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The Men of the Negro Leagues: Carl Long Day 2011

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

For tonight a reposting of an old article dealing with my friends from the Negro Leagues. These men were heroes, they played ball in the face of prejudice and discrimination and were a part of the Civil Rights movement. They were peers of Jackie Robison, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, and Larry Doby.

This article is from 2011, my friend, Negro League Hall of Famer Carl Long passed away in 2015. I do miss him.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

Carl Long Night: L-R  James “Spot”King, Hubert “Big Daddy”Wooten, Dennis “Bose”Biddle and Carl Long  at Historical Grainger Stadium

Friday I had the privilege of being invited to spend a portion of the day a number of former Negro League players, Minor League players and a couple of former Major Leaguers including one veteran of the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series Championship team, Trot Nixon.  In addition to the ballplayers I met Carl’s lovely wife Ella as well city officials from the City of Kinston and regular folks, baseball fans and parents with their children.

Carl and Ella

It was a day to honor one of the few remaining veterans of the Negro Leagues.  Carl Long played with the Birmingham Black Barons alongside Willie Mays and Country and Western singer Charlie Pride. He played against Hank Aaron and spent time in the minors with Willie McCovey and Roberto Clemente.  He was the first black to play in the Carolina League and still holds the record for the most RBIs in a season inKinstonwhich has also seen such sluggers as Jim Thome, Alex White and Manny Ramirez play at Historic Grainger Stadium.  Carl did not have a long baseball career, he injured his shoulder and his wife of over 50 years Ella, a local Kinston girl stole his heart.  In Kinston he became the first black commercial bus driver in the state, the first black Deputy Sheriff in North Carolina, and first black Detective on the Kinston Police Department. Carl was presented with a certificate from the Mayor of Kinston during the

That evening the Kinston Indians hosted Carl Long Appreciation night.  Carl as well as Dennis, James “Spot” King and Hubert “Big Daddy” Wooten and a number of local Negro League era players took the field near along the third base line as their names were announced.  A local television station filmed the event and Carl made sure the members of the “Field of Dreams” Little League team each got a copy of his signed baseball card. It was a night of emotion, appreciation and history.

Carl broke barriers wherever he went and credits his father with ensuring that he got his education, a mantra that he repeats to every young person that he meets.  I met Carl earlier in the season and knew that I was in the presence of a pioneer and a great American.  When I am in Kinston there is nothing that I enjoy more that listening to Carl’s stories of life in the Negro Leagues and breaking the baseball’s color barrier in the Deep South.

Hubert “Big Daddy”Wooten” 

It is hard to imagine now just how deep the poisonous river of racism ran in 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s America.  Then it was a fact that segregation was not only acceptable but widely practiced in much of this country.  Institutionalized racism was normal and violence against blacks and whites that befriended them was commonplace.  We like to think that we have overcome racism in this country but unfortunately there is a segment of the population that still practices and promotes this evil.  Even this week there was a Ku Klux Klan attack on the home of a black pastor in the South.  His offense….supporting a white candidate for county sheriff.  While we have overcome much there is still much work to be done.  I think this is why I believe it is so important to remember the men and women of the Negro Leagues.

One of the men at today’s events was Dennis “Bose” Biddle who played for the Chicago American Giants in 1953 and 1954.  He was in the process of having his contract purchased by the Chicago Cubs when he suffered a devastating injury to his leg and ankle going hard into Second Base.  When he couldn’t play in the Majors he went to college and became a Social Worker.  Dennis said to me “you know that “take out” sign at restaurants? We started it” referring to how black players would have to get their food at the back of a restaurant or eat in the kitchen out of sight of white customers.

Dennis “Bose”Biddle autographing a baseball 

The truth of the matter is that the players of the Negro Leagues were torch bearers in our society.  The men and women of the Negro Leagues barnstormed and played against white teams when baseball was still segregated.  When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson it was a seismic event with great social connotations.  A barrier had been broken and I dare say that without the men of the Negro Leagues that the work of other Civil Rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have had a less fertile audience in White America and probably a even less friendly reception than they had as they worked to fulfill the vision of a better America where men and women of every race, color and creed could aspire to great things.

