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’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.
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.
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.