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Red Sox senior adviser Bill James comes to the defense of Joe Paterno

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 15, 2012 09:30 AM

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Bill James, who works for the Red Sox as a senior adviser in the baseball operations department, is making news outside of baseball.

James has engaged in a vigorous defense of Joe Paterno's actions in the wake of the release of the Freeh Report.

It appears that James first made his opinions known on his own web site during a Q&A session.

James then did an interview with ESPN Radio and blamed the media for the Jerry Sandusky cover-up at Penn State. The host, Doug Gottlieb, was incredulous.

The Big Lead transcribed some of the comments.

Among James' comments, first on the notion Paterno did not act appropriately when informed of allegations against Sandusky:

"It's very hard, in fact I think it's impossible, to explain why Paterno should have been the first to go to police. ... [Paterno] knew less about it than everybody else there.

On the extent of Paterno's power at Penn State:

"[The thought that] everything revolves around [Paterno] is total nonsense. He had very few allies. He was isolated. He was not nearly as powerful as people imagine him to have been."

On the media's role in the story:

“Paterno is one of the very few people who saw Sandusky and saw a coach who wasn’t doing a job anymore, rather than a hero … people who are responsible for it are the media. The media created this smokescreen behind which Sandusky operated, and then they’re trying to blame Paterno.”

Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk has a well-considered take on the issue.

James, the father of baseball's statistical revolution, has worked for the Red Sox since 2002 and has a biography in the team's media guide along with other high-ranking executives. According to the bio, James "works with senior management and baseball operations group to provide research and analysis of special projects, player contracts and on-going concerns."

James has not spoken as a member of the Red Sox and is voicing only an opinion about the legalities of the issue. By no means has he defended Sandusky or overlooked the severity of the crimes.

But the image-conscious Red Sox can't be too pleased with one of their prominent employees putting himself in the middle of this issue, particularly given the team's own sordid history in a case involving a clubhouse employee.

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