Carl Long giving a baseball and good advice to a young fan

Men like Carl Long are responsible for this.  Some made their impact at a national level while others like Carl and Dennis on a local and regional level.  Like the men and women of the “Greatest Generation” this fellowship grows smaller with each passing year. Hubert “Daddy” Wooten was one of the last Negro League players; he played for and later managed the Indianapolis Clowns in the years where they barnstormed.  During that time he managed the legendary Satchel Paige. “Big Daddy” Wooten  is the youngest of the he surviving Negro League players a mere 65 years old.  Most are in their mid-70s or in their 80s.  It is important that their friends and neighbors write down their stories so they are not forgotten.

Baseball in particular the Negro League Hall of Fame and Museum has done a credible job of trying to preserve the contributions of these men to baseball and the American experience. Yet many more stories are still to be told.  I hope that as I continue to visit with Carl, Sam Allen in Norfolk and other players that I will be able to help them tell more of those stories.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve Loves the MLB Winter Meetings now More than Ever, Ron Santo Elected to Hall of Fame and Happy “Repeal Day!”

The Big Prizes at the Winter Meetings: Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder (Photo Jeff Curry/US Presswire)

“You win pennants in the off season when you build your teams with trades and free agents.” Earl Weaver

Yes my friends it is the time of year that the great Earl Weaver said was the most important to building championship teams.  The off season, particularly the winter meetings which are taking place this week in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  It is only Monday but things are heating up with discussions surrounding some of the league’s biggest stars and just who might sign them to big time contracts.

Every team has needs and during the winter meetings the goal is to find ways of meeting those needs from sources outside your system with the goal of producing a winning team.  At least that is what one hopes but things don’t always work out as planned.

Now the Miami Marlins are spending money like a drunken sailor and eying the biggest “fish” in the Sea of Free Agency.  So far they have spent 26 million on closer Heath Bell and 102 million for 6 years on Jose Reyes and are heavily engaged in courting Albert Pujols. Other teams are working hard to sign other major Free Agents and make deals and for me this is so much more exciting because I have finally gotten on Twitter and I am getting to hear the trade rumors, speculation and deals as they happen. This is cool.  Of course it is so much information that I cannot process it all at once and it will give me grist for later posts about how I see things stacking up for the various teams.  Big stories other than Pujols and Fielder include C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehle and even speculation about the possible return of Manny Ramirez.

As for my hopes…I hope that the Giants get some solid hitting this week, I would love to see Fielder or Pujols in San Francisco or for that matter Baltimore but that probably will not happen. I hope that the Giants get hitting and that the Orioles get some pitching and maybe another big bat.  Of course bad deal for the Dodgers is always welcome and a meltdown of the rest of the AL East greatly appreciated.  Hey I can dream can’t I?

The Ron Santo that I remember

One great thing to happen today was the vote to induct the late Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame. Santo received 15 of 16 votes from the Golden Age Committee composed of 16-member Golden Era Committee comprised of Hank Aaron, Pat Gillick, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal,Brooks Robinson, Billy Williams, Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt, Roland Hemond, Gene Michael, Al Rosen, Dick Kaegel, Jack O’Connell, and Dave Van Dyck voted Ron Santo into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Santo played as a Third Baseman for 14 years for the Chicago Cubs and one year for the White Sox and was an outstanding player.  Santo was a 9 time All Star who hit 342 Home Runs and 2254 hits, a .277 Batting Average and had 1331 RBI and was excellent defensively winning 5 Gold Glove awards.  But the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Santo also had 1108 walks a .362 OBP, .464 SLG and .826 OPS.  Santo played the majority of his career battling Type I Diabetes and concealed it until 1971 fearing that he would be forced to retire. He began a broadcasting career with the Cubs in 1990. He had his legs amputated in 2001 and 2002 and died December 10th 2010 of complications from bladder cancer and diabetes. Some may contest his election but I always thought that he should be in the Hall of Fame.

