Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 25, 2007
BASEBALL: Hunter Becomes Hunted

In light of the Torii Hunter situation, I think what MLB needs to do is retroactively clarify the rule to apply a lower punishment for minor violations. The current punishment is disproportionate to these facts - you can't suspend Hunter for three years. At the same time, if the rule is on the books you have to enforce it, and can't be selective about it. And while the punishment seems especially draconian for a guy who apparently didn't even know of the rule (I'd never heard of it before), I'm not at all comfortable writing into a prophylactic rule of this nature an "out" for guys who claim they didn't know.

This is off topic but this is another reason I've long thought the campaign finance laws were a farce. Back in the 90s, both Newt Gingrich and Al Gore (and they weren't the only ones, witness Tom DeLay's legal difficulties) got in trouble for rather technical campaign finance violations. In both cases their supporters argued that (1) such technical violations couldn't possibly be grounds for prosecuting such important elected officials, (2) they could not have known they were breaking the rule, there was no controlling legal authority, and (3) those laws hadn't been enforced in that way in the past (in Gore's case an 1886 statute nobody'd ever been prosecuted under). Regardless of the merits of the two cases, it seemed to me then and still does that if the laws are vague or technical enough, or the penalties disproportionate enough, that you would blanch at throwing an important person you support in the slammer for breaking them, then they have no business on the books. The same goes here - if you don't think Torii Hunter should be suspended for three years over a couple cases of champagne, change the rule.

PS, Hunter was making good on something he had said last year - did MLB know then, and if so why didn't anyone warn him?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:39 PM | Baseball 2007 • | Politics 2007 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I think Bud Selig has a good head on his shoulders, and can therefore apply the "Best Interest of Baseball" clause, and make the punishment fit the crime. Which should be a letter from Hunter promising not to break rule whatever it is.

OK, so you bring up campaign finance. The only way to deal with this is either permit you to pay whatever you want, or mandate public financing only, and somehow, and there is no way I guess, to permit outside ads.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 26, 2007 11:35 AM

Apparantly, one of the Royals was a little miffed that he didn't get his share. Hunter was hit in the mouth with a pitch by Zack Greinke. Hunter was taken to the hospital and received three stitches.

Posted by: Chris Graham at April 26, 2007 4:43 PM

I believe this came up 3-4 years ago in the NFL when Dick Vermeil tried to give Morten Andersen (I think I have the players right in this) a bottle of expensive California Chardonnay (I think that was it) for making a game winning kick. Turns out it would violate the salary cap rule and they "couldn't do it". I assume Vermeil found some less public way of getting Andersen a bottle of wine. Little stuff like that and the regulation there of is so stupid. It's like they hired the NCAA to be in charge of stuff like this.

Posted by: jim at April 26, 2007 5:04 PM

Crank, was this rule written immediately after the Black Sox scandal? Seems trivial in the era of million dollar plus salaries.

Posted by: feeblemind at April 28, 2007 1:34 PM

This reminds me of the George Brett pine tar bat incident many years ago. As Billy Martin found to his dismay, there are rules, and then there are "the spirit of the rules". While Brett broke the rules, he did not break the spirit if the rules. Suspect Hunter will be found not guilty of breaking the spirit of the rules.

Posted by: feeblemind at April 28, 2007 1:42 PM

This may predate the Black Sox scandal. There were several instances of players grooving a pitch for a buddy, etc. One year on the last day of the season a team had their third baseman play way back allowing Nap Lajoie to get 4 bunt hits to beat out Cobb for the batting title. Cobb was that hated.

Posted by: largebill at April 28, 2007 3:55 PM

This has do with the dead ball era when guys like Hal Chase would give opponents "gifts" for giving their best efforts.

Posted by: Geb4000 at April 29, 2007 3:31 AM

feeblemind, Hunter may not have broken the spirit of the rules, but he did break the spirits of the rules.

Sorry.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 29, 2007 9:00 AM

feeblemind, Hunter may not have broken the spirit of the rules, but he did break the spirits of the rules.

Sorry.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 29, 2007 9:00 AM
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