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Baseball’s Inquisition

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Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

I hate to be as single-minded and celebrity-obsessed as the rest of the sports media, but the primary cause of my lamentations is Roger Clemens.

Clemens is one of the top ten reasons I got interested in baseball in the first place. Call it charisma, call it The Right Stuff, whatever it is, The Rocket Man captured my heart with his astounding pitching performances, restrained machismo, ferocious scowls, and joyous grins. I keep meaning to write an erotic story about Roger, and I’m sure some day I will…but today is, sadly, not that day.

roger_clemens_grimace_face_2-1.jpgRoger’s the only player named in the Mitchell Report who immediately claimed innocence, and though nobody else seems to be giving him the benefit of the doubt, I am. The only evidence against him is the word of a trainer who made a deal to save his own ass.

There’s so much to say about the report that all other sports programming is literally on hold while pundits devote endless hours to its analysis. That so much of it revolves around Clemens isn’t just a symptom of whoring after celebrity: there’s a lot riding on whether or not Roger took performance enhancing drugs–his Hall of Fame status and its ramifications for others, entire World Series games, and–what could easily end up being the major fallout of the report—comparisons of how Clemens is treated versus treatment of Barry Bonds. The Race Card. Brother, when we say racism haunts every aspect of American life, it’s no exaggeration. I hate to see it happen, but it always does: race becomes the number one issue, almost to the exclusion of all else. It’s America’s eternal tragedy. It’s the legacy of slavery.

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My gut feeling on the Mitchell Report is that it’s absurdly incomplete. Because it’s based almost entirely on information gathered from two sewer rats–a bat boy for the Mets and a trainer for the Yankees—the list of specifically named players leans eastward. Mitchell himself serves on the Board of the Boston Red Sox, yet he’s been praised for fairness and objectivity. (!?) Almost an entire Yankee team, the winner of three World Series championships, has now come under scrutiny—but as Buster Olney pointed out on Mike and Mike in the Morning, we don’t know what kinds of substances the players on the opposing teams were taking. We don’t know which designer drugs the batters Clemens pitched to were on. If we’re going to put asterisks next to names, some say we should asterisk the whole era from 1980 to the present, when far more than the 86 players named in the Mitchell Report were running on ‘roids.

I’m consoling myself with thoughts about who was not named: Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera. Bernie Williams. Barry Zito. Jorge Posada—that last name wouldda knocked me dead for sure.

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Having Googled it last night, I’m aware that millions of bloggers are posting about the Mitchell Report, and I just wanted to put in my own half a cent. ‘Tis a sad day for baseball, friends, a sad sad day indeed.

Click here for an opinion on “Innocent Til Proven Guilty.”

For another Yankee perspective, click here.

And just for fun, click here.

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Roger Clemens and sons

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One response »

  1. Yeah, I agree with you on some of this stuff. The circumstantial evidence on Roger is pretty convincing, especially now that Pettite admits that the trainer’s testimony implicating him is completely accurate.

    This is a tough one for parents. This year I took my daughter to her first game at Fenway Park; Beckett was pitching, and Brian Roberts hit a home run off him, and Tejada had three hits. She’s having a hard time getting her head around people cheating.

    My feeling is that there is plenty of blame to go around; nearly all of it is rooted in good old American greed. The Owners, who put Fay Vincent out to pasture and replaced him with a fellow owner, Bud Selig, whose agenda differed not a whit from the Commissioner’s Office- put the behinds in the seats, and close your eyes to anything that might interfere with that.
    The Union, who has repeatedly demonstrated that it will do everything in its power to protect the superstars, for sacrificing the credibility of a generation of baseball so that the top 20% of players could make 80% of the money available- forcing the remaining 80% to choose between steroids that might lead to a bigger payday, or knowing that they were competing with people who were juiced and had an advantage over them. The players, who are ducking and dodging behind every loophole- “I didn’t know it was a steroid; when I took HGH it was legal; my buddy gave it to me…” Notice that none of these players went to the team physicians to discuss whether using steroids or HGH was a wise decision.

    My solution would have been this.Give Mitchell full subpoena power. Contact every current player, everyone who has played for the last 15 years, and ask them to answer one question, under oath, without knowing what you might have on them:”Are you currently, or have you ever used HGH or steroids during your professional career?”…For every “yes”, I’d put an asterisk into the record book next to their name…to mean “here are the numbers…they were a result of chemical enhancement…”
    Then let the Hall of Fame balloteers sort it out.

    As for Roger, I am a little surprised, but actually, when you look at his career, it makes a lot of circumstantial sense for him to have done it at the times he did.

    Bruce

    Thanks for the comments. Not sure I agree with everything you said, particularly the phrasing of the question to the players–sounds too much like McCarthy asking about Communism. I must concede that Roger is probably culpable. What you say about his career, though, sounds about right.–MS

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