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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clemens Fallout

From my boy Dave in Cincinnati: "I disremember the last time I've been this entertained by Congressional testimony."

I've got a few, random takes on things here, and I'm all over the place, so please forgive.

On McNamee: Our society wants people to do the right thing. We also believe in second chances, being able to turn a wrong into a right. So when he finally comes forward to right his wrong, we throw our arms up and say he must have some personal vendetta against Clemens. That's weak of us.

On Clemens: When this fat hillbilly wasn't making up words, he was throwing everyone close to him not under the bus, but directly in front of it. In the fast lane.

When you're a great athlete, as Clemens is, you're used to a different set of rules. Sure he's famous for his offseason workouts, but at age 46, he's had things easier for him for more than 30 years now. He was probably the best pitcher in his little league, then again in high school and college and was a dominant MLB pitcher for two decades. As a result, he's out of touch with what reality must be like for ordinary people, so he probably has no idea how bad he looks by throwing these people in front of the bus and continuing the pampered star's habit of not taking any accountability. Up to this point, his life has been such that there's been no reason to take accountability.

From Wall: "I thought he was going to trot out, 'I thought it was the ball,'" a reference to Clemens' jackass move of throwing a broken bat on the ground toward Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series when the well-like Piazza broke his bat on a foul ball.

On the media: Those who work in the 24-hour media cycle are people who, unlike Clemens and others they cover, aren't under the microscope and therefore have the benefit of being able to spend the rest of their lives formulating opinions about things they'll likely never fully understand. I wish these TV people got that.

Old dude Barry made a good point yesterday when he said he really doesn't care about the Clemens story. Nowadays, everybody cheats, so why is this such a big deal? A baseball player might have broken the rules to get an advantage, and it goes before Congress? Shoot, politicians cheat, spouses cheat, universities cheat, corporate execs cheat; it's just the norm for many people.

From Miles: "Fix the economy, education system, welfare, health care, jobs, blah, blah, blah ... Then worry about baseball. A-holes."

We want to romanticize this and say, "Oh, but it's the national pastime," but judging by some of the top stories in sports these days, the national pastime has shifted dramatically. The new gig is being a scumbag. Just hours after the Clemens/McNamee hearing started in Washington Wednesday, the NCAA announced that Indiana University -- one of the most respected athletic departments in all of college sports -- will have some serious questions to answer regarding men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

And what have we been hearing about for six months? Bill Belichick and Spygate, that's what.

(Again, I'm all over the place. Hope you're still with me.)

Remember when we thought we'd be cool and be all rebellious and not go to baseball games after the last strike? Do you know what has happened? Not only do we keep going back, but we do so despite the ongoing steroids scandal, not to mention rising ticket prices, our favorite teams' poor play, poor managing, poor general managing and perhaps the off-field arrest or nine.

These 30-year-old children are getting paid obscene amounts of money to play a sport, objectify our women and drive fast cars with guns and weed inside them. But what we hear most from these people is, "Not guilty, your honor."

And boy do we allow for some audacity. That old, angry congressman from Indiana sure did let McNamee have it, yelling at him about trust and lies and believability. I'm sorry, but did this hearing not take place in the birthplace of lies? Isn't there a fairly heavy bullshit quotient in Washington, D.C?

And other politicians told Clemens he was going to heaven, thanked him for his service to the Yankees and asked which team's jersey he'll wear when being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Good Lord, I was waiting for someoene to ask, "Would you like me to wrap my mouth around all of you, or just take half of you in?"

And another suit saying "This is really about the children." We have such a boner for things like "what kind of message we're sending" and so forth. Sheesh, can we just call something as it is? It's a controversy, sure, but don't make it bigger than it is. Kids are cute and all, but screw them for just one minute; this has nothing to do with children or messages. It's about one fat hillbilly lying about how he was able to stay competitive late in his career.

But it's great for the eternal news cycle because, I mean, we don't really think there will come a day when we say, "Hooray! The steroids era is over!" Do we?

That's almost like expecting one day to hear, "I'm so glad there's no more racism" or "I'm just glad that time period when good-looking women got a lot of TV sports jobs was short lived."

On arrogance: And lastly, we'll still hand out the WORLD CHAMPIONS tag to those who win titles in our major sports, arrogantly ignoring that they play some pretty good baseball in Japan and other countries, and basketball all over Europe.

Hockey got it right, but that's because it's not an American sport. The last team skating every June calls itself Stanley Cup Champions, not world champions.

GOOD NEWS: At least there is something to be happy about in the world of sports, and that is that Duke is still Duke. Coach K once again has his kids ready for a nice postseason run. Sometimes they fall flat in March, but when expectations are to get to the Final Four every year, you're obviously going to have some disappointments.

But nothing can be too disappointing when you have the perspective that freshman Kyle Singler has. He's one of many top-level freshmen who are playing lights out this year, but he doesn't get the hype that Michael Beasley (Kansas State), O.J. Mayo (Southern Cal) and Derrick Rose (Memphis) get. But I doubt any of those cats have said anything like this this season: "It's great to be able to play the game I love and share it with my best friends here at Duke," as he said after Duke's defeat of Maryland Wednesday night. And in this week's Sports Illustrated, when asked what Valentine's Day makes him think of, he replied, "buying my mom some flowers."

Say what you will about Duke, but then ask yourself why you say that. Why do you hate Duke? All we do is complain about the never-ending thuggery in sports, but when you're given an alternative, you're critical of that? At Duke, you have good, suburban kids from solid families, kids who are good in the classroom and maybe active in the community, kids who inspire teammates by pounding the floor before a defensive possession or who make the extra pass on offense, finding the open man, practicing that team-above-self approach. Why is that so difficult to appreciate?

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