But on a more serious Constitutional issue I wish all of my readers a Happy Repeal Day. Yes this is the anniversary of when Congress righted a gross wrong by passing the 21st Amendment to the Constitution which repealed the 18th Amendment and restored balance to the universe.

You see back in July of 1919 following the Great War a large group of “values voters” got together and decided that it was the consumption of alcoholic beverages that was leading the nation to ruin. The fact that we had been on the winning side, or God’s side in what was not the “Mediocre War” but the “Great War” and were moving into economic dominance was of little matter.  Pharisees like to make their own rules as they go along.  So the Congress passed the 18th Amendment which banned the production, consumption or transportation of said alcoholic beverage in the country.  One of the promoters of this was a man named Welch who coincidently marketed Grape juice.  If you go to a church that uses grape juice for communion this is where it bean as churches used wine before that time because it was accepted as Biblical.

Of course when organized and for that mater disorganized crime took over what had been the previously legal activity of producing alcoholic drink the prohibitionists decided that tougher law enforcement was the answer. Of course that didn’t work and the problems that had been previously associated with the consumption of alcohol in its legal form got worse everyone knew that a great fraud had been perpetrated on the American people.  When that failed as it was bound to do groups of people, decided to disobey the law, including my grandfather Ernie and great uncle Johnny who ran “stills” in Wayne County West Virginia while others who lobbied to repeal the dreadful act.  Finally on December 5th 1933 with great irony the vastly prohibitionist and Mormon legislature of the great state of Utah ratified the 21st Amendment to end the fraud that religious hucksters masquerading as promoters of family values perpetrated in 1919. Let’s hope that that we don’t have top go down this road again. After all we in the Navy are still suffering from the decision of prohibitionist Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ended the use of alcohol in moderation on Navy ships in 1914 making us one of the few non-Islamic in the world navies to be “dry.”

So I wish everyone a Happy Repeal Day and God bless America!

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

The Big Prizes at the Winter Meetings: Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder Jeff Curry/US Presswire

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Remembering the Men of the Negro Leagues: Carl Long Appreciation Day

Carl Long Night: L-R  James “Spot”King, Hubert “Big Daddy”Wooten, Dennis “Bose”Biddle and Carl Long  at Historical Grainger Stadium

Friday I had the privilege of being invited to spend a portion of the day a number of former Negro League players, Minor League players and a couple of former Major Leaguers including one veteran of the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series Championship team, Trot Nixon.  In addition to the ballplayers I met Carl’s lovely wife Ella as well city officials from the City of Kinston and regular folks, baseball fans and parents with their children.

Carl and Ella

It was a day to honor one of the few remaining veterans of the Negro Leagues.  Carl Long played with the Birmingham Black Barons alongside Willie Mays and Country and Western singer Charlie Pride. He played against Hank Aaron and spent time in the minors with Willie McCovey and Roberto Clemente.  He was the first black to play in the Carolina League and still holds the record for the most RBIs in a season inKinstonwhich has also seen such sluggers as Jim Thome, Alex White and Manny Ramirez play at Historic Grainger Stadium.  Carl did not have a long baseball career, he injured his shoulder and his wife of over 50 years Ella, a local Kinston girl stole his heart.  In Kinston he became the first black commercial bus driver in the state, the first black Deputy Sheriff in North Carolina, and first black Detective on the Kinston Police Department. Carl was presented with a certificate from the Mayor of Kinston during the

That evening the Kinston Indians hosted Carl Long Appreciation night.  Carl as well as Dennis, James “Spot” King and Hubert “Big Daddy” Wooten and a number of local Negro League era players took the field near along the third base line as their names were announced.  A local television station filmed the event and Carl made sure the members of the “Field of Dreams” Little League team each got a copy of his signed baseball card. It was a night of emotion, appreciation and history.

