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Queens Chronicle

McCarthyism in baseball

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Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:00 am

Last week curmudgeonly New York Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman wrote that he’s not sure if he’ll vote for Mike Piazza when he becomes eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, because he has suspicions Piazza may have used steroids. Never mind that no drug test has confirmed this, and that Piazza has repeatedly denied steroid use.

A key tenet of American justice is the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. Sherman clearly believes the reverse. The ghosts of ’50s witch hunters Roy Cohn and Joseph McCarthy must be cheering him on.

Sherman’s rant may also reflect frustration over the decline in importance of the Baseball Writers Association of America. It’s not headline news to report that a lot of metropolitan daily newspapers are in financial trouble. Sherman and his Daily News counterpart, Bill Madden, love to remind players and fans how they are the gatekeepers of Cooperstown, and lately have been doing that more than ever.

On March 2, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, took part in the first Billie Jean King Cup exhibition held at Madison Square Garden. When asked about the Women’s Tennis Association’s Barclays Dubai Championships debacle, in which Israeli player Shahar Peer was barred from playing by that allegedly progressive Middle East state, the participants stared at reporters stone-faced. Venus mumbled something about “everything being resolved” but had no reply when it was reiterated that Peer did not get to play. Tennis legend and Douglaston native John McEnroe declared during a TV broadcast that the WTA should have immediately canceled the tourney.

Say what you will about the World Baseball Classic, but politics have been minimized in the name of sport. Cuba is in the tournament even though the U.S. still does not have diplomatic relations with it. Even China and Taiwan put aside their differences to participate.

Memo to Mets General Manager Omar Minaya: Please stop the infatuation with Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. This is 2009, not 1999. Ramon Castro is the best backup catcher in baseball and is one of the few players in the Mets clubhouse with leadership skills. But the Mets are wise to test Citi Field before their first game there. On March 29 a Georgetown-St. John’s Big East baseball game will mark the park’s debut. The Mets might as well discover the inevitable kinks as early as possible.

Speaking of St. John’s, the New Jersey Nets will play a pre-season game on October 23 against the Philadelphia 76ers at Carnesecca Arena. Back in the early ’70s the Nets would play a few games at Alumni Hall. Of course some of the key Nets players then were SJU alumni such as Billy Paultz and Sonny Dove. The head coach was Lou Carnesecca.

Say what you will about Jamaica Estates native Donald Trump, he can maintain friendships. One of the celebrities on “The Apprentice” is football great Herschel Walker. Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals in the short-lived United States Football League in 1985. The Generals were owned by the Donald, who was hoping to use the team as leverage for entree into the NFL. It didn’t work.

Welcome to the discussion.