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April 24, 2014

Michael Pineda cheated again, and this time he got caught. In a start two weeks ago against the Red Sox, when the Yankees hurler was spotted sporting a dark substance on his palm, a substance he later claimed was dirt. No one believed him, and it was assumed he wouldn't pull the same trick again.

Yet in Pineda's very next start against Boston on Wednesday, he either tried to cheat again, or was bleeding sap:

This time, the Red Sox complained, and Pineda, naturally, got tossed.

I'm fine with Pineda getting thrown out. He was blatantly breaking the rules even after getting caught doing the same thing, and escaping punishment, once before. My issue, though, is with the response from around baseball.

The general consensus has been that it's acceptable for pitchers to use pine tar or other substances to better grip the ball in cold weather, but that they're supposed to be "discreet" about it. (Boston pitchers have been spotted with fishy smears on their gloves and arms before, too.) In other words: "Cheating is fine, just don't rub your opponent's nose in it."

The dinger-happy steroid era stigmatized baseball as a game full of cheaters. Conceding that rule-breaking is okay as long as you aren't too obvious about it undercuts the credibility MLB has since restored. If using pine tar is cheating, it's cheating no matter how secretive you are about it. And if players don't think it should be considered cheating, then get the dang rule off the books before goo-gate becomes the new PED moralizing. Jon Terbush

2:11 a.m. ET

Conservatives from Sean Hannity to Alex Jones' InfoWars are proudly annoyed that Hillary Clinton is still speaking in public, and Jordan Klepper heartily agreed with them on Wednesday's The Opposition — for the first few minutes. Then, once "the liberals" had stopped watching, he laid it out for his fellow "Opposers." "We need Hillary Clinton," Klepper said. "She's basically the whole GOP strategy for winning the midterms. Without her to crap on, our candidates have nothing to stand for. Republicans have already given up on legislating this year, and it's only April!"

And it doesn't even matter if Clinton is still making news, Klepper said. "What do we do when Hillary isn't relevant anymore? Same thing I do when my therapist tells me to stop bringing up my ex-wife: Talk about her anyway." He showed examples of how Republicans are running against Clinton this year — even though Clinton isn't running for anything — including an NRSC ad campaign in several states attacking the same Clinton footage. "Oh man, and libs say we can't recycle," he deadpanned. "Hillary is literally the only renewable resource we care about." Klepper ended with an emotional, cinematic plea for Clinton to stick around. You can watch below, or read Paul Waldman's longer, straighter version of the same argument at The Week. Peter Weber

1:35 a.m. ET
Sean Zanni/Getty Images for NARAS

When Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) abruptly resigned earlier this month, the chances he would ever repay taxpayers for the $84,000 sexual harassment settlement he reached with a staffer, as he'd promised to, shrank significantly. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has an idea for how he can fulfill his promise, kind of. On Tuesday, Abbott used emergency powers to call a special June 30 election for the House seat Farenthold vacated, citing Hurricane Harvey to skirt state and federal election laws, and on Wednesday, he asked Farenthold to pay for the election.

"While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress," Abbott wrote in a letter to Farenthold's office. "I am urging you to give those funds back to the counties in your district to cover the costs of the June 30, 2018, special election. This seat must be filled, and the counties and taxpayers in the 27th congressional district should not again pay the price for your actions."

Local election officials estimate that the special election will cost the 13 counties in the district more than $200,000, the Houston Chronicle reports. Farenthold, worth $2.4 million according to 2016 financial disclosure statements, is under no obligation to pay anything for the election or even respond to Abbott, and few analysts expect that he will. Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson called Abbott's request "strange" and "unprecedented," adding, "The governor does not expect that Farenthold is going to pay the cost."

Abbott sought and quickly received a waiver from state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to hold the emergency election for Farenthold's seat because his district was hit by Harvey and, Abbott argued, "hurricane relief efforts depend heavily on action at the federal level, which can only occur if Texans residing in disaster zones have full and effective representation in Congress." Peter Weber

12:57 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you live in the United States or Canada and have been eyeing a new Ford Fusion, get one while you can.

