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Let’s make sure our attacks on Sammy Sosa make sense

Jan 10, 2011, 10:01 AM EDT

sosa2

Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times is getting the jump on the 2013 Hall of Fame insanity, and is coming out strongly opposed to Sammy Sosa’s candidacy:

What’s that? You’d like to see solid evidence of past drug use on Sosa’s part? Well, there is the New York Times report that he tested positive for PEDs in 2003. And you might recall the way he conveniently forgot how to speak English during a 2005 congressional hearing about steroids in Major League Baseball. Through an interpreter, he said he never had used “illegal performance-enhancing drugs.’’

I’m kind of exhausted over all of the Hall of Fame stuff from the past few weeks so I’ll let most of this pass, but I really do get annoyed at the criticism of Sosa for using an interpreter and speaking his native language at the 2005 hearings.

I would never, ever, ever let a client of mine testify under oath, speak to law enforcement or to speak in any other context where legal jeopardy might attach in anything other than his native language.  It’s just way too dangerous. As we’ve seen with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the real point of the various steroids hearings over the years was to create perjury traps. Perjury charges often turn on nuance, tense and the smallest interpretation of what the speaker is saying.  One tiny misstatement and you could be facing jail time. Why risk it?

Go after Sosa as a PED user if you believe that to be critical.  Heck, go after his merits as a ballplayer, which aren’t nearly as strong as a lot of people think even if you ignore the PEDs.  But really, don’t go after the guy for speaking his native language when he was subpoenaed to Congress. You’d do the same damn thing in his shoes. And if you say otherwise, you’re either lying or you’re unduly comfortable with taking risks with your freedom.

  1. BC - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    I know what we should do. We need to pick a random MLB player to attack about PED’s. Doesn’t matter who they are. Just pick a guy and kind of “adopt” him as a punching bag.
    How about…. Ray Lankford. (not that I hate him, just the first random guy to come to mind)

    • sdelmonte - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:19 AM

      Joe Schlabotnick!

      • jkcalhoun - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        Didn’t even show up to his own testimonial dinner. If he had had any playing ability or had made any contributions to his team, that alone would suffice for nullification. Disqualified.

    • Detroit Michael - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:23 AM

      Moonlight Graham!

    • BC - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:30 AM

      How about Rich Gedman?

    • Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:37 AM

      Curtis Leskanic

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      Too late, they already did that with Bagwell.

      • billtpa - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        winner!

    • Chipmaker - Jan 10, 2011 at 11:19 AM

      How about Ken Griffey Jr?

      Fits the profile — peak power seasons in 1997-98, spent the second half of his career demonstrating how fragile and injury-prone his body had become.

      Add some drivel about “The Kid” and his wearing cap backwards and “sweetest swing” and “always smiling” and, well, since those are the talking points the media and many fans want to read, they’ll just gloss over any steroids allegations.

      I neither know nor care if Griffey used any magic potions, but the way he’s treated like purest platinum despite how easily his career can fit the “eeeevil steroid abuser” profile is inexplicable.

      • BC - Jan 10, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        Actually Griffey turned into a total jerk when he went to Cincinnati. Either that or he just showed his true colors.

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 10, 2011 at 12:18 PM

      As a lifelong Cardinals fan, Ray has already spent too many years being a punching bag. There irrational hatred of him by a large cadre of Cardinals fans was absolutely baffling. It was too the point where Fox Sports Midwest celebrated the Woody Williams trade, not for getting Williams mind you, but that Lankford was gone. He seemed like a nice enough guy and was a hell of a ball player, so I don’t understand it at all.

      Then, he returned to the Cardinals in 2004. Apparently his homecoming was…uh…well celebrated because he was hit with two different paternity suits that year.

  2. dondbaseball - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    Didn’t Sosa also cork his bat? And talk about drastic physique changes during a career. Something always tells me where there’s smoke, there’s fire…

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:32 AM

      We don’t need to read tea leaves with Sosa. He tested positive in 2003:

      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090616&content_id=5355568&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

      • adambuckled - Jan 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        Nope, all we need is an illegally obtained, vaguely sourced, supposedly anonymous, impossible to verify test with no second-sample corroboration. So glad we’ve got a lawyer on the case.

  3. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    It’s just way too dangerous. As we’ve seen with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the real point of the various steroids hearings over the years was to create perjury traps. Perjury charges often turn on nuance, tense and the smallest interpretation of what the speaker is saying. One tiny misstatement and you could be facing jail time. Why risk it?

    To put it another way, aren’t the Feds having a hard time charging Bonds because he said he never knowingly took steroids? So it isn’t enough to say he was taking them, but they have to prove he knew what they were. And good luck with that considering Greg Anderson refuses to testify.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:36 AM

      Let us remember how fine a line Sosa had to walk to avoid perjury:

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2009/12/28/sammy-sosa-was-crazy-like-a-fox/

      Even if he was trying to play PR games, he was probably the most truthful one there. If he tried to say what he said in English he may have screwed it up and actually told a real lie.

      And of course, if Congress gave a shit about things other than PR, they would have had someone following up on Sosa’s cute testimony and nailed him down. They didn’t.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:41 AM

        If he tried to say what he said in English he may have screwed it up and actually told a real lie.

        You may give him too much credit. I’m definitely agreeing with you though. I took 5+ years of Italian, and could still hold a good conversation about most things. However, if I were dragged in front of their gov’t body, I wouldn’t even say buon giorno.

    • clydeserra - Jan 10, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      Kinda. The Greg Anderson angle is very important, but questions asked by the AUSA at the grand jury were so hopelessly muddled, compound and vague, that a conviction for perjury is going to be a tough row to hoe.

  4. umrguy42 - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    “Perjury charges often turn on nuance, tense and the smallest interpretation of what the speaker is saying. One tiny misstatement and you could be facing jail time. Why risk it?”

    Besides, if there’s an interpreter involved, you can blame the interpreter for screwing up the translation!

    • Roger Moore - Jan 10, 2011 at 11:14 AM

      I’m not sure if you can blame the translator. They certainly have video and transcripts of his Spanish testimony, which they can get an independent translator to translate for them. If he said something in Spanish that’s perjury beyond a reasonable doubt, any reasonable translator will translate it in a way that shows it’s perjury. If he didn’t say something that’s perjury beyond a reasonable doubt, it really is the translator’s fault.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    How sad it will be for me in 30 or 40 years when I take my grandkids to the Hall Of Fame and the baseball I grew up with isn’t there! What would be the point?

    • mcsnide - Jan 10, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      You’re on to something. The HOF is basically making itself irrelevant. Whitewashing of the sport’s past is absurd. We now have a HOF where the all-time hits leader and all-time HR leader are on the outside looking in. Whatever your take on Bonds and Rose, that’s crazy. It’s time to re-evaluate whether there’s even a point in having a Hall if people are going to be excluded for their moral failures.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 10, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        Frankly, the mid 90′s through early 00′s were a much more interesting time than the 80′s for MLB. Maybe in spite of steroids, maybe because of them. Either way, it is a big chunk of MLB history that can’t be simply ignored away.

        I keep seeing people post things like “It isn’t the hall of Very Good.” FWIW, it isn’t the hall of Morally Upstanding, or even the Hall of Great. I can’t think of anyone more FAMOUS (i.e., significant to the sport as a whole) in baseball over the last decade than Bonds or Clemens, or who had a greater impact on the sport. Maybe Jeter, but I suppose he is one Perlman article away from having his induction blocked as well.

  6. Jonny 5 - Jan 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Why? The votes many place for the HOF don’t make sense. Why would we expect reasoning behind the votes to make sense?

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