Torii Hunter, Al Gore, Newt Gingrich and McCain-Feingold
By Dan McLaughlin Posted in Law — Comments (2) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
In light of the Torii Hunter situation, I think what Major League Baseball needs to do is retroactively clarify the rule to apply a lower punishment for minor violations:
Hunter's gift of four bottles of Dom Perignon, which he had delivered to the Royals clubhouse this past weekend, was meant as a reward for the Royals sweeping the Detroit Tigers last September, allowing the Twins to come from behind to win the American League Central. The gift fulfilled a promise Hunter made last fall.
But baseball has rules about this sort of thing.
Namely, rule 21-b, which proclaims "Any player or person connected with a Club who shall offer or give any gift or reward to a player or person connected with another Club for services rendered ... in defeating or attempting to defeat a competing Club ... shall be declared ineligible for not less than three years."
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.
The Hunter case may seem off topic here, 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.
If you don't think Torii Hunter should be suspended for three years over a couple cases of champagne, change the rule. And the same should go for our campaign finance laws.