The Blog Squad

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rocket Malfunction

America is a forgiving nation.

Do wrong. Admit to fault. Ask for compassion.

Anything short of the most atrocious crimes, Americans will exonerate the guilty--even embrace them if they are willing to accept responsibility and punishment.

This is a fair nation.

Pete Rose knows that now. If only he had admitted to gambling when he was accused, he not only might be in Cooperstown, but he probably would be coaching and regarded as the best combined player and coach who ever lived.

Instead, he acknowledged fault years later and has never been forgiven. He cheated. Then he lied about it. Then he kept lying about it when there was clear evidence to the contrary.

That sort of deception is never forgiven.

Pete Rose turned from American sports legend to old and pathetic.

Flash forward to today and Roger Clemens, who is arguably the greatest pitcher in history. Clemens was named in the Mitchell Report, a 409-page document released Dec. 13 that spans the history of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

The report claims Clemens used steroids and human growth hormone at least 16-21 times from 1998-2001. The basis of the allegation comes from Brian McNamee, Clemens’ former personal trainer, who testified that he injected the pitcher with the illegal substances.

Clemens went on the attack early to defend himself. He appeared with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes and insisted he would never go for the “quick fix.”

“I’m angry that, that what I’ve done for the game of baseball and as a person, in my private life … that I don’t get the benefit of the doubt,” Clemens told Wallace. “The stuff that’s being said, it’s ridiculous. It’s hogwash for people to even assume this. Twenty-four, 25 years, Mike. You’d think I’d get an inch of respect. An inch.”

Just a day after appearing on the CBS show, Clemens staged a press conference and released a 17-minute audiotape of a conversation he had with McNamee three days earlier. He also filed a defamation suit.

Clemens brought a knife to a gunfight and later released a statistical report that he says rebuts allegations that his career rebounded about the time he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Meanwhile, McNamee turned over vials, syringes and gauze pads to federal investigators. The samples were reported to have Clemens blood and illegal drugs mixed together.

Jump forward again to Feb. 13, when Clemens and McNamee testified at a congressional hearing on drug use in baseball. Clemens continued to deny all allegations despite his best friend, Pettitte, testifying in a sworn affidavit to Congress that “The Rocket” confessed he did use human growth hormone.

Now the FBI is involved and is investigating whether Clemens lied to Congress. He could face perjury charges very soon.

Yes, Clemens is innocent until a court decides otherwise.

I’m just wondering here. If evidence should surface showing Clemens lied, won’t we all wonder: With all his millions, with his connections to some very smart people, why didn’t anybody just suggest he tell the truth? I mean, his buddy Pettitte did when he admitted what McNamee said about his usage of HGH in the Mitchell Report was true.

Won’t we wonder why Pettitte didn’t simply remind Clemens about Rafael Palmeiro or Mark McGwire? Palmeiro wagged his finger at the same committee on March 17, 2005, and denied all allegations. McGwire said nothing.

Five months later, Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days for steroids use.

Today, neither player is seriously considered for the Hall of Fame, though each has the numbers to earn a spot. As far as the voters and the public are concerned, they lied and continue to lie. Therefore, they are cheaters.

In the meantime, Pettitte is preparing for another season. He’s faced the questions. Some have even praised him. I wouldn’t go that far. He did cheat the game. But I do forgive him.

However, if Clemens joins the list of proven cheaters, I hope he never enters the Hall of Fame. Sure you can shout there’s no conviction, just like Barry Bonds. But I ask you: does a court have to say so for us to believe it?

Besides, the Hall of Fame should be the farthest thing on Clemens’ mind. He’s dealing with the feds now. You don’t play around with those folks. Just ask Michael Vick.

OUT AT HOME: Hoisin sauce. — it makes every noodle dish, including Ramen, taste restaurant-quality. Try it.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Perhaps the greatest sports photo ever?


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