The company announced Wednesday that by 2020, "almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities, and commercial vehicles." Hatchbacks and sedans don't sell as well as those vehicles, and only two models will remain on the market: the Mustang and Focus Active, a new crossover-like hatchback that will debut next year.

While the Taurus and Fiesta will soon be gone, Ford said it's "exploring new 'white space' vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space, and versatility." A "white space" vehicle is one that doesn't quite fit into already established categories. Catherine Garcia

12:12 a.m. ET

When Dr. Ronny Jackson proclaimed President Trump fit as a horse, we didn't know much about the White House physician "and we didn't need to," Trevor Noah pointed out on Wednesday's Daily Show. "But once Trump nominated Jackson for a Cabinet position, people started digging into his past like he was dating Taylor Swift." He ran through the new list of allegations, starting with Jackson's "candy man" nickname, due to his alleged passing out of prescription opioids and other drugs like they were candy. Noah could see some sense in passing out Ambien on Air Force One (though not to Ben Carson).

But the accusations that Jackson drank on the job, harassed female employees, and wrecked a government car after drinking heavily with the Secret Service? "This is just shocking," Noah said. "I can't believe that between Trump's two doctors, Ronny Jackson is the one who might have a drinking problem." Lawmakers from both parties are urging Trump to reconsider Jackson's nomination, "although it is funny," he said, that "they don't care if he stays on as the president's physician."

"Even if he didn't drink, even if he didn't drive drunk, and even if he didn't overprescribe drugs, Ronny Jackson would still be far from qualified to run the VA," Noah said. "And in a way, all those senators who oppose him are lucky that these drug and alcohol allegations are coming out, because if there's one thing we know, it's that on its own, being completely unqualified for a position doesn't keep you out of Donald Trump's Cabinet." Look, we all know where this is headed, he added. "The president will have to find a new VA nominee, and knowing Trump, he's not going to search for a qualified person. He's just gonna pick another guy who says nice things about him. So I guess what I'm saying is, congratulations VA Secretary Kanye West." Peter Weber

April 25, 2018
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The newest member of President Trump's legal team, Rudy Giuliani, met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday in Washington, reopening stalled negotiations for an interview with Trump, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.

Giuliani told Mueller that Trump and his advisers are wary about an interview but there's a chance Trump could agree to it, the Post reports. He also asked Mueller when he thinks the inquiry will be finished. Mueller reportedly responded by telling Giuliani that in order to complete the part of the investigation focusing on potential obstruction of justice, he needs to interview Trump to gather more information on the transition and first few months of his presidency. Last month, John Dowd, Trump's lead outside attorney on the case, resigned. Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2018
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Embattled White House physician Ronny Jackson, President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, had a meeting Wednesday night with White House officials amid new allegations against Jackson, including that he crashed a government vehicle while drunk and handed out drugs "like candy," a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

NBC News reports that Jackson, who has denied the allegations, has grown annoyed by the process and is talking with officials about pulling his name from consideration for the position; an announcement could be made as early as Thursday. Jackson's confirmation hearing was originally set for Wednesday, but was postponed indefinitely on Monday as allegations of improper conduct started to come out. Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2018
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Wednesday, President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen told a federal judge he will assert his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself in the Stormy Daniels case, The Washington Post reports.

Daniels, who says she had an extramarital affair with Trump in 2006, was paid $130,000 by Cohen right before the 2016 presidential election, and she's suing to get out of a nondisclosure agreement she signed with him. The FBI raided Cohen's home, hotel room, and office earlier this month, and Cohen, who is requesting to pause proceedings in the case, said the agents seized electronic devices and documents containing information relating to the payment to Daniels.

Lawyers for Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organization are asking to see the material before it goes to prosecutors, and Trump's attorney said the president would be available "as needed" to review the documents. Catherine Garcia

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