Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"I must have misremembered about that whole steroid thing..."

At this point, I'd say I felt sorry for Roger Clemens... except for the fact that any man as arrogant and off-putting as Clemens has been for the past 20 years deserves every bit of scorn directed his way. It's one thing to be branded a cheat; it's another thing entirely to be known as a cheat and a liar. And Roger Clemens is making a case to be the sports world's #1 representative of both.

While I agree that Brian McNamee is not exactly the poster boy for Truth, Justice and the American Way, he simply presents the more plausible case. With George Mitchell, the Federal Government, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, and the Nanny backing all or part of his assertions, McNamee makes the best case. Clemens? Apparently the only one to speak for him is that bastion of honor, Jose Canseco. I don’t know about you, but that’s an endorsement I could live without.

So while Clemens digs himself deeper and deeper into this hole, it's fair to think that he's now sunk lower than the original poster boy for steroid use in baseball, Barry Bonds. I'd make the case that Clemens is even worse than Bonds, since Bonds was still performing at an All-Star level when he supposedly started using. Clemens, though, was in the midst of a downhill slide. Who's to say when his career may have ended had he not started "supplementing" his workouts?

But as much as Clemens shares with Bonds, there's another notorious figure whose story parallels Clemens' even more eerily. It wasn't that long ago that another icon from the baseball world, confronted by a government report and mountains of evidence, chose to wage a never-ending campaign of denial:

Jim Gray: Pete, now let me ask you. It seems as though there is an opening, the American public is very forgiving. Are you willing to show contrition, admit that you bet on baseball and make some sort of apology to that effect?

Pete Rose: Not at all, Jim. I'm not going to admit to something that didn't happen. I know you're getting tired of hearing me say that. But I appreciate the ovation. I appreciate the American fans voting me on the All-Century Team. I'm just a small part of a big deal tonight.

JG: With the overwhelming evidence in that report, why not make that step...

PR: No. This is too much of a festive night to worry about that because I don't know what evidence you're talking about. I mean, show it to me...

JG: Pete, those who will hear this tonight will say you have been your own worst enemy and continue to be. How do you respond to that?

PR: In what way are you talking about?

JG: By not acknowledging what seems to be overwhelming evidence.

As we know, it took nearly 14 years but Rose eventually emerged from his cocoon of denial: first, to admit that he bet on baseball; then to admit that he'd bet on his own team, the Reds. Who doesn't foresee Clemens’ voyage along this same road? After today's hearings, only the most-blinded Clemens loyalists can't see past the angry bluster, empty rhetoric and ridiculous lies. The day will come when Clemens, like Rose, will be forced to admit what we already know.

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