Bradley said Notre Dame’s legal position rests on the belief that the new health care law imposes a burden on the University and results in a moral dilemma. The issue might be simpler if it was just a matter of contraceptives, he said, but some of the approved treatments have been found to act as abortifacients. The Professors for Lunch series hosted a panel discussion of religious liberty and the University’s lawsuit in response to the Obama administration’s healthcare mandate Friday afternoon in North Dining Hall. She said no matter what the result of the lawsuit is, Catholics will continue to decide for themselves whether or not to use contraceptives. “With either type of health care system, religious liberty would no longer be an issue,” he said. Theology professor Ann Astell, theology professor Mary D’Angelo, law professor Gerard Bradley and history professor Mark Noll participated in the panel titled, “Why is Notre Dame suing the Obama administration to protect religious freedom? And should it be doing so?” Astell said she agreed with the University’s decision to file a suit in defense of religious freedom. Bradley said the government must recognize that maintaining the religious freedom of Notre Dame and other Catholic institutions affects more than just those institutions. The University is not legally required to prove that the Catholic position against contraceptives is objectively or definitively true, he said. Astell said this difference between a Catholic and public hospital applies to all Catholic institutions. She said the difference is threatened by the new health care regulations. “The supposed good to be gained from giving free contraceptives as preventative care in this particular way, when other methods are available, has to be weighed against the resulting loss of religious freedom,” Astell said. “The issue is not about the right of individuals to use contraceptives, but rather about Notre Dame’s right to stand on Church teaching.” Noll said Notre Dame and other Catholic institutions would be helped by their history of defending religious liberty in general. “When the University filed its suit, it acted courageously and prophetically on its own behalf and on behalf of other religious institutions,” she said. She said the difference between formal and material cooperation is important in this case. Formal cooperation is remote and indirect, while material cooperation is direct and purposeful, she said. “Litigants with a history of helping other groups maintain religious liberty have a better chance of success in this case,” Noll said. “Religious liberty is a common good,” he said. She said conscience takes precedence over Church teaching and Catholics must accept the Church’s position for it to truly become doctrine. But many individual Catholics have not accepted the prohibition on contraceptives. “Among Notre Dame’s responsibilities as a prominent Catholic institution is to bear itself as a conspicuous model of Catholic morality,” Bradley said. “Catholics must and will continue to follow the dictates of their conscience,” she said. Bradley said there are two problems with the way the government has viewed religious freedom in this case. He said a company, which petitioned for an exemption because it incorporates Catholic values into its business practices, was told that it is a secular business and thus its practices are not considered religious. Notre Dame has a greater responsibility than an individual Catholic in terms of abiding by Church teaching, since many look to it as a model of Catholic values, he said. “The constitutional framework is murky,” he said. “Starting in the 1920s and ’30s the reach of government went beyond anything conceived of at the time of the Constitution’s drafting.” The United States should adopt a universal health care system modeled after either that of Germany or Canada, Noll said, as this would eliminate religious liberty concerns. D’Angelo said it is important to acknowledge that Notre Dame and the other Catholic institutions that have joined the suit are in the minority of all Catholic institutions in the country. “Looking at this case, this body of law, there are two alarming understandings of religious liberty: that Catholic businesses cannot have religious practices and that to be a religious institution, the purpose of an institution must be the inculcation of religious values,” he said. Astell said Martin Luther King Jr. requested that his aids bring him to a Catholic hospital if anything ever happened to him and they did so on the day of his assassination. The United States of America has a long history of protecting religious freedom and that this tradition is now at risk, she said. Institutions will still be remote from the use of contraceptives if they comply with the provision, D’Angelo said. The effect of the provision is simply to move the cost of contraceptives from one part of an employee’s compensation to another – from salary to benefits. Astell said the proper way to approach the issue is to weigh the benefits of the provision requiring employers to provide free contraceptives in their health plans against the cost of compliance. Noll said it is difficult to determine this issue based on the constitution because the constitution’s framers had no way of anticipating our modern society. “Paying for contraceptives can be problematic for those at the bottom of the pay scale,” she said. A more general healthcare system is needed in America instead of employers providing health insurance, Noll said. This would prevent issues of religious liberty from arising. Noll said the fact that we have not moved to such a system is a failure of our government to provide for the health of its citizens. “If one presidential administration can infringe on this aspect of religious freedom, what stops another administration from further infringing on this First Amendment right?” she said. He said the exemption to the contraceptive provision granted to churches does not extend to Catholic schools or hospitals because there purpose is not the inculcation of religious values. “The law provides for all FDA-approved contraceptives and some of these can act as abortifacients,” Bradley said. “The University can’t just accept the purely contraceptive treatments. The contraceptives and abortifacients are a package.” D’Angelo said making the cost of contraceptives part of an employee’s benefits as opposed to the money coming from the employee’s salary makes a difference for some employees.
