Clouds over baseball

Through the long off-season of turbulent machinations the issue simmered, rearing here and there but never quite bursting forth in the banner headlines that have so blighted recent baseball summers. It had even been suggested that the public had tired of the infernal matter and had accepted however wearily the unpleasant realities, and was now anxious to move on.

Sorry, mates but it won’t be that easy. Nothing has been simple or even entirely rational about the drug debate that has consumed major league baseball since the turn of the millennium and that is not about to change now. As policy, wishful thinking has absolutely no wings.

As if the endless hassles over the “performance enhancements” were not problem enough, now along comes Ron Washington, erstwhile manager of the Texas Rangers and confessed drug offender, to muddle the issue even further.

Face it. In most other games a stray chap with no history of mischief getting nailed for having sniffed cocaine wouldn’t stir more than a ripple of attention or oblige more than two or three lines of agate type buried in the newspaper briefs. In other games, a mere drug bust has become an element of the initiation rite. But Baseball, for better or worse, gets held to a higher standard. What better proof that it remains, “the National Pastime”?

This in no way minimizes the seriousness of the Washington case. It is deservingly nettlesome. His blunder is epic and the handling of it so far has been unwise. It is one thing for a wayward and rawboned bush leaguer hardly out of his teens to get caught doing dope. It is quite another for an esteemed and 57 year old baseball lifer to fall from grace with such a thud. Ron Washington has always been a good baseball soldier; a notably gracious and generous fellow who was much liked and respected. His fall hurts and it resounds.

Washington’s transgression, of course, occurred last July when he admits to having done some cocaine during a night on the town. He was promptly snared when he tested positively in an unexpected MLB drug test. They hardly administer such tests every week, even to players, while managers get tested even less often. Indeed, few seem aware that managers, coaches, or other support personnel -- uniformed or otherwise -- ever get tested. It’s amazing how little, really, is known of a process that has become so vital.

But this much is clear; Washington getting snared was a bit off the wall and as much a matter of bad-luck as bad judgment. Once nailed, however, he seems to have faced the music like a man; actually turning himself in to management and terming his behavior ‘‘shameful’’ while declining to offer excuses. In the end, he even confessed his sins to his players, flinging himself on their mercy -- which takes a fair amount of guts -- and he offered to resign. How all this remained a secret -- most of it for eight months -- is yet another wonder.

No doubt all of that factored in the reasoning of the Rangers’ ownership led by the team’s president, the estimable Nolan Ryan, in opting to go easy on him. Or maybe they weren’t thinking at all, although the possibility that they were simply trying to pull a fast one can’t be dismissed. Keep in mind that had it been a player who’d been caught his suspension for a minimum of 50 games (presuming no “priors”) would have been announced the very next day as was notably the case with Manny Ramirez. How could it be reasoned that what’s good for a player is not for a manager? Or who would argue a manager doing something so dumb was not as reprehensible.

It should again be stressed that Ron Washington is one of the game’s best-liked chaps. He’s courtly and mild-mannered, helpful and unfailingly polite. His rise from the ranks of bit-player to manager was patient and painstaking, beating long odds, and he’s done an admirable job with the Rangers, one of the game’s tougher posts. Doubtless, such widely held considerations restrained the early reaction to Washington’s folly, which so far (at least as of the writing) has been decidedly charitable.

The hunch here is that the disposition to forgive and forget will not last. You sense the tide slowly turning. Given a couple of days to think about it the more influential columnists have begun second-guessing the Rangers’ motives and questioning the implicit double standard. The revelation that a blackmailer is responsible for outing Washington further widens the scandal. The precedent, clearly, is odious.

Most damaging is the growing doubt about Washington’s earnest pledge that he has transgressed on drugs only once in his life. Bill Madden, the highly influential columnist of the New York Daily News who is about to enter the writer’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, tartly expressed the suspicions of many heavyweight scribes when he wrote four days after the story broke: “Are we really supposed to believe that this was a one-time deal by a 57 year-old man?” It’s the times we live in that have made such cynicism obligatory no matter how well respected the unhappy fellow in the docket may be?

The Ron Washington fiasco is just another drop in the relentless drip, drip, drip of baseball’s performance enhancing drug nightmare. Be advised that it will end no time soon.

Over the off-season we had the recurring debate about the Hall of Fame worthiness of players even remotely tainted with faint and unverified suspicions of PED associations. And we have had the clumsy effort of Mark McGwire to extricate himself from the worst implications of his notorious connections with the issue leading only to his further embarrassment. And we have had the ongoing and hapless efforts of Roger Clemens to plough his way through the court system in a hopeless yearning for redemption.

Yet to come and eagerly awaited since last July is the explanation promised by the estimable David Ortiz about whatever it was that he took that made him test positively -- erroneously, he claims -- in 2003. You’ll recall Big Papi promised to get back to us on that. We’re still waiting. And not forgetting.

Also still pending is the date that Alex Rodriguez must keep with the FBI to discuss the services of a controversial Canadian physician, Dr. Anthony Galea. That last item looks fairly harmless but A-Rod being A-Rod, who knows.

The main point being, on and on it goes.

Small wonder that baseball people hold their breath as another season approaches. Many are still convinced the release of the rest of those names on that 2003 test list -- the one that was supposed to be private, secret and destroyed -- remains only a matter of time. The A-Rod biographer from Sports Illustrated has claimed to have seen the entire list. She could hardly be alone.

Can you even begin to imagine what the effect of the release of that entire list would be on the game?

As the Ron Washington follies again demonstrate, there are no secrets. Or at least none that can be kept.

Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to ...

Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

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, ...