspect that the latter would not be particularly inclined to lay it all on the line for him.

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      • What is the evidenciary threshold required to have a suspicion? Given that everybody knows he’s guilty and that nobody likes him, it may not have even needed to be really discussed whether or not they should use their capital to defend him where there are causes involving people who may not have done it or are not so reviled.

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      • Kazzy, you can hang your hat on that – and I’m really not objecting to you’re doing so – but I won’t. I’m just saying that the whole scenario is really – like REALLY – implausible.

        It means everyone involved is just like Christie except in one important respect: they’re better at covering their tracks.

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      • But not really. The Comish has broad discretion. He doesn’t have to cover tracks because if anyone says, “Why did ARod get 211 games?” all he has to say is, “That seemed like the right thing to do.” The Yanks haven’t had to cover their tracks (at least insofar as they haven’t defend ARod) because they have no obligation too and forty million reasons not to. So really you’re just looking at the union leadership which can point to the CBA.

        Each group has an easy out. Nothing duplicitous is required. I’m not so much calling conspiracy as I’m saying everyone took an easy way out and all their easy ways screwed ARod.

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      • What is the evidenciary threshold required to have a suspicion?

        As far as I recall, it was zero, given his apologies and promises after admitting steroid use while with the Rangers. It was only the emergence of the Biogenesis data that he was even implicated. Publicly, that is.

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      • Well, a conspiracy involves multiple parties in cahoots, yes? I don’t think the Yanks or Comish or Union was in conversation with one another. They each had their own motivation to act as they did. It was a perfect storm to doom ARod.

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      • We also, technically, have zero evidence of his guilt. Because none of it was released. We are accepting the arbiter’s decision but it remains unsubstantiated to the public.

        This stuff isn’t determined by the public. As Shilling pointed out way upthread.

        Why think the process is corrupted?

        I mean, you’ve gone over that already, but …

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      • And here’s the thing… I think Selig did this to secure his legacy. “Don’t say I was soft on PEDs… I took down ARod.” But look what he caused? It’s January, the NFL playoffs are on, and people here are talking baseball… but no one has a nice thing to say about the sport or the commish. No one is talking about trades or signings. No one is talking about curveballs or defensive shifts. We’re talking about arbiters and what constitutes a conspiracy and the rules of evidence. This will fade, yes, but I don’t think this is going to be the public relations boon that Selig hoped for.

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      • Well, a conspiracy involves multiple parties in cahoots, yes?

        An actual conspiracy does. But a conspiracy theory doesn’t. Those are defined by attributing sinister motives to powerful people which can’t be substantiated or refuted.

        The bare possibility that people might be acting according to the hypothesis doesn’t constitute evidence that they in fact are.

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      • I understand the public opinion doesn’t, ultimately, matter. At least not insofar as what happens to ARod’s suspension. But the structure is such that MLB and the MLBPA are asking us to trust the arbitration process and accept its ruling sans evidence. It doesn’t seem as if the process has engendered that sort of trust. That strikes me as a problem for them. A process is only as legitimate as the extent to which people have faith and trust in it. Even if people think that ARod got what he deserved, I don’t know many people who are thinking, “That is exactly how the process should have played out.”

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      • Given the two competing theories…

        A: There exists evidence such that ARod deserved a 162 game + playoffs suspension
        B: Decisions were made by various parties to serve self-interests

        I have to go with B. Because the nature of the 162 game suspension defies everything we previously knew about this process. No where was it ever said that 162+playoffs was a possible suspension for PED violations. So when that happens, it seems natural to wonder what’s up with that.

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      • It doesn’t seem as if the process has engendered that sort of trust.

        Kazzy, you’re being circular here, if you don’t mind my saying so. The reason you don’t trust the process is because you think the union already had it out for ARod.

        If you actually did trust people to determine outcomes, then the fact that the union – which is tasked with protecting players interests according to the provisions outlined in the CBA and not tasked with taking down ARod – tacitly agreed with the punishment would count as evidence that it was justified. Im not saying that blind trust is justified here. But blind distrust until proven otherwise seems even more pernicious. I mean, the union represents the players and union lawyers are tasked with defending them. There is a presumption there which only evidence can overcome.