Carl broke barriers wherever he went and credits his father with ensuring that he got his education, a mantra that he repeats to every young person that he meets.  I met Carl earlier in the season and knew that I was in the presence of a pioneer and a great American.  When I am in Kinston there is nothing that I enjoy more that listening to Carl’s stories of life in the Negro Leagues and breaking the baseball’s color barrier in the Deep South.

Hubert “Big Daddy”Wooten” 

It is hard to imagine now just how deep the poisonous river of racism ran in 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s America.  Then it was a fact that segregation was not only acceptable but widely practiced in much of this country.  Institutionalized racism was normal and violence against blacks and whites that befriended them was commonplace.  We like to think that we have overcome racism in this country but unfortunately there is a segment of the population that still practices and promotes this evil.  Even this week there was a Ku Klux Klan attack on the home of a black pastor in the South.  His offense….supporting a white candidate for county sheriff.  While we have overcome much there is still much work to be done.  I think this is why I believe it is so important to remember the men and women of the Negro Leagues.

One of the men at today’s events was Dennis “Bose” Biddle who played for the Chicago American Giants in 1953 and 1954.  He was in the process of having his contract purchased by the Chicago Cubs when he suffered a devastating injury to his leg and ankle going hard into Second Base.  When he couldn’t play in the Majors he went to college and became a Social Worker.  Dennis said to me “you know that “take out” sign at restaurants? We started it” referring to how black players would have to get their food at the back of a restaurant or eat in the kitchen out of sight of white customers.

Dennis “Bose”Biddle autographing a baseball 

The truth of the matter is that the players of the Negro Leagues were torch bearers in our society.  The men and women of the Negro Leagues barnstormed and played against white teams when baseball was still segregated.  When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson it was a seismic event with great social connotations.  A barrier had been broken and I dare say that without the men of the Negro Leagues that the work of other Civil Rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have had a less fertile audience in White America and probably a even less friendly reception than they had as they worked to fulfill the vision of a better America where men and women of every race, color and creed could aspire to great things.

Carl Long giving a baseball and good advice to a young fan

Men like Carl Long are responsible for this.  Some made their impact at a national level while others like Carl and Dennis on a local and regional level.  Like the men and women of the “Greatest Generation” this fellowship grows smaller with each passing year. Hubert “Daddy” Wooten was one of the last Negro League players; he played for and later managed the Indianapolis Clowns in the years where they barnstormed.  During that time he managed the legendary Satchel Paige. “Big Daddy” Wooten  is the youngest of the he surviving Negro League players a mere 65 years old.  Most are in their mid-70s or in their 80s.  It is important that their friends and neighbors write down their stories so they are not forgotten.

Baseball in particular the Negro League Hall of Fame and Museum has done a credible job of trying to preserve the contributions of these men to baseball and the American experience. Yet many more stories are still to be told.  I hope that as I continue to visit with Carl, Sam Allen in Norfolk and other players that I will be able to help them tell more of those stories.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, History, philosophy, Political Commentary

Discerning the Second Coming: The Cubs are the Key

This is a modified re-post of something that I did when I first started posting to this site.  At the time I had very few readers and this post was buried so far back that it was pretty much forgotten, except by me.  Since the Deity Herself speaks to me through baseball it follows that my eschatology, or theology of the end times has a baseball connection.Since the Cubs are currently in third pace in the NL Central with a record of 41 wins and 39 losses a week before the All Star break having just beat the Braves 4-2  I feel that is appropriate to re-address the topic.

The Creed says of Jesus that  “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”  The Creed however does not say how or when. Since many guys with a lot less theological training than me are making mega-bucks writing books about the Second Coming of Christ simply by watching CNN, Fox News and a host of websites and newspapers.  I watch these guys vainly trying to match headlines to Bible verses to show why they are right, or at least how to make changes in order to publish another book,  I figured why not do this from Baseball.

