Sam Baldwin

Sam Baldwin

Online Editor

Sam Baldwin is a former Online Editor of Mother Jones.

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Even With Steroids, Trading Sammy Sosa Was a Dumb Move by Bush

| Thu Jun. 18, 2009 5:00 AM EDT

The exposé of Sammy Sosa's past steroid use hasn't surprised much of anybody. I lived a few blocks from Wrigley in Chicago during the magical 1998 season and even as a middle schooler I could sense that something was amiss. After Big Mac, BALCO, Clemens, congressional interventions, A-Rod, and Manny, fans and the sports press don't have the energy left to go through the outrage motions with Slammin' Sammy. In Robert Lipsyte's excellent overview of recent sports books he suggests that the sports media take a new approach towards the steroids story:

Meanwhile, it feels like the pin-striped suits are slinking away without the media-mauling they deserve, much less real punishment. Maybe this is the chance for the sports media to make a comeback, avenge the loss, win one when it counts. While it might be hard to mount a war crimes charge against George W. Bush, what about a steroids trial? After all, he was managing partner of the Texas Rangers in the early 1990s when Jose Conseco, the guru and snitch of performance enhancing drugs, played for him and began sharing his needle.

So, George, what did you know and when did you know it?

Funny that Lipsyte should mention Bush's former ownership of the Texas Rangers on the day the Sosa steroids news broke. During the 2000 Republican primaries the candidates were asked what they considered their biggest mistake and Bush somewhat famously answered that his had been to sign off on the 1989 trade of Sammy Sosa from the Texas Rangers to the Chicago White Sox. It was a dumb answer—he did, of course, have a DUI—but it was innocuous enough and may have endeared him to baseball-loving Americans. The 2000 elections, after all, fell right during the height of the Steroid Era; a time when balls were flying out of ballparks, and the game was enjoying an incredible surge in popularity. So while Bush's trade of Sosa looked particularly stupid in 2000, when Sammy was in the midst of a 4-year stretch where he hit an insane 243 homers, a decade of steroid scandals later (including Sammy's own day of reckoning) the trade doesn't look any better.

Why? Because, to owners throughout the majors, the Steroid Era was worth the largely player-focused ignominy that followed. The game enjoys a popularity and profitability today that it never would have without the enhanced exploits of Sammy and Mark McGwire in 1998, Barry Bonds to follow, and so on.

This is precisely Lipsyte's point: owners haven't suffered any consequences for their role in the Steroid Era (other than temporarily losing the services of players suspended for juicing). Steroid use is a stain that falls solely on the players (even as they feel the physical after-effects on their bodies), while the real moneyed interests continue to get off scot-free. 

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The Week in Digg/Reddit: Trent Reznor, Wolverine Leaks, and Dubai

| Thu Apr. 9, 2009 6:38 PM EDT

Social media, that dastardly upstart of a content type, is a little like a cocktail party: occasionally interesting and usually full of people you sort of know. Social media aggregators, on the other hand, are more like boozy pubs: entertaining and loud.

Forthwith, 10 links this week from Digg and Reddit that I found informative and deliciously strange. This (and every) week's meme: the internet! Think of social media aggregators as newspapers that report on the internet as if it were a place. That's right, kinda like a bar and kinda like a newspaper. Enjoy.

1) Does anyone else feel like despite the vastness of the internet you just visit the same 4 or 5 sites over and over?

2) Trent Reznor explains the music industry.

3) Is it immoral to review leaked copies of The Wolverine movie?

4) Hey, Bill Gates has a Facebook page!

5) Should Obama control the Internet?

6) The dark side of Dubai.

7) Yes, the Internet sucks on April 1. Every year.

8) Chewbacca chord. Hilarity ensues.

9) Hungover in London? Have I got a bacon cure for you. 

10) Just cuz it reminds me of the Homeward Bound movie..

Can Chris Paul Save New Orleans?

| Sun Apr. 5, 2009 11:14 AM EDT

A remarkable thing has happened in New Orleans and for once an NBA star deserves more praise and worship then he's getting. Let me set the scene: the state of Louisiana now subsidizes its NBA team, the New Orleans Hornets, to prevent them from leaving after Katrina decimated their already weak market. This agreement was reached last season, when it looked as if the Hornets were likely to lose $20 million and would need to search for a new city. Louisiana paid the team $6.5 million, no small amount considering the state budget deficit was $341 million. This year, officials estimated those payments to rise to $7 million, even as the budget deficit balloons to more than $2 billion.

Back to that remarkable thing: this season the Hornets lead the league with a 38.6% increase in attendance and are up to a respectable average of 16,976 fans per game. Against all odds the Hornets will surpass attendance and revenue benchmarks, triggering a clause in their deal with the state so that they no longer receive the state money. That extra $7 million is an unexpected boon and one of the only good pieces of news coming out of Louisiana, where Gov Bobby Jindal has talked about refusing stimulus money while pushing massive cuts for state programs. So why is no one talking about the wonderful Hornets player largely responsible for all of this? Why no buzz about the one-man recession fighting machine? 

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