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      • As I understand it, the union has done everything it is charged with doing. I’m referring moreso to the public statements they are making, which is hanging ARod out to dry but which are technically perfectly in line with what they ought to say.

        So, yea, maybe all is on the up and up and I should take everything at face value.

        Given the nature of this case, I think it behooved Selig and MLB to do everything above board. Leave as little room for lose threads as possible. They didn’t do that. I’ve never liked or trusted Selig so I’m not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. I would have gained some respect for him if he showed up to the hearings — even if that wasn’t standard procedure — because it would have showed he wasn’t trying to hide anything and was covering every base.

        I said at the onset that I’m being a bit conspiracy-theory-y and I am. I’m not alleging a real conspiracy; I just think there is more going on than we know. I think it is more likely in 20 years that we look back and say, “ARod got a raw deal,” than we are to say, “That is exactly how that should have gone.” Again, I think ARod took banned substances while they were banned. I think he beat the system. I think the league pursued him more aggressively than it would have pursued other folks. I think Selig took an unconventional route to suspending him because it couldn’t get him via the conventional methods. I don’t think ARod is innocent. But I don’t think it is a coincidence that the first time Selig invoked the powers he invoked with regards to PEDs happened to be with a guy he has had a remarkably testy relationship with for a long time.

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      • no hard feelings at all on this end and, I presume, on all others :-))

        Not me. This is a fight to the death, even tho I respect you. So there’s something I feel compelled to tell you: I am not left handed.

        And don’t even think about using Bonetti’s defense against me.

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  10. as I understand, ARods attempt was for the purpose of destroying the evidence, and specifically for the at least partial purpose of interfering with a federal investigation. MLB was to my knowledge simply seeking to obtain the evidence in order to use it; to the extent the Feds seek that evidence and MLB doesn’t provide it, then maybe they could be committing a crime (I don’t know enough to say for certain) but that would not have anything to do with the admissibility of that evidence in the arbitration or, for that matter, in civil court. The “victim” of any such hypothetical crime would be the Feds, not ARod. The “victim” of ARods hypothetical crime would also have been the Feds, but he would also have been subject to a spoliation claim in the arbitration by MLB (essentially, if MLB could show that he destroyed evidence, they’re entitled to an inference that the evidence would have supported their case), and I would wager that MLB also has a strong argument that the spoliation, whether or not it was criminal, is a separate offense under the league’s PED policy.

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    • Nice comment Mark. I don’t know if it helps or hurts my argument, but there’s some damn fine reasoning in there, and that’s always valued.

      Actually, I tend to agree with what you’re saying here, but my agreement is indirect, coming from the limited evidence we have. I don’t think MLB’s accusation that ARod obstructed an investigation was made out of whole cloth. That just seems highly implausible. So it seems to me that *that* accusation is what sent the punishment parameters way outside the norm, something that the union appears to be pretty OK with.

      Why?

      The idea that it’s because the union has it in for ARod just makes no sense to me. Well, it does, if I’m honest, but in the same way circles makes sense to me.

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      • To be clear – I’m fully in agreement with you. I’m just explaining why there would be a major distinction between MLB’s purchase of evidence to use it in the arbitration and ARods alleged purchase of evidence to prevent its use. The former is perhaps shady, but in-bounds; the latter is a definite no-no.

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      • How would they prove ARod’s intent? Especially given that he never actually secured the documents?

        It would seem that an obstruction charge based on something he tried to do and then what he would have done with it had his attempts been successful seems like a difficult case to make.

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      • Oh… I’m not arguing with Mark. I’m asking how — practically — the case would be built against ARod. It is not the act of buying documents that is illegal, but the act of buying documents with intent of destroying them or otherwise preventing access to them. Given that he never actually came to possess the documents, it would seem nearly impossible to convict him of obstruction. Unless (as usual), I’m missing something major.

