Tuesday, June 19, 2012

High and tight

Ten weeks. Millions of dollars. That's the price we paid for the abortive prosecution of Roger Clemens.

And why? What was the purpose?

So you think he lied to Congress when he gave testimony during the show hearings on steroid use in baseball. Members of Congress lie like rugs every election year. They get in front of a television camera whenever they get the chance and look at the American people and lie like there's no tomorrow.

And because they think a famous baseball player didn't tell them the truth about baseball we're going to haul him into court and watch the prosecution whiff on every pitch.

I've asked the question before - and I'll ask it again - does it really matter if Roger Clemens took steroids or human growth hormone while playing in the The Show? Did it affect anyone's life in any meaningful manner? I grew up following baseball but it's just entertainment - just like any other television show, movie or anything else you can go and do on a Friday night.

Baseball is all about tradition. And baseball is all about cheating. Everyone cheats. Just watch the second basemen turn a double play and look to see if he ever touches the bag. He doesn't. The umpire knows he didn't touch the bag. But, so long as he steps near the bag - the runner is out.

What do Gaylord Perry, Mike Scott and Joe Niekro all have in common? They all messed with the baseballs they pitched. Perry was the greatest spitballer of all time - if he were pitching today he'd make a fortune endorsing petroleum jelly. Scott and Niekro scuffed the ball like you couldn't believe.

Catchers frame the plate with their mitts to "convince" the umpire that the ball crossed the plate. Runners on second do their best to steal signs from the catchers and relay them to the batter. Baserunners slide with their spikes up trying to break up double plays. Batters wear billowy pajama-type uniforms to make it easier to sell getting hit by a pitch.

After the 1994 World Series was cancelled due to a strike, baseball looked for any way they could to get people back to the ballpark. The owners and the commissioner (the willfully blind Bud Selig) looked the other way while players shot themselves up with steroids, human growth hormone and any other performance enhancing drug they could find. Hey, chicks do love the long ball, you know.

But when the cherished records of yore were challenged by the baseball-playing lab experiments, the line had to be drawn. And with the cameras rolling, Congress had to get a piece of the action. Ordinarily I would say it's not a problem - if Congress is asking baseball players questions then there's one less thing they can fuck up - but when they begin to think they're doing something vitally important, then we have a problem.

And, as a result, we end up with the waste of our tax dollars. There was no reason for Roger Clemens to be put on trial. There was no vital national interest being served.

That's strike three. You're out!

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