Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash

An irregular blip in the news cycle sees Major League Baseball dominating headlines in the sports world in the middle of winter.

We are approaching that time when players report for Spring Training in warmer climates across the country, but professional baseball is already in the hot seat. In November The Athletic originally broke the story of how the Houston Astros organization had devised and executed an elaborate sign-stealing scheme throughout the 2017 season, which ended with the Astros winning the World Series. Mike Fiers, then a pitcher with the club, confirmed the cheating both in the regular and postseason by using center field cameras to provide real-time feeds to the team's dugout, which allowed them to relay messages to hitters that tipped what pitches were coming.

Major League Baseball's Commissioner, Rob Manfred, had implemented rule changes prior to the start of the 2019 season, as it became known amongst league officials that as many as six teams were potentially using technology to relay signals to their players. The MLB made it very clear that this use of tech wouldn't be allowed under the new rules and that managers and general managers would be held accountable for compliance. On Thursday new, yet unsubstantiated, information came out regarding the Houston Astros' use of "buzzers" that acted as alternative signals for hitters instead of the old method of trash can banging. Photos of what looks like a small device protruding from underneath Jose Altuve's jersey have been circulating across social media platforms, along with plenty of angry takes from MLB players and fans.

The aftermath has brought sweeping punishment for the organization and those associated with it since 2017. A.J. Hinch (manager) and Jeff Luhnow (general manager) of the Houston organization were both fired on January 13, but the scandal's reach wasn't limited to the Astros team. Alex Cora, who was a bench coach with the Astros in 2017, took the role of manager with the Boston Red Sox in 2018 and went on to win a World Series title in his first season with the club. Carlos Beltran played with the Astros in 2017 and just this offseason accepted the role of manager with the New York Mets. Both Cora and Beltran have been relieved of their duties, as well.

The Houston Astros have also had major penalties levied against them, which includes loss of draft picks, the maximum fine of $5 million, and one-year suspensions for both Hinch and Luhnow. The club is currently scrambling to find replacements for them just a few months before the start of the regular season. The Astros players will certainly–and deservedly–receive plenty of criticism, if not hatred, from opposing fans and maybe even opposing players.

Major League Baseball has had many scandals and instances of cheating throughout its history, dating all the way back to 1877 with the Louisville Grays, when some players were found to be intentionally losing games for personal profit. Most recently, the steroid era of baseball has resulted in mandated tests of players for performance-enhancing drugs. Many of the games' greatest historical players have been prevented from being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, including Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Roger Clemens.

And then there's Pete Rose.

Rose, Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader, accepted a voluntary lifetime ban from professional baseball on August 24, 1989, for his role in placing bets on his team during his time as the Cincinnati Reds' manager. In his autobiography, My Prison Without Bars, Rose did finally admit to placing bets during that time but only on his team to win. Rose is famously quoted as saying, "I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball," and he played like it, too.

Now he's asked to be reinstated. In a 19-page letter submitted to Rob Manfred, Rose's lawyer makes his case:

"[I]n recent years, intentional and covert acts by current and past owners, managers, coaches, and players altered the outcomes of numerous games, including the World Series, and illegally enhanced both team and player performance," the letter reads. "It has never been suggested, let alone established, that any of Mr. Rose's actions influenced the outcome of any game or the performance of any player. Yet for the thirty-first year and counting, he continues to suffer a punishment vastly disproportionate to those who have done just that.

"Given the manner in which Major League Baseball has treated and continues to treat other egregious assaults on the integrity of the game, Mr. Rose's ongoing punishment is no longer justifiable as a proportional response to his transgressions."

For as much as professional baseball has gotten wrong since its inception, they have a chance to do something right and induct Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame. Last June, Rose told Stuart Varney that he didn't believe that he would ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame while he was alive.

While this is probably still true, baseball could stand some good publicity right now, with current stars embroiled in a widespread cheating scandal. If anything, the flagrant cheating executed by the Astros highlights that it's high time to forgive Rose for his minor indiscretion. If Rob Manfred were to announce the removal of Pete Rose's lifetime ban, it could result in the board of directors of the Baseball Hall of Fame to change their stance on Rose's ban. As Pete Rose approaches 79-years-old, time is running out for him to experience the honor that has been withheld from him as one of baseball's greatest players.

Baseball fans are typically traditionalists and protective over the sanctity of the sport. As Terrance Mann told Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams, "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball." But the sad progression of how players and managers desperately gain competitive advantages have blackened the eyes of baseball for the better part of its existence. The national pastime was once held sacred, and every young kid dreamed of stepping up to the plate in Game 7 of the World Series with the bases loaded, their team down by 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning. But none of them envisioned hitting that game-winning grand slam with the help of cheating.

Julia Rose


On Sunday, Julia Rose and Lauren Summer—which are definitely their real names—made headlines when they flashed their breasts during the live broadcast of game 5 of the World Series.

While they didn't get quite as much attention as certain other attendees, they got enough to earn themselves lifetime bans from MLB events.