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      • If I’m understanding Mark correctly (and I may not be), it has to do with what you intend to do with the documents once they’re purchased. Mark mentions that if the Feds sought the documents from MLB and were rebuffed, that might be a crime. So it would seem to be what is done with the documents that constitutes the crime, not the possession. So ARod would have to A) possess the documents and B) make them inaccessible to be guilty of obstruction. While it is logical to assume that he only would have purchased them with the intention of limiting their access, I don’t know that that assumption is enough to justify charging him. And given that he never even purchased them, unless he left hard evidence to his plans (e.g., a voicemail in which he outlined his plan to buy the documents and light them on fire), I struggle to see how charges could have stuck.

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      • Kazzy, it seems to me a pertinent question here is whether they were buying access to the documents (a copy, presumably verified or verifiable) or the sole existing copy of documentation.

        Which is to say if the MLB went to this place and said “We would like these records, feel free to keep your own copy” that would be fine. I’d be much more uncomfortable if they said “We would like these records, and I don’t want you to have a copy of them anymore.”

        I would guess that ARod was proposing the latter. If the MLB was, too, I do think that’s a problem as if there had been exculpatory or clouding evidence, they would then have been able to flush it.

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      • Importantly, what baseball was accusing him of was not criminal obstruction of justice – as indicated above, it has no standing to make a charge like that. Instead, it’s making a charge that the obstruction is a violation of the PED policy (and I think they’ve got a good argument that obstruction is indeed a violation).

        As for intent, that’s something that needs to be proven in quite a variety of cases, so it’s something that absolutely an be proven. A lot of times, intent can be inferred by the circumstances. So, if a defendant is looking to buy up the only copies of evidence – and takes actual steps to do so, even if the attempt ultimately fails – it can be inferred that the intent of those steps was to obstruct the investigation, particularly if you can prove that the defendant was well aware of the investigation (easy enough to do in this case). Add to that the lower evidentiary standards in arbitration, and MLB is on reasonably solid ground here.

        Additionally, it’s really hard for MLB to obstruct its own investigation.

        Now, if it can be shown that MLB bought up the only copies of various pieces of evidence and then withheld exonerating pieces of evidence, then they’d almost certainly be guilty of a violation of the CBA.

        But the fact that the MLBPA isn’t getting ready to file a grievance here is indicative that they don’t think there’s any exonerating evidence that was withheld. And, regardless of what the MLBPA thinks of ARod, they have a strong incentive to file a grievance on his behalf if they think exonerating evidence is being withheld, as that would be an absolutely horrible precedent for them to allow MLB to set.

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  11. That is hugely helpful. Thanks. For some reason, when the obstruction charges were brought up, I assumed that was a legal case, not part of MLB’s case. That certainly changes things.

    You mention that intent can be inferred. What is the standard of proof used in such matters? I mean, I assume in a criminal trial, the prosecution would say something to the effect of: “Mr. Rodriguez attempted to purchased the Biogenesis reasons. We infer his intent was to prevent authorities from gaining access to them and, as such, feel he is guilty of obstruction.” The jury would then be charged with determining not whether or not he attempted to purchase the documents, but whether it is prudent to infer his intent was to prevent access to them. And while that is certainly a logical — probably the most logical — conclusion, is that enough for the jury to convict?

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    • The short answer is yes. Especially in a civil context, where preponderance of the evidence is usually the governing standard of proof, though it’s possible the CBA calls for a different standard. As I recall, intent can be proven indirectly through showing things like motive or prior acts consistent with the assumed intent. I need to refresh my memory a bit on this, but in a civil context at least, I don’t think it’s too much of an oversimplification to say that if a fact finder thinks it more likely than not that the defendant had the requisite intent based on the relevant circumstantial evidence, then intent is proven. Otherwise, in the vast majority of cases (especially fraud cases) where intent is an element of the claim, a defendant could evade liability by just saying “I didn’t mean to do it, and you can’t prove otherwise because you’re not in my head.”

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      • Only semi-related, but I actually think we should give suspects a pass on obstructing the investigation into their own crimes. However, they could only claim immunity on obstruction charges by conceding the larger charges. So it is a catch-22. But I don’t think a guy who stabs someone to death and then washes off the knife is guilty of evidence tampering. He’s guilty of murder but, I mean, common sense says wash the knife off!