While Hal Lindsey, Grant Jeffery, John Hagee, Jack Van Impe and groups like the Prophecy Club make definitive statements based on “years of study” of the Scriptures, history and current events  only to have to revise those predictions when people and nations refuse to do not as they predict; I prefer not to live my life waiting for Fox News to tell me that Jesus is on the horizon.  I remember back in the 1970s when I read Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth and had the shit scared out of me.  What was way cool over the years was to see the revisions to the book as the world situation changed.  Likewise the new books published by others during the Gulf War and every stinking conflict in the Middle East which basically repackaged the same tripe with slight modifications due to world situation, political change or technological advances.  Even worse are the Left Buttocks series by Tim LaHaye whose books and movies sold more copies than People Magazine’s coverage of the death of Michael Jackson

My hair brained theory says that it all comes down to baseball, just as everything else in life. My belief is that when the Chicago Cubs win the World’s Series that we’d better start looking to the East, and pronto.

I’m actually somewhat serious.  I have no emotional investment in the Cubs, I’m a San Francisco Giants fan who has a fondness for the Oakland A’s.  I enjoyed the hell out of the 1989 NLCS when the Giants won the NL pennant against against the Cubs. I love the Giants, Willie Mays was and always will be the best baseball player who ever lived to me and though far away, and I can name player after player for the team over the years that I admire and I am really pissed at the way Barry Bonds has been singled out while guys like A-Rod and Manny get their wrists slapped and continue to play. Since I am such a partisan Giants fan with no emotional or spiritual attachment to the Cubs, I think that I can honestly say that I am impartial observer of this prophetic event.  At least as far as the Cubs are concerned.  I hold no personal animus against the long suffering Cubs, they are not the Evil Dodgers nor related to the anti-Christ, unless you are a Cardinals or Brewers fan.

Last year I was actually somewhat concerned that the Cubs were going to see Jesus back into town.   The Cubs were a favorite to reach the World Series and maybe win it. They appeared to have the best team in baseball and it was 100 years exactly since the last series that they won.  I was worried because as much as I believe that Jesus will come again, I have to confess that I’d prefer he wait until some following generation to do it.  The Cubs finished the regular season with a 97-64 record, the best in the National League.  The Evil Dodgers swept them in the NLDS ensuring that the Cubs would not make the series and calming my fears that Jesus might come before I could see the Giants win a World Series.

One has to look at history and see all the disappointment that Cubs fans have suffered over the years.  Think of the times that the experts said it was the Cubs time.  In 1984 they blew a 2 game to none lead in the NLDS and lost to the Padres.  In 1989 the Giants took them in 5 games.  In 1998 swept by the Braves, Remember the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins?  Up in the top of the 8th in game six and then everything fell apart shortly after the errant Cubs fan reached out and caught a foul ball that was almost in the glove of the Cub defender?  Swept by the Diamondbacks in 2007 and again swept by the Evil Dodgers in 2008.  There has to be something to this.  It is too eerily similar to guys like Hal Lindsey and others who keep reading the headlines and predicting Jesus’ return, and when he doesn’t they have to look at the headlines again, wait for another crisis and write another book.  Those who follow the Cubs are like followers of the Christian prophecy movement are always disappointed when their playoff prophets are proved wrong again and again.

Thus, all this considered I must be right, there is a correlation between the Cubs and and eschatology.  I could be full of crap, but I think I have something here, the Deity Herself I think assures me of this considering her love of Baseball. In the W.P. Kinsella novel The Iowa Baseball Confederacy a young man ventures to the end of a rail spur and ends up transported back in time to 1908 to a place in Iowa where the Cubs were playing an exhibition against a team of local all stars.  The game took on mythic proportions, and not to spoil the book, which I highly recommend, it tells of cataclysmic and cosmological significance of the 1908 Cubs.