As far as I'm concerned, that's all great. Nudity is wonderful, being proud of your body is wonderful, and being an agent of chaos on live TV is among the best uses of anyone's time. But as it turns out, these women had much higher ideals in mind when they showed the world their breasts. They were apparently raising awareness for breast cancer, which, in case you weren't aware, is a type of cancer that occurs in the breast tissue and predominantly affects women. You probably hadn't heard of it before, because this is pretty much the first attempt at getting the word out—and there is no reason to think that awareness campaigns are the wrong approach entirely—but now that these women pulled up their tops at the World Series, you're finally aware, and you have the tools to contribute to prevention and treatment.

Oh, and they were also protesting the double standard that treats women's chests as fundamentally sexual objects, that need to be censored, while men are free to have their torsos exposed to the world without shame or fanfare. It's a fair point and the focus of the Free the Nipple campaign, which Julia Rose connects to their efforts. You can tell that this issue is particularly dear to these women because of the consistent effort they put into desexualizing their breasts. Almost every picture on their respective social media accounts practically screams, "It's just a chest, people! Get over it!"

Oh, and I almost forgot that they are also promoting Rose's digital magazine, SHAGMAG, which promises "SEX, BOOBS, SPORTS, UPCOMING ARTISTS & ENTREPRENEURS and a bunch of other fun surprises" and which Rose promotes as "the Millennial Playboy." It certainly sounds like the sort of place where you would find thoughtful discussion of feminist theory and women's issues.

Rose's mission statement puts it succinctly: "I wanted to create a (?)place that was fun but one that still had meaning. There is nothing wrong with sex and nudity, and wanting more of it but I definitely think our generation needs more of a voice. There are all these beautiful instagram models but who are they really? Who are the upcoming innovators and creators, and what the actual f*ck is going on in the world? So many questions and now there is an answer: SHAGMAG."

So… seriously? Obviously sex sells, and it's a recognized feature of our society that attractive young women can make solid careers out of selling it. If that's what they want to do, there's nothing to stop them, and there are some serious feminist arguments to be made for finding empowerment in the embrace of sexuality. But what does this half-assed veneer of selfless motives do for anyone?

Is your audience drawn in by the promise that SHAGMAG will explain "what the actual f*ck is going on in the world?" Or do they just want to look at some naked women? The entire business model is based on teasing at the edges of Instagram's nudity policy, so they can offer "exclusive and uncensored content" behind a paywall. So why bother appropriating Free the Nipple as your purpose—or breast cancer, for that matter—unless your goal is specifically to undermine the people who take these causes seriously?

As usual, the answer is probably to get people like me to write about it, and people like you to read about it, and it's clearly working well. Rose claims that SHAGMAG has already received $10,000 in new subscriptions, and she's planning future topless stunts.

Somehow it seems doubtful that any of that money is going to breast cancer research, but wouldn't it at least be nice if the shame of exploiting a good cause outweighed the temptation to draw in that extra attention? With that said, if you really want to pay a monthly fee to see an Instagram model naked, please consider any of the thousands of others who won't pretend they're being activists.


Sorry Joe Scarborough, Holding Criminals Accountable Is Exactly What Americans Do

"We are Americans, and we do not do that." Uh, yeah Joe, we do.

joe scarborough

Alexandra Buxbaum/Shutterstock

After making an appearance at Game 5 of the World Series, Donald Trump got an unexpected surprise–he learned that pretty much everybody at the game hated him.

In a karmic callback to the "lock her up!" chants that continue to arise at every Trump rally in reference to Hillary Clinton, baseball fans gleefully chanted "lock him up!" as soon as Donald Trump showed up on the jumbotron. (As an aside, Clinton was fully investigated by the State Department for using a private email, and while investigators agreed that her online behavior was not necessarily safe, they found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information." Trump's family has done the exact same thing while working in the US government, which seems ridiculously hypocritical, but what else is new?)

Here's Trump being publicly jeered during America's favorite pastime:

And here's his face after realizing what's happening. Hilarious:

While everyone who isn't an absolute troglodyte is fine with the American people voicing their disdain for an international mobster and 25-times-accused, alleged-but-pretty-much-self-admitted sex offender occupying the highest political office in the country, one bespectacled termite held tight to his pearls.

MSNBC Morning Joe host, Joe Scarborough––a man who has built a career on his inability to distinguish between a fencepost and a chair––had this to say:

"We are Americans, and we do not do that. We do not want the world hearing us chant 'Lock him up' to this president or to any president."

Except, here's the thing, Joe: Yeah. We really do do that.

The rest of the world needs to know that the majority of the American people reject Donald Trump. Currently, 54.6% of Americans disapprove of Donald Trump (40.6% approve and the rest, presumably, are in a collective coma). Over half the country currently supports opening an impeachment inquiry. And, while it's been said ad nauseum, it always bears repeating: Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. In short, Trump might represent America as a landmass, but he does not represent the will of the majority American populace.

In America, we should want criminals to be held accountable regardless of whether or not they are the President. We should want criminals held accountable regardless of whether or not they are Democrats or Republicans, or if we agree with their personal views. In the United States, nobody should be above the law. Especially if they're the President.

So, sorry Joe, but you're very, very wrong. Reach way up into your butt and pry out that fence post before it pierces an organ. The American people are speaking, and it's time to listen. Lock him up.