Monday, March 17, 2014


"In this country the people have rights but the person has none."-- Henry James

"In the King's courtroom, rules are invented on the spot; sentences are handed down first, verdicts afterward- a sleight-of-hand assuredly practiced in Charles Dodgson's time, as it is now." -- Joyce Carole Oates on Alice in Wonderland

You don't have to believe in Alex Rodriguez's innocence to deplore his year-long suspension from baseball.  You don't have to sympathize with his plight to be appalled by the cynical, overzealous investigation the Commissioner's Office pursued to nail him.  And you don't have to be a civil libertarian either to bridle at the Kafkaesque arbitration proceeding through which baseball sought to cloak an arbitrary and draconian sentence in the respectable garb of considered justice. 

No, to decry baseball's handling of the entire Rodriguez affair, you merely have to believe that an institution which presumes to call itself the national pastime actually exemplify those sacred American values that justify its claim to the title.  And to believe, in addition, that this time around, in the name of restoring purity to the game, MLB made a mockery of them.  To purge one supposedly "intentional, continuous, and prolonged" user of performance-enhancing substances, the Commissioner's Office manufactured sham and vexatious lawsuits in order to trawl for incriminating documents and to co-opt complicit witnesses.  It threatened the immigration status of industrious legal residents.  It enlisted a band of would-be Pinkertons who impersonated law enforcement agents, bought stolen health records, and colluded with the thieves who purloined them.  And, finally, it struck with Tony Bosch a cooperation agreement that stands the Faustian logic of government proffers squarely on it head:  to prosecute an alleged user of illicit drugs, MLB shielded, indemnified, and remunerated an avowed dealer in them.   It even authorizes him to parlay his complicity into a book or movie deal.   Who says crime doesn't pay?    
"For purposes of this case, it is accepted that Bosch was a drug dealer whose activities... violated federal and state laws and regulations... [But] in exchange for [his] providing truthful information, MLB promised to dismiss Bosch and his brothers from its civil suit, refrain from seeking information or discovery from other Bosch family members, inform law enforcement of Bosch's cooperation, indemnify Bosch from civil liability by suits from Players as a result of his cooperation... [and] to pay Bosch's legal fees [and] to pay up to $2400 per day for personal security [$2400 per day for personal security?]... In addition, Bosch would be allowed to discuss with anyone the history of his involvement with Players, which could result in book, movie, and other media deals." In Re Alex Rodriguez, MLB Arbitrator Panel Decision No. 131, January 11, 2014, pp. 12, 22-23) ("Horowitz Decision") 
Of course, no one expects this particular Commissioner-- ascended from the ranks glad-handing, Midwestern Babbitry-- to pay heed to the frequency with which the country has succumbed to self-cannibalizing hysteria throughout its history because one phantom scourge or another has driven it to sacrifice liberty to purity and fairness to virtue.  Nor should anyone expect much from the horde of glorified gossip columnists who cover baseball like a Hollywood awards ceremony; the same self-appointed watchdogs whose pretense to expose fraud and mendacity rarely seems to extend from the players' locker room to the Commissioner's box or to the owner's lounge.

But where I ask was the MLB Player's Union when Selig and his caped crusaders embarked on their holy crusade?   Did the MLBPA not to think to intervene on behalf of one of their own and ask the Miami Dade Circuit Court to dismiss Commissioner's Office v. Biogenesis for its transparent abuse of the legal process?  Did the pernicious implications not occur to them?  That when all-powerful companies act as a private Attorneys General and investigate third-parties in order to expose their employees' moral turpitude--  however far afield from the workplace-- Americans, in general, and labor unions, in particular, enter a brave, new world bereft of Constitutional safeguards and of civil liberties? Perhaps Marvin Miller was a great deal more prescient than his successors care to acknowledge.   
Miller certainly wouldn't have missed the perverse irony that throughout the entire Rodriguez brouhaha, the Commissioner's Office conducted its investigation with the same contempt for fairness, rectitude, and transparency that they accused the third-baseman of violating on the diamond.  So brazen, in fact, was the Commissioner's office in advertising its disdain for basic principles of justice and due process that the Notice of Discipline Selig issued on August 5, 2013 produced the following chilling item of Orwellian doublespeak.
"Although we believe the Union is incorrect [that your discipline under the JDA can only be imposed in accordance with the schedule prescribed in 7.A  (1st violation = 50 games;  2nd violation = 100 games; 3rd violation = permanent ban)],  in the event the MLBPA prevails in [sic] your discipline must be in accordance with [] Section 7.A, the number of individual violations of the Program you have committed will necessitate the discipline be converted to a permanent suspension pursuant to pursuant to Section 7.A.3." 
Leave aside for a moment its inartful construction and the possibility for misinterpretation the sentence encourages accordingly.  Taken as its word, it appears to notify Rodriguez five months in advance of arbitrator Frederic Horowitz's ruling that baseball already has sealed his fate: vindication would only elicit further punishment.   That even if the arbitrator ultimately agreed with the Players' Association and applied the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program's progressive disciplinary regime-- 50-games (1st offense), 100-games (2nd offense),  permanent suspension (3rd offense); that even if the arbitrator, acting accordingly, reduced his 211-game suspension to 50 games; no matter.  For the Commissioner already declared his intention to override it and to impose a "permanent suspension" notwithstanding.   The m.o. reeks of one of Stalin's show trials.   The Inquisitor decides the accused's guilt in advance but leverages the threat of more draconian punishment to extract the confession he needs in order to legitimize a preemptive verdict and to mask a fraudulent legal process.

