The Buck Stops Here

Posted on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Too much rattling around in the head for a single theme column this week, so here’s some three-dot journalism.
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I know my opinion doesn’t jibe with the Thou Shalt Not Kill commandment, but I don’t feel sorry for this guy in Oklahoma who suffered pain while being executed by lethal injection.
Years ago I was against the death penalty, but when I became a newspaper reporter and started reading the police reports of murders that weren’t moment of passion occurrences, I changed my mind.
You absolutely can’t believe the incredibly callous things people do to others in those cases.
The obvious comparison here is what Clayton Lockett went through compared to the woman he killed.
Lockett writhed and clenched his teeth on a gurney in a clinically clean room while he was dying.
His victim, Stephanie Neiman — just 19 at the time  — was shot by Lockett, who  then watched his buddies bury her alive.
What she went through pales in comparison to what Lockett was subjected to by the state of Oklahoma.
There is a good argument that life in prison is a harsher sentence for the wicked because they have to spend an inordinate amount of time caged like animals until they die.
I can buy that argument most of the time, but when a guy like Lockett murders an innocent person in the fashion he did, I believe it’s his time to die.
To not execute a heinous murderer like Lockett means other inmates and prison staff lives are endangered.
Enough said, justice rendered.
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A lot of people were shocked several ways when Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million for racial slurs.
There have been pro sports banishments before, but the fine makes it even tougher and the punitive package was way more than most expected.
There were also those who were shocked because his slurs were done in a private conversation that got leaked to a social media source.
What went unsaid was that Sterling routinely fires coaches and then refuses to pay them for what’s remaining on their contracts, forcing them to court for a possible settlement in his favor. Secondly, until recent years, Sterling routinely delivered the worst professional sports team in the country, ripping off fans with high-priced tickets for an inferior product.
So obviously there were people around the NBA waiting to pounce when Sterling made any kind of a misstep.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver showed a lot of backbone with his punishment and mollified the NBA’s majority of black men who actually play the games.
I think what Silver was really saying to the United States was that black people are sick of being treated as second-class citizens and there should be penalties for those who do so.
Don’t feel sorry for Sterling. He’ll just see this as another reason to file one of his multiple lawsuits, not as an opportunity to change America for the better.
I’m going to file this in my “rich guy can’t always do anything he wants just because of his bank account” file.
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Speaking of sports, were you as perplexed as I was when the Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta to a huge free-agent contract for four years?
First of all, the Cardinals don’t do that much anymore. They opt instead to groom young talent in their minor league system and we’ve seen the great results in recent years.
What I didn’t understand is that the Cardinals signed Peralta for his bat and to play shortstop. Peralta is a terrific major league hitter, but in the last few years he has played a lot of third base and left field because of his complete lack of range at shortstop.
Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that you have to have stellar defense at catcher and shortstop because they handle the most chances in most games.
The Cardinals don’t need another bat. They need a vacuum-cleaner type at shortstop and it doesn’t matter if he hits .210.
That’s how Ozzie Smith started out and he eventually bloomed into a decent hitter, as did Yadier Molina. Peralta will get no better at short, where his slow feet will always plague him.
While Pete Kozma was no Ozzie Smith, at least he could go get the ball in the hole and he’s still on the team. A shortstop can win a lot of games by cutting off RBI hits.
Peralta can’t do that, so please quit the “he can make all the routine plays” argument. He should, he’s being paid $13 million a year at a position that demands defensive prowess, not mediocrity.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Peralta at third and Matt Carpenter back at second soon. Maybe Kozma will be back in the lineup or Cuban shortstop phenom Aledmys Diaz will be up with the big club quicker than we think.
Or, we’ll get a real defensive shortstop by dangling some of our young pitching mired in the minors at a team that really needs it.
Peralta at short is not “the Cardinal way.”

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