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    • In [the suit], Rodriguez alleges the players’ union breached its “duty of fair representation” and charges MLB and the MLBPA with imposing a suspension without just cause.

      “It is unfortunate that Alex Rodriguez has chosen to sue the Players Association,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement.

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      • Hee hee. I get to BRAG baby!

        And that’s why ARod’s threats [to sue] are empty. If the phrasing fits, you must submit!

        OK. I’m teasing a bit. I really didn’t think he’d slam it into over-drive the first business day after the decision was handed down and it makes me a bit giddy to see his megalomania on display in such acute form.

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      • Did you see that the judge decided to unseal all the records? After Selig and Manfred shot their mouths off on 60 Minutes last night, he reasons, there’s no confidentiality left. Another prediction: at the end of this everyone involved will look like complete sleazebags.

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      • Indeed, . The arbiter’s logic appears to be that ARod used three different drugs, so 3*50, plus a few more because he did it so long and the obstruction. That’s some screwy logic. He also said it didn’t matter that ARod passed 12 tests given during the time in question.

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      • 3 * 50 plus one day for each test he passed in some undefined but obviously punishable way,

        I actually think the idea that ARod’s suspension was reduced is dumb. 211 wasn’t the result of some complicated formula: it was “through the end of the 2014 season”, and that’s the same suspension he got.

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      • Did you see that the judge decided to unseal all the records? After Selig and Manfred shot their mouths off on 60 Minutes last night, he reasons, there’s no confidentiality left.

        Well, I disagree that the 60 minutes interviews had anything to do with it. First, it takes quite a bit of time for lawyers to think about and write up this type of thing. Second, I think he was gonna challenge the ruling no matter what was handed down. He consistently denied or refused to answer questions about PEDs during this entire process, and I wonder to what extent a public admission on his part prior to the abitration process would have reduced the decision to 50 games (like the other Biogenesis participants) plus some unknown number tacked on for obstruction. Seems to me the union lawyers would have a legitimate counter argument there for a significant reduction in suspension – his claim that union lawyers failed to fairly represent him would actually have merit at that point – but it would require to accept the 50 game baseline that the others already agreed to.

        Given all that, especially ARod’s newfound insistence that the Biogenesis data is either inadmissabIe or a pure fabrication, suggests to me that he had every intention of suing in federal court all along.

        That’s all admittedly circumstantial, of course.

        Another prediction: at the end of this everyone involved will look like complete sleazebags.

        Yeah, undoubtedly. I still find the logic underlying the specific game totals a but odd, and whether or not those specific numbers can be justified by something other than “the commissioners wide ranging powers” and “arbitrators compromise given evidence and argument” will probably never be settled in any comprehensive or clear way. I’m not sure that means anything one way or the other all on its own, tho, since agreements like these are made routinely between contesting parties (and in this case the ruling seems consistent with the process). At this point, ARod just wants to keep playing, juiced or not, and if that means suing MLB, the MLBPA, Bud Selig personally, the Yankees doctor personally, and whoever else, he will.

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      • The judge mentioned the interviews and the high profile nature in deciding to release the records. I doubt the interviews happened Saturday or Sunday. They probably happened prior — with insiders knowing — and were only aired after the decision was rendered.

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      • Sure. My view is that ARod’s refusal to concede that the Biogenesis evidence was compelling implies that he was gonna file a suit in any event. He could have nipped this whole process in the bud by admitting what all the other implicated ball players did: that they were guilty of violating the CBA provisions regarding PEDs.

        Instead, he not only didn’t concede the validity of the evidence against him when it was made public, he denied it was accurate or reliable. Further, he actively obstructed the MLB investigation (according to MLB and the arbitrator) by trying to purchase those Biogenesis documents, documents upon which the specific suspensions were justified.

        He’s denied it all along. Why would he not continue to deny it? So, the suit strikes me as inevitable even if the suspension had only been 50 games.