Did Horowitz, by this logic, actually do A-Rod a favor? Rodriguez could have fared far worse perhaps. Nonetheless, the 33-page decision Horowitz signed reveals an arbiter no more inclined to be bound by explicit contractual language, past legal precedent, or elementary principles of fairness than baseball's Commissioner.  To quote Horowitz himself, the "Panel Chair 'shall be the judge of the relevancy and materiality of the evidence offered [but] conformity to legal rules of evidence shall not be necessary."  (Horowitz opinion, p. 15, n.8)(emphasis supplied)

To be sure, the grievance proceeding he oversaw displayed all the trappings and ceremony of a fair trial.  Witnesses gave sworn testimony.  Parties introduced physical evidence.  Counsel engaged in spirited advocacy.  And an ostensibly neutral arbiter rendered a binding decision.  But beneath the appearance of deliberative justice presided a charade of Orwellian dimensions.  A world where Suspicion was Guilt; Fiat was Law, and Denial was Obstruction.  To cite just a few of its anomalies.  The testimony of a complicit and co-opted "drug dealer" trumped the reliability of an objective scientific drug test.  Baseball executives doubled as impartial fact-finders and partisan witnesses.  The Commissioner enjoyed a trial immunity even the U.S. President doesn't possess.  Meanwhile, his Office's chief informant qualified for 5th Amendment privileges denied the accused; over whom hovered, in turn, the consummate Hobson's dilemma.   Either Alex Rodriguez could testify, risk charges of obstruction, and incur more severe punishment.  Or conversely, he could refuse to testify and invite the adverse inference of guilt that ultimately convicted him.  And this travesty America's game actually called due process?    

