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Mr. Clemens Part II

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Mr. Clemens Part II

Since yesterday I’ve been obsessively reading commentary on the Congressional hearings on steroid use in baseball. Of course, I tend to seek out those stories that mesh, or expand upon, my point of view, for the purpose of self-validation, and also for clever or enlightening commentary from other writers. As a result, my coverage of coverage might be a bit skewed–but only a bit.

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A lot of people seem to agree that the hearings shouldn’t be happening to begin with, that it isn’t the business of Congress to oversee baseball players’ habits, that our government has more important things to do, and that it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money. Yes, I’m aware that Roger Clemens himself demanded the hearings in order to respond to the accusations against him. That doesn’t mean Congress had to oblige. Tommy Craggs of the NY Times sees the hearings as an extension of the wider War on Drugs, to which he’s adamantly opposed. He points to the irony of a recent Boston Globe headline: Schilling Gets Cortisone Shot. Nobody batted an eyelash, even though cortisone is in fact a steroid.

The Times asked readers to comment on whether they thought Clemens would make it into the Hall of Fame after what’s happened.
Opinions seemed fairly split on the question; my favorite comment was, “The clowns in Congress running this show deserve a place in the Idiots Hall of Fame.”

21990095.jpgMeanwhile, Brian McNamee’s lies continue to surface. One revelation concerns Yankee pitcher David Cone: McNamee claimed that part of the reason he saved Clemens’s syringes and gauze was that Cone told him baseball’s owners weren’t in favor of drug testing, but needed a valid excuse to hand to reporters. Cone was stunned to hear this. “In no way, shape or form,” he said, “did I say anything like that to anyone, much less Brian McNamee.”

Otherwise, the Washington circus got scant attention from players, coaches and managers. Yankee Shelley Duncan encapsulated this disinterest in the verbal sparring between Clemens and McNamee. “If it was a cage match between the two of them,” Duncan said, “that would be fun to watch.” The Yankees held a seven-hour organizational meeting while the hearings were on, and never once turned on the10girardi2190.jpg television. “This is the day I was looking forward to,” new manager Joe Girardi said. “I didn’t focus on the thing in Washington.”

One sharp commenter pointed out that “Republicans went after McNamee and the Democrats after Clemens.” Democrat Henry Waxman, the committee chair, demonstrated a clear preference for McNamee’s story over Clemens’s; at the conclusion of the hearings he even got nasty with Roger, who dared to interrupt him. This bipartisan breakdown matches Gwen Knapp’s observation (see yesterday’s post) of class warfare: the GOP tends to ally themselves with the, shall we say, successful moneyed class, while the Dems champion the workers of the world. Such categories, however, apply only superficially here—McNamee isn’t your stereotypical honest, salt-of-the-earth workingman, and Clemens, at the moment at least, hardly personifies the elite.

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Something I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is a detail that keeps hammering in the back of my head: Senator George Mitchell, who conducted the investigation and for whom the report is named, happens to be a director in the administrative office of the Boston Red Sox. His report names a greater number of New York Yankees as steroid users than it does Bosox players. When it first came out, its heavy New York slant—many Mets were also implicated— was said to be coincidental, a result of geography: Mitchell’s main sources were a Yankee trainer and a Mets batboy. This is just not plausible. I mean, what if judges appointed by Republicans were given the power to decide an election and they chose a Republican over….oh, yeah, that already happened.

I do not consider Mitchell an impartial investigator, and it mystifies me how anyone can. The absolute acceptance of a Red Sox employee as an objective reporter of anything concerning baseball is rather astonishing, particularly given the legendary passion and loyalty of Boston fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if, years from now, we find out that the results were skewed on purpose, and that this entire business was a vendetta conducted for the benefit of a certain team against its long-time rival. Snaring the Yankees’ best pitcher, who just happened to have come to New York via Boston (like a certain other guy once upon a time) is an absolute coup for the Red Sox. If you’ve ever watched a Boston-New York game, you know the way these guys play each other. A good word for it might be ruthless. Yes. Extremely Ruthless.baberuthpicture.jpg

P.S. If anyone runs across any great commentary, blogs or articles on this topic,  please post them in the comment box.

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