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Time to Strip the Titles from Baseball’s Cheaters

You have to admire the “take no prisoners” approach of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in handing out penalties in the great sign-stealing scandal. At this point two well-liked and well-regarded managers have been forced to resign and have rightly had their legacies tarnished forever. Presumably Carlos Beltran may soon be on the chopping block as well. However…

Is it really enough? Arguably the Astros cheated their way past the Yankees to the 2017 World Series in that year’s ALCS, winning all four games at home, where the nefarious behavior occurred. Then they cheated their way past the Dodgers to win the World Series.

So…why not do what the NCAA does in the case of serious recruiting or other serious rules violations? Strip the teams of their titles. Declare the Dodgers the 2017 World Champions and the Yankees the American League Champions. And, once the investigation of the 2018 Red Sox is complete, strip the Sox of their championship and award that to the Dodgers as well. (And no I am not a Dodger fan; far from it).

Then, fifty years from now, the sign-stealing scandals would be remembered as they should be: like the 1919 Black Sox scandal almost exactly a century earlier.

That strikes me as just desserts for the utter disregard for the integrity and image of the game shown by those involved – all multimillionaires for whom, as Lombardi once said, winning wasn’t everything; it was the only thing.

Let’s let the nice guys finish first for a change.

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Who Do You Trust?

Following last night’s Iranian missile strike on U.S. military bases in Irag, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “All is well.”

Meanwhile in the holy city of Qom, Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “The U.S. has caused wars, division, sedition, destruction, and the demolition of infrastructures in this region. They were slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough. The corruptive presence of the U.S. in the West Asian region must be stopped.”

Who’s correct?

Who do you trust?

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A “Make-Good” Gone Mad

Rumors of War by Kehinde Wiley

So after all the controversy about statues of Confederate heroes in the South, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond decided it had the answer. The museum purchased a 27-foot high, 60,000 pound bronze and stone statue by Barack Obama portraitist Kehinde Wiley depicting a young black man with dreadlocks wearing Nike sneakers on the back of an enormous horse, then permanently installed it at its entrance. “It’s beautiful and intimidating,” said a Washington Post reporter who attended the installation.

Great. Let’s counterbalance all the memorials to Confederate heroes (Virginia has the most of any state) that so many black people find intimidating/offensive with something that will cause many southern white folks to be even more wary of young black men than they already are to begin with. Not to mention the complete and utter lack of any actual historical significance to the scene whatsoever.

Let’s make amends as appropriate for excessive glorification of the rebellion in the states that were part of the Confederacy. But not by intimidating and alienating the very people who need to be convinced with a truly over-the-top public display such as “Rumors of War.”

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A Deal to End All Deals

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

LITERALLY. It’s a deal that will almost certainly go down in baseball history as one of the dumbest of all time. Think Albert Puljols, Jason Haywood, and yes, Alex Rodriguez, the last player to get a mega-deal from the Yankees. Now the Bronx Bombers will fork over $324 Million over NINE years to a 29-year-old pitcher who has had two outstanding seasons back-to-back with those cheatin’ Houston Astros after five years of diminishing production for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Gerrit Cole will be 38 in 2028 – the final year of the deal (!). He is unlikely to be averaging 97 MPH on his fastball at that point. Can he learn to pitch rather than throw by then, like Greg Maddux and C.C. Sabathia did in their latter years? Possibly. But was either of those two worth the equivalent of $36M a year during their last six seasons, when each posted a WAR of 3 or above only once?

Speaking of WAR, Cole did not finish in the Top 10 in that much-ballyhooed category in either of the past two seasons, even though four of the Top 10 finishers were pitchers in both 2019 and 2018. The list includes teammate Justin Verlander, as well as Max Scherzer of the Nationals and even Yankee-for-a-season Lance Lynn. Jacob deGrom of the Mets was the only pitcher to accomplish that feat in both seasons, making his measly $137M deal over five years look like the steal of the decade.

But then again, the Yankees didn’t pull out the stops to get Cole over a bunch of subjective data points. They signed him to finally lock down a World Series victory after only their second full decade without one in almost 100 years. Cole will pitch for an exciting young team that came close the past two seasons and was quite capable of eventually doing it without him. Their odds have certainly improved. But their are no guarantees in baseball. Except for Cole’s $324M, of course. That’s guaranteed.

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