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The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Responses

Major League Baseball - Still broken after all these years
• James Campion
Major League Baseball continues its over a century of government-sanctioned fraud, racketeering, suspension of civil rights, and illegal business practices this week by suspending the right to work of one of its players for one year on nothing more than the purchased testimony of a convicted criminal, circumstantial copied evidence of emails and purported receipts handed over by said criminal for the purchase of illegal (by league standards, not the nation’s) performance enhancing substances.

major league

If this tried-and-true lynch-worthy witch hunt mastery of correlation equals causation ever happened anywhere else in this country we would be sickened, frightened, and outraged. But in the somehow eerie bubble of sport, it is seen as a triumphant moral imperative.

And this is why Major League Baseball must be shut down and re-examined as a legitimate business under the laws of the United States as such and not as it was deemed in a queer 1922 Supreme Court ruling as merely a Game. Therefore, in one of the most egregious loopholes in the sordid history of American law, MLB has enjoyed exemption from the anti-trust laws that govern the anti-capitalist practices of monopoly. Among other organized-crime like shenanigans, MLB merrily used this nonsense to keep the game all-white until Jackie Robinson’s heroic barrier-breaking season of 1947, which, for some reason baseball is given a social medal for doing so – you know, for allowing American citizens, who had the talent and comportment to earn a living alongside other American citizens.

MLB also used this boondoggle to treat its employees and its product (let’s face it, no one ever goes to a ballpark to watch owners, nor do they rush to box seats and wave down vendors for hot dogs unless players are there playing the damn game) as if indentured servitude until 1972, when a brave soul named Curt Flood said no to a trade. Before Flood, and later the court cases that won players the right to choose the city and team they wished to play for based on salary and personal comfort, players either ate shit or went back to plowing fields or pumping gas.

Oh, and when salaries and player movement became too much for owners, they colluded to deny players a fair marketplace in the 1980s’ and were summarily found guilty of this horrendous practice, but were left to police themselves, having that comfy exemption from U.S. law umbrella. It was the same umbrella that kept the U.S. Congress at bay during the last 25 years (the steroid era), over-seen with dollar-sign gaiety by MLB’s commissioner, Allan Huber “Bud” Selig, who duly ignored all logical sense of law and business decorum in 1994 by orchestrating the lock-out of players and the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in a century to force a league salary cap on the Players Association.

Teams abandoning cities, the civic raping of local jurisdiction to prize cash for massive, unneeded ballparks, outlandish license fees for logos, asinine lapdog television scheduling of games at all-hours of the night and for a ridiculous length of time, and willy-nilly “for the good of the game” rulings against players, affecting careers and legacies is business as usual for The Game, which is an over $9 billion venture.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without drugs; as the famous home run chase of 1998 attested, bringing back a fractured fan base and eroding inertest of the game behind the might of the NFL and Michael Jordan’s NBA and capturing the imagination of media and fans everywhere. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were both jacked to the tits on steroids whilst obliterating fifty-year records as the money rolled in. And no one seemed to care, least of all Selig, who not-so quietly celebrated with his bosses, the owners, that their shenanigans of 1994, while it did not crush the union and put a hard cap to save themselves from their salacious selves, it did weaken its resolve and finally led to the later “come-to-Jesus” moment to expunge the evils of PED’s from the Game.

It was a systematic stripping away of player’s rights, to which they sadly agreed, with the random testing for anything under the sun, later becoming an abject mockery of the rights of one Alex Rodriguez, who was thrown out of baseball based not on the agreed and already insane baseball drug policy of a failed test, or even hard, direct evidence of use, but a connect-the-dots, leaking hearsay to the press, fixed arbitration personal assault.

But, as stated, this is all expected of baseball, which has treated players since day-one as plow mules. What is most alarming is the paucity of defense or investigative queries from the sporting press. All but three voices out of hundreds, by my count, has even bothered to deconstruct the systemic problems with MLB’s draconian procedures; a New York City radio host, Mike Francesca, a national baseball journalist for MLB Network and Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal, and Deadspin’s brilliant Tim Marchman, who penned a remarkably scathing screed, “Major League Baseball’s War On Drugs Is An Immoral Shitshow” (must read) eviscerating the demented Selig, who hopes to now become the Clean Commissioner before retiring.

Okay, so sportswriters are the lowest form of journalism and this is the toy department of news, and Howard Cosell’s predicted “jockocracy of sport’s coverage” has come home to roost, but nearly everyone, and I mean everyone, has just dog-piled on Rodriguez as if it is some kind of overdue flogging. It reeks of the press’s weirdly quiet role in McCarthyism and those first months of the Iraq War, with all the flag-pin wearing, giddy imbedded reporter goofiness.