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      • If the suspension was significantly shortened, he could have said, “While I disagree with the findings of the arbiter, at this point I feel it best to focus on getting myself ready to help the Yankees as best I can to win a WS blah blah blah…”

        I may be underestimating how important it was to him to maintain a clean image. If that is his end goal… well, the ship has already sailed on him being liked. Even if he has become sympathetic to some in all this, a full reversal of all suspensions (a la Braun) would not have engendered him that sort of love in the immediate aftermath.

        I’m not sure what his end goal is. Scorched earth? It might be.

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      • Kazzy,

        Yeah. Personally, it seems to me that the suspension would only have been shortened if he’d accepted without obstructing the 50 game ban. And you’re right about the ship having sailed, both wrt his public image but also the likelihood of getting back into baseball. Personally, I don’t see how a judge has the authority to impose an injunction (or whatever the word would be) on the MLB enforcing a suspension which both the MLB and the Union believe satisfies the CBAs procedural requirements. Further, by suing both he’s lost the Union as an ally – politically as well as legally – in making his case.

        It’s ARod against the world!

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  12. Well, ARod will be back next year. Unless the Yankees cut bait (at the cost of $61M) and no one signs him. Which might well happen. It will be interesting to say. But in terms of this year, I’d be surprised. He’s basically firing every bullet he has. His argument seems to be that everyone was derelict in their duty. And while I contended (and still contend) that everyone might not have done their best/fairest, I don’t know that anything anyone did qualifies as derelict.

    I know the suspension was hugely positive for the Yanks from a tax consideration. Wiping him off the books for the year saves them $27M in salary plus an estimated $12M in taxes AND it resets their luxury tax (the tax escalates if you are over it for consecutive years so getting under it, even if just for one year, has huge long term implications for them). But that is if he misses all 162 games. I don’t know how it works if he misses only part of the season. I don’t know if they pro-rate it or if it is all or nothing… even one inning played means the entirety of his salary counts against the tax (even if they don’t have to actually pay him). If it is the latter, well, he could be a really spiteful dick and be trying to get on the field for that inning and give the Yanks 40M middle fingers. An injunction (however unlikely) might allow that.

    It is really hard to understand his pysche at this point… as it sorta always has been. If he’s trying to clear his name, it is an exercise in futility. If he is trying to fuck the Yankees, well, ARod vs Yanks is kind of fun to watch from afar. If he is trying to get his money… I struggle to see how burning every bridge imaginable over $27M when that represents approximately 5% of your career earnings (before accounting for endorsements) is worth it.

    I think we’ve officially entered the TMZ zone: anything is possible, none of it makes sense, and little of it actually matters.

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      • Do you think he might just feel pot committed at this point? I mean, if he turns around and accepts the suspension, everyone is gonna ask, “Why were you so steadfast 2 months ago and now you’re going quietly into the night?” In for a dime, in for a dollar? Does he believe his own lies? ARod is a pretty fascinating guy on a number of levels. He’s a real tough nut to crack.

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      • I’d agree with that. I just re-read (because it’s so damn fascinating!) his statement in advance of the suit, where he claims the evidence presented against him was illegally obtained (Mark talked about that), that the Biogenesis guy was a known “drug peddler” to kids; that the evidence was totally fabricated; that his right to a jury trial were infringed… It’s f***cking crazy. That he’s also suing the Union is just the irrational icing on the delusional cake, from my pov.

        So … yeah, he probably felt committed to go all-in. Persecution complex? Delusions of grandeur? Sociopathicmegalomaniacalnarcissism? There’s got to be handy word to capture this type of thing. I’m sure we could come up with one.

        I seem to recall that the union lawyers advised him at the time to just take the 50 games and get past it. For some reason – a reason known only to ARod and FSM – he couldn’t bring himself to admit his own actions and accept even those relatively tame consequences. I think he was all in from the beginning.

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      • Another thing to consider: challenging the legitimacy of the Biogenesis evidence would likely compel either the MLB or even the Union to put provide testimony to the effect the they did in fact receive PEDs from whatshisname, which would completely undermine his case.

        I mean, it’s – he’s – just insane.

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