The 162-game suspension Horowitz decided upon finds its basic conceit in the supposed unprecedented gravity, flagrancy, and frequency of Rodriguez's transgressions.  According to MLB's arbitrator, the Yankee third-baseman (1) ingested a banned substances on at least three occasions over the course of three seasons; and (2) on those occasion, he ingested multiple illicit substances besides.
"From these unrebutted facts, the conclusion is manifest that in 2010 Rodriguez committed three distinct violations of the JDA by use and/or possession of testosterone, IGF-1, and hGH...that Rodriguez continued to violate the JDA in 2011 by use and possession of testosterone, IGF-1 and hGH is established... [and] that Rodriguez continued to violate the JDA in 2012 by use and possession of testosterone, IGF-1 and hGH is also established... In cases such as this, involving the continuous and prolonged use or possession of multiple substances (as opposed, e.g., to a single positive test)... the Commissioner is not limited to the disciplinary schedule set forth in Section 7.A., but rather can fashion an appropriate penalty... supported by principles of just cause... (Horowitz opinion, pp. 21-22, 28)
Unrebutted or not, the evidence doesn't support the verdict.  Horowitz has stretched a single infraction into "three distinct violations" by contravening the JDA's letter, by distorting its spirit, and by ignoring the precedent set by past citations under its protocols.  For even if we concede, for a moment that Rodriguez did use and/or possess all the illicit drugs attributed to him and that he consumed them moreover with the frequency charged; even then, according to the JDA's expressed language, his entire drug history tallies one integrated violation-- not three (or more) discrete offenses.  Any result to the contrary would conflict with the JDA's expressed language.  No less than three separate provisions of the JDA, in fact, expressly prohibit the Commissioner from (i) citing Rodriguez for each instance he used drugs prior to receiving his Notice of Violation (his first) on August 5, 2013 and from (ii) augmenting his suspension for each one of the illicit substances his illicit cocktail comprised.  To quote each provision, in pertinent part,
"A Player will not be disciplined for a second or subsequent violation involving a Prohibited Substance that occurred prior to the time that the Player received actual notice of his first positive test result or non-analytical positive for the same Prohibited Substance, provided that the Player's discipline for his first violation was not overturned or rescinded." JDA, Section 7.L ("Notice of Violation")
"Players shall not be subjected to multiple discipline as a result of the same use of a Prohibited Substance" JDA, Section 3.H., "Multiple Discipline for the Same Use"
"If a single specimen is positive [] for more than one category of Prohibited Substances (Performance Enhancing Substance, Stimulant and/or a Drug of Abuse), the Player shall serve the longer applicable suspension only" JDA, Section 7.K. ("Multiple Substances")
Horowitz's opinion disregards Sections 7.K. and 3.H. entirely and adverts to Section 7.L. only to exclude Rodriguez from its scope through the most tortured of interpretations and most dishonest of rationales.  
"While the provisions of Section 7.L. protect a player from discipline for a second or subsequent non-analytical positive that occurred prior to the time that the player received actual notice of his first non-analytical positive for the same Prohibited Substance, the provision does not protect players from being separately disciplined for each use of or possession of a different Prohibited Substance prior to being provided notice of the first violation." (Horowitz opinion, p. 29)     
But by confining Section 7.L.'s application to users of a single PED, Horowitz vitiates Section 7.K. and the stricture against "cumulative punishment" for multiple drugs that the provision enshrines.  This is to say, that when a player's illicit repertoire blends multiple drugs, punishment for the more taboo drug subsumes the sanction for the more trivial one; the sanctions don't compound each other.   Hence, a drug test which discloses three types of illicit substances entitles the Commissioner to assess penalties for one violation, not for three.  But instead of reading Sections 7.L (offenses prior to notice) and 7.A. (penalties) to comport with Section 7.K.'s clear intent to disavow "cumulative punishment", Horowitz ignores the latter and imputes to the two former provisions the kind of pedantic distinction even Mr. Pecksniff himself might scorn.  (See 7.L. supra; 7.A., infra.)    Horowitz writes,
"[T]he express language of Section 7.A specifies a 50-game suspension for first offenders for the use of 'a Performance Enhancing Substance'...[not] use or possession of multiple Prohibited Substances... Rodriguez was found to have used three distinct PES... Thus, if the penalty structure in Section 7.A. is used as a guide as to appropriate discipline.. Rodriguez's conduct would merit no less than a 150-game suspension."  (Horowitz opinion, pp.28, 30) 
By underscoring the indefinite article, Horowitz interprets 'a' to mean 'one' and only 'one'.  But this would endow the indefinite article with the type of elaborate purpose that belies a more obvious reading.  Section 7.A. uses the singular rather than the plural in its operative clause simply to convey the verity that a player has to use or possess at least one banned substance to trigger a suspension.  The word 'a,' in other words, acts to qualify, not to quantify.  Horowitz has confused a necessary condition-- meaning at least one drug-- with an exclusive parameter-- meaning only one drug.   After all, didn't Manny Ramirez receive a 50-game suspension in 2009 despite testing positive for both hCG and artificial testosterone?  Today's athletes indeed tend to favor the kinds of drug cocktails where multiple synergistic compounds work together to maximize performance.  The more persuasive interpretation of Section 7.K then would extend its express bar against cumulative punishment for using multiple prohibited substances across drug classes -- e.g. amphetamines, marijuana, and steroids--  to compass, in addition, an implicit bar against cumulative punishment for users of multiple prohibited substances within a single drug class-- e.g., testosterone, hGH, IGF.    

But apart from resorting again and again to a transparently dishonest interpretations of specific JDA provisions, the premise underlying the 162-game suspension the arbitrator announced also flouts the JDA's general purpose. If Rodriguez was indeed an "intentional, continuous, and prolonged" user of performance-enhancing drugs, as Horowitz repeatedly describes him, then the Yankees third-baseman isn't uniquely culpable.  He is emblematic.   The drafter designed the JDA to target "intentional, continuous, prolonged" use-- not the unwitting, casual, or sporadic variety.   Otherwise, the JDA wouldn't confine administration of its drug test to approximately four random days throughout a six-month season.  No, they'd have implemented a daily test.  Not for nothing did its drafters title it a "Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program".  They intended it to address addiction and to preempt the "intentional, continuous and prolonged" addiction implies.  

