Friday, December 21, 2007

Say It Ain't So...


Not Roger Clemens...

Barry Bonds, no problem. I couldn't stand Bonds even before the roid thing - low-class, rotten teammate, lousy husband, megalomaniac. For me, Bonds's obstruction of a federal investigation is just another vat of kerosene on an already blazing bonfire.

But Roger? Watching Roger Clemens pitch over the last twenty years, I thought I was watching the reincarnation of Cy Young or Christy Mathewson. He was Bobby Feller on - well, steroids - a grunting, snorting, stomping, seething, barely-contained animal. My fave will always be my boyhood hero, (the gentlemanly) Nolan Ryan; but for the last twenty years, Clemens is my Top Three or Four (Mariano Rivera's up there, too).

True, we have only the word of this McNamee character - Clemens's "trainer" - that Clemens was juiced up when winning those last Cy Young awards. But...Andy Pettite's already corroborated one charge of McNamee's, lending him credibility. In addition...I hate to say it...but steroids would explain a lot over the last eight years of Clemens's career. Not just the spectacular success, but the weird stuff - the angry outbursts on the mound...and throwing Mike Piazza's shattered bat at him in the 2000 World Series. (That might be the weirdest thing I've ever seen in baseball - though the 400 pound, 82 year old Don Zimmer attacking Pedro Martinez might be a close second...).

Moreover, it is hard to imagine why McNamee would invent a story about Clemens when we already know he told the truth about Pettite; but it is obvious why Clemens would deny it even if true. And even worse has been Clemens's fairly strange responses to this allegation. I'm not sure I believe David Justice's denial, but at least his response was something like what my own might have been if I'd been wrongly accused. Clemens's denial, by contract, was mitigated by numerous strange, vague statements about answering the allegations "in the right way at the right time". Plus, I understand he refused to cooperate at all with the Mitchell investigation team, and even refused to meet with them after they approached him with the allegation.

No need to post telling me that steroid use isn't the end of the world. I know that - it's just that one of the reasons I admired Clemens was because of his famously disciplined work-out routine in between games; thinking he might have been juicing the whole time can't help but take away from that. Too bad.

And besides, maybe, as Clemens says, he has always been clean, and McNamee isn't telling the truth. It just doesn't seem like it.

And by the way, could Curt Schilling please shut up about this? Like, just for a week while I and millions of others recover from realizing that athletic feats we admired may very well have been as attributable to some dweeb in a lab coat mixing chemicals as to hard work and raw talent? Hearing Schilling already talking about Clemens having to give back his Cy Young Awards is really irritating. Come to think of it, his strident reaction makes me wonder about Schilling himself. Besides, Curt Schilling was at the forefront, as a player's union rep, at obstructing the testing policy that Bud Selig finally tried to institute (in 2004). Schilling's reasoning was that testing couldn't be left to the owners since they wouldn't keep the results confidential. (SO? Who cares?)

If The Rocket in fact was clean all those years, my suggestion is that he pull out all the stops to clear his reputation. And if he wasn't clean, my suggestion is he do what Andy Pettite did: just come (fully) clean about what happened and let's move on. But...it's almost too late for that now, and how this ends is anyone's guess.

3 comments:

erlybird said...

Tal,

My feelings about Barry Bonds are and will always be tainted by the anger I have over his leaving behind a possible Ripkin-esque career in Pittsburgh with my beloved Pirates for doomed career of weirdness in San Francisco. But please, no asterix. (My vote for the weirdest moment, by the way, is when Dusty Baker's 4 year old son nearly gets run over at the plate in a WORLD SERIES GAME as he goes out to retrieve a bat only to be rescued by J.T.Snow who had JUST SCORED and his father, toothpick in mouth simply chuckles...the little tyke!)

But Clemens has always seemed like the quintessential "I don't need no stinkin' bat" DH-style pitcher who couldn't care less about leaving anything but a trail of different jerseys and pay stubs behind...and a bunch of sons with names starting with K. And if my gut feeling about bat-eschewing pitchers was not enough, since when does a professional baseball player get to decide in MAY that he feels like playing and still get any respect at all? Well, now we can see why...the juice needs time to get working if you don't start taking it until the first day of Spring.

Tal said...

Yeah, that Dusty Baker Junior thing was nuts. Are the Giants insane? No wonder Jeff Kent couldn't wait to get out.

The team-hopping I always excused Clemens for. After all, he was nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career...And I admired the fact he had so much pull that he could stipulate in advance the terms of his participation.

What's sort of caught me off-guard is that for some reason, it never crossed my mind that Clemens was juicing. None of the other guys has been a surprise - and even guys who haven't been named I feel certain were into the dope (like McGwire). But for some reason, I never thought of Clemens, yet it seems to make a lot of sense now.

Crime Dog said...

Like you, I was a disciple of Nolan Ryan. Class guy, fierce competitor, and we need more like him. One of my favorite baseball moments (though it had little to do with the actual game) was the night Nolan dotted Robin Ventura, and Ventura had the poor judgment to charge the mound. You could see the look on Ventura's face when he was about halfway to Ryan, as if he suddenly realized he had made a huge mistake but was beyond the point of no return. Too late, and he ended up getting totally worked by Ryan, to the endless delight of all us Ryan fans who continue to watch that replay to this day.

Ahh. memories......