I guess that to paraphrase Colonel Nathan R Jessup in A Few Good Men “The Cubs playoff defeats while tragic, probably saved lives.” I’ll end here, but to those who expect the Cubs to win the World’s Series you’d better be careful what you ask for…when you are rejoicing that the Cubs finally have won, Jesus may come and spoil your parade.

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Manny, A-Rod and Barry: How the Media and Government Selectively Target Ballplayers or Don’t

I love baseball as a game.  The Deity herself speaks to me through baseball.  While baseball to use the words of George Will is “Heaven’s gift to mortals” it is played, managed and judged by fallen humanity…thanks so much Adam and Eve, you should have gone to the concession stand in the Garden of Eden and got a hot dog and beer and left that that tree that you were told not to touch alone. As  the New Baseball Edition of the Bible says: “And God spoke to Adam and Eve saying “Thou mayest eat and drink freely from any concession stand, vendor or restaurant in the park, but thou shalt not eat from the Tree of the Knowlege of Good and Evil, lest you die or otherwise blow the game.”    It is my opinion that baseball’s problems can be traced to the failure of the first couple to get this one little thing right.

As a result of the fall we can be assured that while baseball is the chosen sport of the Deity who “in the Big Inning created the heavens and the earth” it will not be perfect in this world.  This is readily apparent in the past 7 or 8 years or so of the baseball steroid scandal.  There is much blame to go around in this whole sordid affair from the commissioner’s office, to owners, the MLB Players union President Donald Fehr and the players themselves who blocked efforts to initiate tough and fair drug testing managed by them and the league.

Because of the league and players inability to police themselves they opened themselves to machinations of congressional committees led often by congressmen who have to assert their dominance in every aspect of American life.  I actually found the inquisitional hearings led by Representative Henry Waxman to be a disgusting overreach of government power directed by people who couldn’t get picked to play on a little league team. The unbridled jealousy of career politicians who haven’t worked a real job in years toward the highly successful athletes was displayed as they dragged player after player before their committee.  Congressmen asked them leading questions about the use of substances that were not always illegal setting them up for eventual prosecution of lying to Congress because like in the case of Bonds they gave ambiguous answers to the questions.  Now I am not saying that the players were without blame, many set themselves up for this by blatantly looking guilty if they were not guilty of anything.  The league and player’s union policies and response did nothing to help the matter and now we sit with what seems to be a never ending circus which harms the game.

My beef with many of those involved is that they do not respect the game.  This goes for players, owners, union officials, media, politicians and investigators.  This disrespect for the game has reached epic proportions as the hubris of all concerned reached incredible heights.  While I could go on and on about this I am going for now focus on the inequitable treatment of the accused players by the media and government which I believe is glaringly apparent in the treatment given to Barry Bonds as opposed to players such as Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.

Baseball purists are perhaps the most religious of fans.  We don’t like it when people mess with the game.  The game itself is sacred, thus when players, owners, union people, media or the government do things that we perceive to hurt the game we get just a tad bit upset.  Football, Basketball and Hockey players, owners and officials can just about get away with murder and not only remain in the game but become or remain stars who eventually reach their respective Hall of Fame.  Baseball on the other hand will take the person who has committed an infraction and like the ancient Israelites cast heavy stones upon their reputation and memory to the seventh generation.  Baseball can be a very unforgiving game.  The diamond is “holy ground” and the game is to be respected by players, owners, media, government and fans alike.   This has not been the case in regard to steroids and other performance enhancing substances including their use by players, toleration by owners and “fishing expedition” investigations by Federal agents and Congress.