Maybe the worst, beside the NY Daily News, which for months acted as MLB’s print bitch, splashing the most heinous lies as fact and depicting Rodriquez as the bane of humanity, would be whatever is left of 60 Minutes. This once proud news program, which already paraded a complete fraud as a key witness to the “Crimes of Benghazi”, gave airtime to MLB’s drug dealer witness – a drug dealer who was paid by MLB for information citing Rodriguez, which was the very “crime” the late George Steinbrenner was suspended by The Game.

Hell, even George Zimmerman, a man who shot a kid to death for getting his ass kicked in broad daylight found a defense in the press.

Not sure what will come of the lawsuits Rodriguez was forced to file in an actual court, where this monkey circus would have been thrown to the curb, but if it’s the right judge, and the rock that is MLB is allowed to be lifted, oh the slugs we will find.
Here’s hoping…

© James Campion Jan 17th 2014


Mr. Campion,

This is one of your most moving columns that I will clip and hang in my home. (THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS AT 150 – Issue: 11/19/13) You should delve into this area of political history more often. Your normal combative style, while entertaining, is dwarfed by this effort. Thanx.


That was so beautifully written. It should be required reading for everyone who attends school. And I am glad we, as a family, we once shared the trip to Gettysburg together.

Well done my son.


These words of the poet Taras Shevchenko move me, as do the immortal words of Linclon.

The Testament

Dig my grave and raise my barrow
By the Dnieper-side
In Ukraina, my own land,
A fair land and wide.
I will lie and watch the cornfields,
Listen through the years
To the river voices roaring,
Roaring in my ears.
When I hear the call
Of the racing flood,
Loud with hated blood,
I will leave them all,
Fields and hills; and force my way
Right up to the Throne
Where God sits alone;
Clasp His feet and pray...
But till that day
What is God to me?
Bury me, be done with me,
Rise and break your chain,
Water your new liberty
With blood for rain.
Then, in the mighty family
Of all men that are free,
May be sometimes, very softly
You will speak of me?

Peter Saveskie

Wow. (NELSON MANDELA – 1918 – 2013 – Issue: 12/11/13) There is something poignant in the knowledge that a great man with a great cause could have come from such dark places. This honest and powerful tribute pulled no punches. It is rare that you see this level of laudatory material broach Mandela’s terrorist/communist past and speak about his one-goal travels through ideology and politics to arrive finally in an all-inclusive fight for the freedom of all the people of Africa.
One thing I was able to take away from this is that Mandela’s life is a microcosm of the American ideal – the right for every man and woman to stand tall for their rights. It should be inspiring to all of us who cherish the freedom we have and to remember that it should never be ignored for those who strive for it; here or abroad.

Kelly Ryan


Of course, I remember being one of many students who opposed apartheid while at Columbia in the early 80s, but what’s really cool is that I later met a woman who actually helped Mandela.
In 1986 or 87, after I had begun practicing Buddhism, I met a young woman named Loren Braithewaite who was my young women’s division chapter leader for years. She is African American but I think has some white in her because she’s got pretty light skin. Anyway, she had graduated from Harvard and was attending Columbia Law School. While there, she was one of a few students selected to work closely with Nelson Mandela to create the new South African Constitution. She worked in a large NYC law firm for years and then later (after her husband died), moved to South Africa to start a business and eventually became president of the Soka Gakkai-South Africa organization.

When I read your article, I thought of her because I’m wondering how she’s feeling right now but I also thought of Josei Toda, the 2nd president of the Soka Gakkai, who was very visionary and revolutionary, much like Mandela. He was an educator who had begun practicing the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin (that forms the core belief of the Soka Gakkai) in the early part of the 20th century and was imprisoned with his mentor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi - also an educator and the founder of the Soka Gakkai in Japan on November 18, 1930 – during WWII because they refused to bow to the militaristic government that required all Japanese people and religions to adopt and believe in Shinto. Where other religious leaders did, Makiguchi and Toda refused. Makiguchi, who was 74, died in prison but Toda, who was younger, survived and was eventually released at the end of the war. He singlehandedly revived the Soka Gakkai, which eventually grew to include 750,000 families by the time of his death in 1958. At the time, the Soka Gakkai was berated as being an organization for the sick and poor, but millions and millions of Japanese people who began practicing Buddhism turned their desperation, sickness and poverty around to rebuild Japan and turn it into a prosperous country.
Of course millions of people now practice in 193 countries around the world with the single-minded goal to create world peace based on individuals becoming happy and helping others to do the same, to overcome suffering. When you – or Dan (Bern) - talk about a true (nonviolent) revolutionary, Toda was another example, someone as great as Mandela though maybe not as obvious to the rest of the world...

Elizabeth Vengen esq.
James Campion is the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, “Midnight for Cinderella” and “Y”.

Last Chance Power Drive
Chris Christie: Welcome to Thunderdome - James Campion

...none of this is any good for Chris Christie if he has designs on being president of the United States, or even to continue governing N.J.

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