Editor’s note: This is the Monday, June 10 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your in-box. Sign up here.By the end of April, handsome people were comparing Cody Bellinger to a freakish combination of peak Barry Bonds, peak Babe Ruth and peak Ichiro. Bellinger had earned it. He was that good then, and he was still batting .400 as recently as May 21.As always happens, baseball players don’t hit .400 for entire seasons. In Bellinger’s case, his batting average has plummeted 49 percentage points (to .355), and his on-base plus slugging percentage by 129 (to 1.142), in the 16 games he’s played since May 21. It’s plausible to suggest that a .355 batting average and 1.142 OPS reflect Bellinger’s true talent level. In other words, his stats were due to regress at some point this season. Now is that point.Regression can happen for a variety of reasons. Though I could be wrong, I don’t believe Bellinger is injured. His right shoulder became separated in the midst of his hot streak and, after a day off, he picked up swinging close to where he left off. We know Bellinger is being pitched differently. I wanted to use this newsletter to examine how, and how the new approach is affecting him. To attack Bellinger differently, pitchers didn’t settle on a singular plan. They’ve chosen several smaller plans of attack, with varying success. For right-handers, that means not being afraid to pitch Bellinger backwards. Using May 22 (the day Bellinger’s average fell below .400 for good) as our before/after date, here’s what that looks like (data via Brooks Baseball):Hard pitches, ahead in count Before: 47% After: 58%Hard pitches, behind in count Before: 59% After: 54%Breaking pitches, ahead in count Before: 22% After: 24%Breaking pitches, behind in count Before: 14% After: 24% Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error There’s an obvious if not terribly dramatic change there. Perhaps the single biggest shift in the kinds of pitches Bellinger is getting from right-handers is this (data via Statcast):Sinkers/sliders, all counts Before: 9.1% After: 34.2%4-seam fastballs, all counts Before: 37.2% After: 29.2%2-seam fastballs, all counts Before: 9.4% After: 8.4%Bellinger was hitting .412 and slugging .725 against right-handed fastballs on May 21. Sinkers and sliders tend to have the same action, diving down and in toward a left-handed hitter. If anything, one wonders what took right-handed pitchers so long to stop throwing Bellinger so many fastballs and take a more backwards approach. It’s working, predictably, and now Bellinger must adjust his expectations against righties.What about left-handers?Hard pitches, ahead in count Before: 63% After: 56%Hard pitches, behind in count Before: 72% After: 60%Breaking balls, ahead in count Before: 35% After: 36%Breaking balls, behind in count Before: 18% After: 29%Hard pitches, two strikes Before: 62% After: 42%Breaking balls, two strikes Before: 31% After: 46%In short: left-handers are throwing Bellinger more breaking balls – especially when they’re behind in the count and with two strikes. I included the change in 2-strike approach in the table above because it’s changed so dramatically. (Right-handers haven’t changed their 2-strike approach to Bellinger since May 21, at least not in such broad pitch selection terms).Left-handers are generally showing Bellinger more sinkers and sliders too (about 5 percent more) and fewer fastballs (about 4 percent less). But the biggest difference in how lefties are pitching Bellinger occurs when the count gets to two strikes. Here’s the funny part about that: Bellinger’s actually adapted well to the change. His expected weighted on-base average in two-strike counts against lefties rose from .254 to .380 after May 21, while his actual wOBA has been steady (.282 compared to .284). So what’s going on?Anecdotally, I feel like Bellinger hit balls into a shift for outs at a much higher rate recently. Indeed, Statcast tells us that defenses began deploying a fourth outfielder (defined as four fielders stationed 220 feet from home plate) after May 21. Bellinger has only one hit in these situations. Teams have always shifted their infielders (three to the right side) against Bellinger. My hunch is that teams are simply shifting him better now, especially with two strikes. Statcast doesn’t let us measure defensive alignment with enough sophistication to conclude that definitively, so for now the anecdotal evidence will have to stand. I’ll try to bounce it off the Dodgers’ coaches this week.Bellinger’s plate discipline hasn’t wavered much during his slump. His walk-to-strikeout ratio has improved somewhat since May 21 against lefties (0.9 to 1.3), and fallen slightly against righties (1.1 to 0.9). Bellinger’s regression seems to be more a function of three things: 1, how he’s being pitched; 2, what he does with those pitches when he puts them in play; 3, how defenses are positioning him.Perhaps those are things that Bellinger can adapt to. Dave Roberts usually frames a hitter’s success or failure in terms of swinging at pitches in the strike zone and laying off pitches outside the zone, but Bellinger’s still-healthy walk rate suggests that might not be the case here. In any event, the onus is on him to adjust to how he’s being pitched, and for us to remember just how hard it is to maintain the frenetic pace Bellinger kept until just a couple weeks ago.-J.P.Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Monday, June 10 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your in-box. Sign up here.Today’s links‘Get it out of the ocean’ – Max Muncy plopped a Madison Bumgarner mistake in San Francisco Bay, and the Dodgers beat the Giants 1-0.Responsible capitalism – There’s a T-shirt for everything, including Muncy’s famous postgame quip.A touch of drama – Bellinger is still on pace for double-digit WAR, but so is Christian Yelich.Speaking of pitching backwards – In a fastball-heavy bullpen, Joe Kelly is finding success with his secondary pitches.Another one in the books – The Dodgers reportedly signed their third-round draft pick, Ryan Pepiot.G.O.A.T. of arms – Behind the success of the Dodgers’ starting pitchers lies a collaborative camaraderie: “We have the freedom to be as creative as we want.”Papi progressing – David Ortiz was cleared to travel less than one day after he was shot in the back in the Dominican Republic.