PED mess redux, ad nauseam

And so now it is clear that baseball’s worst fears are slowly but quite certainly being realized with a steady and relentless drip. Nor is there much doubt that the dreaded worst case scenario will soon follow, probably in the form of a deluge.

Given the sort of luck baseball has had dealing with its Performance Enhancing Drug scandal, the ultimate fiasco will probably occur either in September when interest peaks as the pennant races become feverish or in October during the so-called “Fall Classic” when all the world is watching. All of which would of course add substantially to baseball’s shame and then maybe somebody at long last will have the grace to say, “Enough is enough!”

It’s been with fear and loathing that the game has proceeded since Alex Rodriguez was brought down with a bloody crash in February. When they nailed A-Rod they breached the dike making it only a matter of time before all 104 players who tested positive in that now infamous “survey” conducted during the 2003 season would be revealed.

Of course, that test was supposed to be “top secret.” It was said to be just “a trial run.” They promised no names would be attached to any results thus making everyone “anonymous.” It was on this basis that the players agreed to it. They didn’t have to, you know. There were no court orders. No arm of the law was forcing them. It was voluntary, for gosh sakes; the product of an agreement with the owners hashed out with the Players Union to try to determine precisely the scope of baseball’s drug problem with solid statistical documentation; as such it was a rare example of the much despised union and the never to be trusted owners getting together to try to do the right thing, for a change. And then the Union screwed it up, somehow.

But however noble the original intent, we might safely now conclude it’s backfired ingloriously much to the delight of too many. Whatever good it accomplished in stemming the influence of PED has been outweighed by the disproportionate ruin it now threatens to bring upon too many.

It is further noteworthy that the players of no other games have ever acquiesced to such a “survey,” or have ever even been asked to. And if they ever should be, stand by for the spectacle of gales of laughter rolling over the sporting landscape. In retrospect, the baseball players should regard themselves as having been suckers. There are those who will say that comes as no surprise.

Nor ought we be surprised that Slamming Sammy Sosa becomes the latest casualty. Sammy was always this scandal’s “Exhibit A.” Well before the outrage over steroids got off the ground folks were snickering at Sammy’s swelling physical dimensions. If Mark McGwire was the Paul Bunyon of the beefed-up ballplayer brigade the affable Sosa was its Popeye.

Moreover, Sammy had long stood convicted by the evidence of his own statistical rapsheet. The immense McGwire, who rather more looked the part, was also more believable in that he had been certified as a prodigious home run hitter for more than a decade before his numbers started taking off into the ionosphere. But with Sosa, the transformation happened overnight.

In his first nine seasons wandering from the Rangers to the White Sox to the Cubs Sosa had only once hit over 36 homers, only once batted over .273, only twice knocked in more than 100 runs, never once led the league in anything. Then in the now much to be regretted and entirely bogus homer happy season of 1998 in which Sosa and McGwire vied with much drama and stage craft for the honor of expunging Roger Maris from the record book Sosa erupted with 66 homers and 158 RBI. It was a ferocious pace he would roughly sustain three more seasons.

Never in the history of the game had there been a comparable example of a player so thoroughly reinventing himself in the middle of his career since Babe Ruth transitioned from pitcher to everyday player and reinvented the game itself back in 1920. In that Sosa was clearly no Ruth, his sudden makeover and concomitant achievements were immediately deemed suspicious.

Also quite suspect is the manner in which Sosa has been officially “outed” as a member of that unhappy lodge of baseball’s 2003 drug offenders. According to the New York Times, which broke the story, Sosa’s name was leaked by (quote) “lawyers with knowledge of the drug testing results from that year (2003).”

But who are these bashful barristers? Are they connected with baseball, or any of the grand juries running around sniffing into aspects of the issue? Or might they be still more of the rogue government prosecutors, investigators, and/or wiseguys who are already in hot water with the judicial system for the way they’ve behaved on this case and the civil liberties abuses they have racked up along the way? Even more important, how many other dubious characters out there have “a knowledge of the drug testing results from that year”? Now there’s a question you don’t need to be a member of the ACLU to find more than a bit chilling.

The Times -- oddly, conveniently, or otherwise -- does not offer so much as a hint. But the reporter, Michael S. Schmidt, does note: “The Lawyers spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified as discussing material that is sealed by a court order.”

Now isn’t that lovely. These little smarty-pants, lawyer-boys cover their tracks by hiding behind a shield of journalistic source protection but have no problem smearing people the court is trying to protect while defying the court orders aimed at affording that protection even though they are alleged to be “officers of the court”. If I don’t have a law degree I doubt much of that is “legal” let alone ethical. Still more to the point, I have been in this business (journalism) a half century yet remain uncertain that we should play footsie with some of these “bashful barristers”. You can pay too high a price for a “scoop”, however “hot” it may be.

If on the surface this flap seems merely to be only about baseball and the 104 ballplayers who -- you may feel -- only deserve whatever hurts and hardships as may come their way, it is actually developing into a possibly major legal question that could even lead to a landmark judgement relating to the huge issue of due process from no less than the Supreme Court. Now that should make A-Rod feel proud, don’t you think?

It all relates to the seizure of that list of 104 names by a hyper-aggressive group of Justice Department gumshoes and prosecutors who snared the stuff hoping it would seal their case against Barry Bonds. It’s been argued that they did so unlawfully and with a particular arrogance. In a hassle that has gone on almost six years, two lower courts have already upheld that viewpoint. But the government as ever keeps appealing. The matter now rests with an 11- judge Appeals Court panel in California, which is expected to rule momentarily although we have been hearing that since March.

No matter how they rule in the end, an appeal to the Supreme Court is considered certain. Legal folk say it could be a notably important ruling in that it would address the increasingly controversial tactics that the government uses in its investigations and not merely those that have to do with baseball, mind you. To think that A-Rod may yet end up being associated with a landmark ruling of Constitutional Law, placing him alongside Reynolds, the Board of Education, and Gideon. Could his ego handle it? Could we stand it?

But if in the meantime the other 102 names get leaked, how much good will it do them to have even the Supreme Court say, “Sorry”?

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...