Indeed, consider the absurd implications Horowitz's conclusion carry.  If we attribute "intentional, continuous, and prolonged" use to Rodriguez because Bosch testified to it and not to any of the 30-odd players cited for a positive drug test, then either we have to conclude that the latter only used illicit drugs the days their tests returned positive results (and not for weeks, months, or years beforehand).  Or alternatively, we have to conclude that the gravity of a JDA offense varies with the manner of its detection.  Prolonged use that triggers a positive drug test begets a 50-game sentence.  Recurring use detected through eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, on the other hand, earns a season-long suspension.  But even according to this perverse logic, Rodriguez's 162-game suspension still defies explanation and precedent.   Only one other time has MLB disciplined a player in the absence of a positive drug test.  After federal drug enforcement agents raided Jason Grimsley's home and seized PEDs, he admitted to using "anabolic steroids, amphetamines and HGH," but he only received a 50-game suspension.  
"Please your Majesty,' said the Knave, 'I didn't write it, and they can't prove I did: there's no name signed at the end.' 
'If you didn't sign it,' said the King, 'that only makes the matter worse. You MUST have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed your name like an honest man.'
There was a general clapping of hands…
'That PROVES his guilt,' said the Queen....  'Sentence first—verdict afterwards.'
'Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. 'The idea of having the sentence first!'
'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.
'I won't!' said Alice.
‘Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
'Who cares for you?' said Alice, 'You're nothing but a pack of cards!

The patently disingenuous reasoning and interpretative acrobatics that pervade Horowitz's opinion will recall for many the methodology of Bush v. Gore --  a Looking Glass universe where all the familiar landmarks that ordinarily guide judicial opinions -- uniform rules, transparent logic, controlling precedent, basic fairness and justice-- are inverted or vanish altogether.  Outcomes supply rationale.  Remedies fashion wrongs.  And legal reasoning knits a fine-spun intellectual mantle designed to camouflage vested interests and personal predilections.

