That made Barrett laugh, but Sasse’s comments soon took a sharp turn, if not at the judge’s expense.
“I want to talk about the Houston Astros who are wretched scammers,” Sasse said.
After Sasse pointed out that two Texas Senators, John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R), were also on the committee and were present at the hearing, he said, “I think all baseball fans know that Houston Astros is cheating. ”
“They steal signs, they hit cans,” he continued. “They’ve done a number of miserable things historically, and they probably deserve to be punished more than they have before.”
Sasse was referring to the results of an investigation published in January by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. He described an illegal sign-stealing program that Astros players ran in 2017 – when they ended their season with a World Series title – and through the 2018 season. Manfred punished the organization of Astros and in particular manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow who were quickly sacked but no players were punished.
Before Sasse got too far into his denigration of the Astros, who were scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Rays later that day in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Cornyn stepped in on behalf of his state’s competitor to play this year’s World Series.
“Thankfully, the first amendment protects that right for him to express this wrong opinion,” he said of Sasse.
“If you want to defend fraud, that is surely the Senator’s prerogative,” Sasse replied with a smile. Then he referred to Cruz and said, “And the junior senator from Texas is now rushing into the room to do some homerism.”
“It went so well,” interjected Senator Lindsay Graham (RS.C.), who chaired the hearing as chairman of the committee.
Sasse went on, getting closer to the real point he wanted to make on attempts by Democratic Senators who do not have the votes to stop the affirmation to leave Barrett on the spot with questions about decisions she might be able to make bring as abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.
After Houston lost 3-0 to Tampa Bay and was close to being knocked out, Sasse noted that if the Astros lost on Wednesday, they were “done”.
“It makes people feel desperate at times,” he continued. “There are times when you have a game that is your elimination game. You can imagine that people want to rethink everything they can rethink. The ends could justify the means.
“And you can imagine that the Houston Astros, who have cheated in many ways by stealing signs in the past, might try tonight to go to the referee and persuade someone to widen the strike zone just for Houston. ”
“That would be inappropriate, of course, wouldn’t it? We can’t have two rules, ”Sasse said to Barrett, who said yes.
“I think a referee should apply rules fairly to both teams,” said Sasse. “I think some of the questions we’ve seen in the questions over the last three days are trying to get a referee to commit to different rules for different teams.”
Towards the end of his time, Sasse returned to the baseball metaphor.
“It doesn’t matter to correct all the flaws in society, it doesn’t matter to be a political lawyer, and I think you have behaved extraordinarily well over the past three days,” Sasse said, “as she repeats have done.” I have asked to be an arbitrator who anticipates certain cases and it is not your job to do so until the reactive moment when you are actually on trial. ”
That could have been the end of the Astros conversation when Graham began moving the process forward. But Cruz made it clear that he wasn’t quite ready to let it pass without his say.
Cruz claimed that he was “attempting a parliamentary investigation” into a possible rule violation committed by Sasse with his “unjustified broadside”.
“But I decided against it when I realized that Nebraska doesn’t have a professional baseball team and sometimes it doesn’t always have a winning football team,” said Cruz while Sasse smiled. “So I consider it a request for help rather than an essential point, and I will say that the rest of the senator from Nebraska’s questions and speaking with Judge Barrett was, in my opinion, an excellent and wonderful civic education for all Americans.
“In my opinion, the bizarre lies about the Astros should be struck off the record and forgotten by everyone.”
Sasse then announced to Graham that he would later ask for unanimous consent to submit “some historical information” about the Astros for the record.
“Will you include a photo of the World Series trophy?” Cruz asked.
“I think there is an asterisk above the trophy,” replied Sasse.