This being said in the past six years there has been an inequitable treatment of players accused or proven to have taken banned or illegal performance enhancing drugs or supplements.  When Congress, the media and a then relatively unknown IRS investigator named Jeff Novitzky.  One of the best commentators on the way that the Bonds investigation and prosecution has been handled, Jonathon Littman notes that the “Clear” that Bonds was accused of using was not illegal at the time that he allegedly used it, but also was not classified as a steroid.  Littman notes that

“Experts say prosecutors might have intentionally asked Bonds what they knew to be ambiguous questions – never defining steroids or making a distinction between drugs that were illegal or merely banned by many major sports.”

“This case has been presented as Barry Bonds lying about steroids,” said Christopher Cannon, a San Francisco defense attorney with extensive experience in federal perjury cases. “The government’s theory is that he was taking the Clear. If the government knows the Clear wasn’t a steroid – then when Barry said he wasn’t taking a steroid, he was telling the truth.”

Likewise the manner in which Novitzky has led the government investigation leads on to wonder what the motivation is for the prosecution.  There was very little money involved in the BALCO case, those accused or convicted have received very minor penalties, but the investigation which has spanned years has cost the government 55 million dollars.  As Littman writes:

“The paucity of illegal profits and drugs raises the question whether prosecutors realized that the only potential for criminalizing the behavior of athletes who took banned substances was to set perjury traps or bait athletes into lying to the grand jury or to a federal agent.

“It sounds like a misuse of the grand jury,” said John Bartko, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco who has tried perjury cases. “They go and try to trip the guy into lying.””

Now Bonds may not be the most sympathetic character, but he does deserve to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.  Instead the prosecutors and some in the media have gone out of their way to destroy any chance of Bonds either playing again ever reaching the Hall of Fame.  He is called a cheater in an era when it is likely that that a large number of players were doing the same thing, without penalty.  It seems to me that Bonds has been singled out while others are left alone.

This is nowhere nearly apparent than with the recent admission by Alex Rodriguez that he took steroids, after having previously denied it and the positive test and 50 game suspension of Manny Ramirez for the use of a banned substance, a suspension that Ramirez just completed.  A-Rod seems to have weathered his admission and I see no one coming after him while Ramirez’s return punctuated every other game during the day.  Neither man received the abuse heaped upon Bonds and they have admitted or actually tested positive for the use of steroids or banned substances.

Having had to administer drug tests as a Army Company Commander I know that the burden of proof is on the prosecutor.  The manner of testing and the chain of custody must be impeccable, otherwise allegations are just that and you cannot, unless you want to look like a fool and attempt to prosecute under Article 15 proceedings or Courts-Martial without unimpeachable evidence that a person took a substance known to be illegal at the time it was used, not something that was made illegal after the fact.  The Bonds prosecution looks to me like a gross misuse of the Grand-Jury system and government power to make an example of Barry Bonds.  If Bonds had been a mediocre player or not hold the records for the all time home runs and single season home runs he would not be a target.

Having said all of this the entire steroid era, especially the actions of the baseball owners, commissioner and players union sullied the game and opened the door to political opportunists like Waxman and investigators who use questionable and likely unethical and maybe even illegal means in order to trip up as suspect, as Novitzky appears to me to have done.  Baseball must police itself and both players and owners must subscribe to a fair and clearly defined drug policy that leaves no room for misinterpretation.  Maybe they should look to military rules of evidence for such a program which apply to all players equally with both random tests throughout the season which would ensure that every player was tested as well as periodic sweeps of the entire league.

In the case of Bonds and those whose real or alleged crimes now date back six or more years it is time to stop the madness.  It is a waste of taxpayer money to continue this sham puritanical inquisition against Bonds while so many others are given a pass.  Bonds name and reputation have been destroyed and he has never been convicted of a crime by prosecutors who continually have their evidence thrown out and indictments overturned by judges.

If you want to read more by Littman and his reporting of this go to: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=li-novitzkythomas031909&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

As far as A-Rod and Manny, they are not going to the All-Star game this year as baseball fans are tired of this kind of behavior.  If owners and players will not police themselves those of us who love and respect the game will ensure that they are accorded no honors.

Peace, Steve+

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