The question though is why?  What was so reprehensible about Alex Rodriguez's infractions that they would lead a respected arbitrator to twist the JDA into Byzantine knots in order to uphold a ban that exceeds by 40-games the most protracted suspension any Major League Baseball player, to date, ever had exacted.  Before Steve Howe received his 119-game suspension in 1992-- the longest on record prior to Rodriguez's-- MLB had suspended him on six previous occasions for cocaine use.  Prior to 2013, the Yankees' third-baseman, by contrast, hadn't sat out a single day for drug violations.  In fact, even if we credit Bosch's testimony, Rodriguez's habits still pale by comparison to the incorrigible addiction that bedeviled Howe.  Neither does the suspension's length square with the penalties MLB has levied, more recently, against steroid users and against two of its more deceitful culprits in particular.  Now, the Yankees' third-baseman hardly meets anyone's idea of exemplary candor. Yet for scurrility or deviousness, his evasions fall considerably short of either Ryan Braun's or Melky Cabrera's.  Braun, you will recall, blamed his positive drug test in 2012 on the putative antisemitism of the custodian responsible for collecting his urine specimen.  Cabrera, on the other hand, attributed his violation to a dietary supplement he purchased from a company whose website, it turns out, he fabricated.  Neither sham cost its perpetrator more than 65-games however.
So if Rodriguez doesn't qualify as either a uniquely incorrigible offender or singularly duplicitous one, what sin did he commit that provoked such zeal to punish him.  In short, Rodriguez had the temerity to fight back.  He didn't merely exercise the right to appeal the grievance process affords every player.  Far worse in baseball's estimation, he adopted legal tactics every bit as ruthless and as opportunistic as his adversary.  He dared to treat the Commissioner as just another corporate executive deserving of no more deference, respect, or assent than any other self-aggrandizing, profit-driven private litigant.  And by doing so, he not only punctured the Commissioner's pretense to be some kind of Platonic sovereign safeguarding the integrity of a sacred American institution.  He also dramatized the grievous abuses that ensue when billion dollar corporations act as private law enforcement bodies, abuse the judicial process to punish their employees, and range afield of the workplace to expose moral turpitude and to vitiate employment contracts.  Rodriguez and his legal team  showed for all the world to see that the Commissioner wears no robes.   And for this effrontery, Horowitz slapped him for obstruction.    
"Deliberate efforts to obstruct an MLB investigation...may subject a Player to additional disciplinary sanctions under Article XII(B) of the Basic Agreement.  In this case, the evidence considered in its entirety supports a minimum of two such violations.  [First], Rodriguez, having himself publicly denied being treated or advised by Bosch-- a denial which he knew to be false-- played an active role in inducing Bosch to issue his own public denial on January 29, 2013, which Rodriguez also knew to be false.  [Second], Rodriguez also attempted to induce Bosch to sign a sworn statement on May 31, 2013, attesting that Bosch never supplied Rodriguez with PES and had no personal knowledge that Rodriguez had ever used them, statements that Rodriguez also knew to be false.  (Horowitz opinion, p. 26)  
"MLB [by contrast] had a legitimate interest in obtaining accurate information about Bosch's involvement with MLB players... [Thus], it was not inappropriate for MLB to reimburse Bosch for the attorneys fees he incurred as a result of his cooperation with MLB... The reimbursement for security expenses [also] addressed Bosch's legitimate concerns for his personal safety... Also unfounded are the charges of improper conduct by MLB investigators.. It is recognized that MLB paid Gary Jones $125,000 in cash for copies of documents.   But counsel for Rodriguez has acknowledged similar payments and offers..." (Horowitz opinion, pp.32-33)      
According to Horowitz, Rodriguez obstructed a MLB investigation because (1) he lied publicly about using PEDs; (2) induced Bosch to lie publicly on his behalf; and (3) attempted to induce Bosch to swear a false affidavit.   But where is it written that the CBA obligates a MLB player to tell the American public the whole truth and nothing but the truth?  Cabrera and Braun certainly didn't.  As of May 31, furthermore, no court had subpoenaed him.  Nor had MLB interviewed him as yet.  Finally, didn't Bosch have his own motives for his disavowals?  Or does Horowitz think Bosch would have held a press conference and confessed had Rodriguez not interceded?  And hasn't Horowitz also unwittingly countenanced the Star Chamber's logic by equating denial with obstruction and penalizing Rodriguez for his refusal to confess?  No, the Fifth Amendment doesn't apply to labor arbitrations but its basic canon transcends the criminal context.  To paraphrase Justice Frankfurter, "We are an accusatory, not an inquisitorial system of justice."

More troubling however is the flagrant double-standard that anchors Horowitz's conclusion.  MLB can reward Bosch for his cooperation and testimony.  The Commissioner's Office (the "CO") can indemnify a drug dealer for his legal fees.  The CO can underwrite his personal security.  The CO can lobby law enforcement officials on his behalf.  In fact, it even can enable the man to profit from his infamy through book and movie deals.   MLB can do all of this with total impunity-- neither compromising its case nor incurring a sanction for misconduct.   Yet when Rodriguez resorts to almost identical tactics.  When he enlists an exculpatory affidavit from Bosch and/or offers to defray Bosch's legal expenses, he engages in obstruction.

Consciously or not, this type of double standard draws upon the one legal context in which disparate rules for collecting evidence and for procuring witnesses actually do divide the parties-- in criminal prosecutions.  District Attorneys can reward witnesses, excuse accomplices, seize evidence, negotiate proffers while the defense, by doing so, would incur an obstruction charge, but this is because the DA doesn't represent a particular person or entity's interest.  The DA represents the State and by extension, the commonweal's idea of justice.   Does the Commissioner's Office then fancy itself a surrogate of the State, equipped with its moral stature, if not necessarily its legal authority?  Does Horowtiz realize that his double-standard implicitly credits MLB with such rank?    

Baseball has claimed for itself this type of national prestige almost since its inception.  Although the group of men who have owned Big League franchises have conducted their business with no less avarice or opportunism than any other major American industry, public opinion and common law largely have spared them the scrutiny and opprobrium that their more mercenary business practices otherwise might have brought.   Everyone, of course, remembers the cloying piety to which the courts descended in their futile attempt to save the reserve clause. "Baseball," wrote Judge Cooper in the Curt Flood case, "has been the national pastime for over one hundred years and enjoys a unique place in our American heritage.. Baseball is everybody's business.. The game is on higher ground; it behooves every one to keep it there."  Could anyone imagine a federal judge delivering himself of such homilies on behalf of Hollywood's "star system"?  And does the film industry own any less prominent place in the nation's heritage or exert any less influence in purveying America's highest aspirations and democratic ideals?   The studio system certainly never enjoyed exemption from the anti-trust laws; nor should it.      

