Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vengeance Is Ours, Saith the Scribes

Opinion among sports commentators, especially baseball commentators, is unanimous. They are very, very disappointed in and angry with the U.S. Department of Justice. It's the prosecution's fault that a jury decided Roger Clemens wasn't guilty of perjury when he told Congress he never used performance-enhancing drugs. There's no other possible explanation.

It couldn't be because the jury believed Clemens instead of his accusers, and more to the point, instead of all the sports commentators who've said they know Clemens was guilty. That's unpossible.Why? Because and shut up, that's why!

Just heard Kevin Blackistone on ESPN say "Clemens lost the trial in the court of public opinion." By which Kevin, a good fellow, meant of course "my opinion." That juries are members of the public seemed to escape him.

That perjury is a charge where legal technicalities don't come into play too much escaped everybody I heard. It's simply a judgment call on credibility by twelve good citizens and true. Whatever it thought about what happened or didn't, this jury believed Clemens more than it did his principal accuser Brian McNamee. Is it too much to suggest that maybe this point of view has some merit? They're the ones who had to spend two months of their lives on this petty, vindictive, insane waste of the ineffable energy (not to mention of money it ain't got) of the Republic.

Once again, we see the overcompensation of the baseball journalism community for having basically ignored or refused to admit the prevalence of PEDs in the 1990s. It's the guys who slobbered over Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa the most in 1998 who lead the lynch mobs for Clemens, Barry Bonds, etc. in the 21st century.

I was there, a working scribe. I missed the PED story big time. No excuses, it's a blot on the old record. But I also feel that if possible, it's best to avoid letting one big mistake lead one to a series of other big mistakes. And becoming a PED crank would be a doozy. Getting worked up over athletes taking drugs to be better athletes is a gateway drug. Fool with it, pretty soon you're mainlining idiocy.

Ladies and gentlemen of the electronic jury (there are 12 of you out there, aren't there?), I wish to enter the following comment in evidence. Let it be marked Radio Talk Show Lunacy, Exhibit A.

"What did Roger Clemens really gain today," Tony Massarotti declared as I fought not to lose control of the steering wheel. "Not much, when you think about it."

Not much. What's not having to spend time in a federal prison? In all seriousness, Tony went on to claim that whether or not Clemens gets elected to the Hall of Fame is more important than whether or not he retained his liberty -- not just as an issue, mind you -- but to Clemens himself.

I covered Clemens a long time. He's stubborn, not too swift on the uptake and cosmically self-centered (traits he shares with more great athletes than I can count). But Roger's not that far gone, trust me. I'd bet any sum of money that yesterday afternoon he didn't give a shit about Cooperstown because he never thought of it at all.

What is it about baseball that destroys the perspective of otherwise bright and perceptive human beings? What is it about a life of gathering early notes or soundbites in clubhouses that leads them to regard the national pastime not as the wonderful, more than slightly goofy game that it is and see it as one of humanity's greatest and most solemn institutions? Show a true seamhead Nationals Park in D.C., he or she believes they're looking at the Lincoln Memorial.

Stung by the vandal wrecking the steroid crowd did to the statistics that are their sacred texts, and even more stung by the fact the American public at large has obviously decided it's way past time to move on from the issue of drugs in baseball, it said issue ever had a time with said public, which I doubt, the commentariat seeks its revenge, the only one it's got left. Surely the purity of the Hall of Fame can be defended.

It can be. It might be. But if I have anything to say about it, it won't be. And I DO have something to say about it. I have a vote. Clemens will get it. So will Bonds.

It's probably a personal weakness, but I'm more inclined to trust juries than people I hear blatting on the radio and TV.


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