Sunday, January 06, 2008

Baseball Preview, January Edition

Roger Clemens' interview with Mike Wallace will be shown on "Sixty Minutes" tonight. I'm unlikely to watch, because I'm pretty sure I know what it'll be like. The following viewer guide reflects almost 20 years of interviews I either did with or participated in with Clemens.

DON'T expect Clemens to look shifty as he denies using steroids. The man can lie like an angel. One long ago night in Oakland, Clemens shut out the A's on three hits. Attendance, as usual, was sparse, and the sound of Roger's fastball hitting the catcher's mitt was as if somebody had set off an M-80 in the press box. After the game, Clemens, his eyes shining with innocence, said he'd thrown maybe three heaters all game long, news that reduced Mark McGwire, not known for his sense of fun, to helpless laughter.

DO expect difficulty following the discussion. Clemens' battles with coherence are legendary, but they follow a pattern. Shooting the breeze on golf, travel, or some other neutral subject, Clemens is as articulate as you, me, or the late Lord Laurence Olivier. As a topic gets nearer and dearer to Clemens' heart, his adrenaline level rises, and the listener's comprehension level sinks accordingly. Since 99.9 percent of all my discusssions with Roger were about pitching, I was usually SOL.

Tonight's interview is the most important conversation of Clemens' life. I predict complete gibberish.

It would be remiss of me, however, not to also point out that Clemens' habit of losing the English language under stress should serve him very well in any testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.


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