This isn't to say that influential voices inside and outside the institution haven't discerned or even acknowledged the naked profit motive that baseball's mythology as the "national pastime," too often, cloaks.   No less entrenched an insider as former Commissioner A.Bartlett Giamatti once wrote, "In a fashion typically American, baseball [has] carried a lore at variance with its behavior; it promoted its self-image as a green game while it became a business.  That gap... is with us to this day."  Of course,  Giamatti acceded to the Commissioner's chair from the halls of academe.  And whether this outsider's perspective would have chastened his pursuit of Rodriguez or revealed to him the perverse irony of trying to uproot so-called "steroid cheats" through investigative tactics no less unscrupulous in their methods or Machiavellian in their motives-- whether Giamatti would have insisted that to mean anything an institution calling itself the nation's pastime has to honor the principle of due process, we only can speculate.

One thing is certain however.  The glad-handing Commissioner who rose from the Midwestern car lot to the owners' ranks and leaped from there to the Commissioner's Office and who has now occupied the office for the last twenty-some-odd years cherishes no principle short of the bottom line.   The "national pastime" doesn't signify much more to him than an advertising slogan and the Commissioner's Office doesn't represent any more exalted a position than the executive seat of Baseball Incorporated.   Were it otherwise, preserving the game's "competitive integrity" wouldn't simply mean suspending players like Rodriguez who ingest drugs to enhance their performance; it would also mean expelling owners like the Marlins' Jeffrey Loria who contrive to strip their rosters of talent and who purposefully condemn their teams to lose because victory is subordinate to profit.

Ask yourself this question.   What inflicts greater damage on MLB's competitive integrity?   When an arduous night of travel and acute sleep deprivation induces a player to consume a troche containing testosterone so he can rebound and performs at the highest level or when multiple owners field teams of Triple-A talent so they can pocket the revenue sharing subsidy the Commissioner's Office has allotted them specifically to improve their roster.

In America, the "malefactors of great wealth" wear many faces.  Sometimes he dons the jacket and tie of the local car salesman.  Half Avuncular, half smarmy, he slaps yours back and pumps your hand and tickles your ego even as slowly and imperceptibly he removes the last hard-earned sawbuck buried deep within your wallet.   Other times, he personifies the fat cat monopolist who spend his time chomping Cuban cigars, stroking his indolent, complacent paunch, and counting his money.   He owns the cable that wires your house or the operating system that drives your computer or the only sports franchise within a 300-mile radius of where you live.   Him, you don't just hand your money; you beg him to take it because there's no other game in town and without him, life is too boring or inconvenient to endure otherwise.  "Ain't America a great country?" he chortles all the way to bank, flattering himself for his gumption and shrewdness and snickering at all rest of us dummies.   And then there's the ruthless mustachioed petty tyrant whose brooding omnipresence haunts the office's every nook and cranny.   He prostrates his rivals through incessant litigation and predatory price wars, and no less than the competition, he intimidates his own employees.  He feeds on fear and ubiquity.   He tests your urine.   He clocks your lunch breaks.  He monitors your computer because the only thing he can't stand more than malingering is criticism.   Your every thought is to please him and if not, it better be.

So what is the national pastime? An Arcadian idyll of enclosed green spaces?  An exemplary melting pot which promotes assimilation and instils civic virtue?  A democratic arena where individual performance and objective statistics guarantee merit triumphant.   Or is Major League Baseball really no different from the old Hollywood studios or a modern-day entertainment conglomerate?   Drug tests and turpitude clauses.  Payrolls stocked with private investigators and co-opted journalists.  Docile and acquiescent unions.   Internal disciplinary hearings  impervious to legal norms and devoid of due process.   And looming over it all beams the protean face of a Commissioner whose tenure in the office has outstripped his last three predecessors combined.  He smiles like the used car dealer.  He preens like the fat cat.  And if you dare to defy him, he will efface your existence just as surely as the most draconian autocrat.

In Cooperstown, raise the banner high.  Only home run gods with pure blood and clean urine may enter.   All the rest beware because  BIG BUD IS WATCHING YOU.                    

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