Arizona tortured a man last night

The Eighth Amendment seems straightforward enough:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

U.S. Const. amend. VIII. Arizona ran afoul of that basic standard last night when it executed Joseph Rudolph Wood. The execution took almost two hours:

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

* * *

An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution saw Wood start gasping shortly after a sedative and a pain killer were injected into his veins. He gasped more than 600 times over the next hour and 40 minutes.

I abhor the death penalty for moral reasons as well as practical ones. That’s a discussion for a different time. Still, if we’re going to do it, can we at least not torture the guy? Is that too much to ask?

In a related vein, I’m for public executions for as long as we have the death penalty. We the public need to bear witness to the acts being done in our name. Instead, States go out of their way to shield us from the final act of “justice.” Here’s a suggestion: if we cannot stomach the acts done on our behalf, we shouldn’t ask the State to do them.


Are left-handed pull hitters a protected class?

Tom Verducci contends MLB should consider outlawing defensive shifts. Verducci bases most of his arguments on how the trend towards extreme defensive shifting has adversely affected left handed sluggers such as David Ortiz and Chris Davis. It’s an interesting read but the idea is fatally flawed. Some thoughts:

1. Much of Verducci’s argument relies on the down seasons suffered by LH pull hitters. Many of the hitters cited by Verducci are on the wrong side of 30 years old, including Ortiz, Brian McCann, Adam Dunn, and Ryan Howard. Verducci doesn’t adequately account for the potential effects of aging and/or injuries on player performance.

2. How did Ted Williams and Barry Bonds fare against the shift?

3. The players could force defenses to be honest. A hitter can try to go the other way and take what the defense give you. Defenses would have to consider playing a LH pull straight away if the hitter gets some cheap singles (bunting or not) going to the left side, right?

4. Why should LH pull hitters get such special treatment in the rules?