Thursday, February 14, 2008

I am a Roger Clemens denier.

In watching Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee go back and forth with the steroid allegations yesterday in front of the senate committee, I couldn't help but be reminded of a few things. First of all, this Mitchell report. This has seemed like a witch hunt from day one. I would be loath to compare it to McCarthyism, because it is clearly based in fact and not wild allegations, but come on. If every single player in baseball was on the juice - and can anyone name me a player who is definitively clean? Anywhere in the game? Then just forget it. Why drag out specific names and target them, when the entire game is totally screwed. Frankly, if Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire are on the juice, who cares? This is my new opinion. If Clemens is facing juiced-up batters, and is on the juice himself, isn't that the same level playing field it was in 1986 when no one was on steroids and Clemens was becoming the greatest pitcher of his generation? Possibly ever? If Bonds is hitting 73 home runs off steroid-fueled pitchers, who cares? Level playing field, no? I want to say lay off, Mitchell. Let baseball police itself.

But then, of course, baseball does not police itself. John Rocker, who is a fairly despicable human being, recently said in a radio interview that Commissioner Bud Selig was fully aware that Rocker and others were juicing, and did nothing, sweeping it under the carpet as best he could. Not that John Rocker is the most credible witness, but then Jose Canseco wasn't either, was he? And wasn't he proved right in every case? I dislike Rocker, but I believe him. There had to be some kind of conspiracy of silence from the top down to keep this rampant epidemic quiet for so long. And, as such, who is really to blame? The upper management in baseball - commissioners and owners - who turned a blind eye, and in many cases (according to the likes of Rocker and Canseco) actively instructed their players in ways to take steroids and beat the tests? Or the players who bought into the system, and felt as though they had no other choice but to do what everyone else was doing? I'm sure for many of them it was either use the juice, or get out of the majors. It's a horrible situation, and I'm sure that some players (whoever they may be) rose above the whole thing, refused to take steroids, and made it anyway. But I'm not holding my breath.

So now I'm watching the McNamee - Clemens clash, and I start to be reminded of something else. Obfuscation. The technique used to such brilliant effect by George Bush's administration, among others. For example: Climate change deniers. They can't win through facts, because climate change and global warming are facts. They are real. There is no real way to argue against them directly. So the best thing to do, if you want to convince people it doesn't exist, is to confuse the situation. Muddy the waters. Then at least people are not sure what is happening. And unsure people are better than people who are convinced of the thing against which you are fighting. Clemens is doing exactly this. He calls McNamee on the phone, and at no point in the conversation does anything happen that would convince people one way or the other about Clemens' guilt. Or innocence, for that matter. So Clemens, who has taped the phone call, airs it publicly. For what? Look - we had a whole phone conversation and at no point was I incriminated. OK if McNamee had sent him a postcard from his vacation in Florida, and had NOT said "remember when I injected you with steroids?" then he would have made that public too?

When it comes right down to it, why would McNamee lie? That's my big question. I certainly know why Roger Clemens would lie. That's obvious. And Barry Bonds responded to the steroid allegations the exact same way. Only a little less publicly. Yet he is completely convicted in the court of public opinion, yet Clemens' public fate hangs in the air still. Why? Because Clemens is more likeable? More of an icon? Probably. But why would McNamee make this up? Like I said before, this is a different kind of witch hunt than McCarthyism. I suspect that no one approached Clemens' trainer and said "finger Clemens or we'll get you". McNamee had to tell the truth to avoid jail, and had, it appears, no motivation whatsoever to lie about it. So come on Clemens. I would have had much more respect for this man had he come clean and said "yeah. I did this. I took HGH and steroids and I did it because every single other player out there was doing the same. It was the only way to compete at that time." Because in the end, who cares any more? The legacy of every single ball player in the major leagues is now tainted whether he likes it or not, and their usefulness as role models for children extends only to the point where the steroids begin.

So now what? Clemens says his wife - his WIFE used HGH. For what - growing a better moustache? How strange. And Andy Pettite, fellow Cy Young winner and training partner of Clemens, signs a sworn affidavit that says that Clemens did tell him that he had used HGH. (Human Growth Hormone - which works slower but is slightly safer than Bovine Growth Hormone.) Clemens says that Pettite misremembers. This is what I hope most of all. Well, first that this whole messy charade ends soon. And second, that "misremembers" will become an official word in the English language within five years. At least that way Roger Clemens will have contributed something to our culture that cannot later be tainted with allegations or asterisks. I used to know what drugs to take to increase my word power, but I seem to misremember now.

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