With the shock waves of the Clemens hearings still reverberating through our sports world this morning, many are expressing disgust or disappointment that the hearings didn’t ‘accomplish’ anything.
I’m not one of those people.
I think that by dragging the whole sordid mess out into the light (something that Congress eventually said was not necessary, but that Clemens attorneys bizarrely begged for) was one of the best deterrents to future use by players possible. If a guy is thinking about using roids, he only has to watch the train wreck that Roger Clemens life has become to think twice. Roger still has his money and his records, but he and his family will be eternally mocked for his hubris and duplicity.
I’m more than a little ok with that.
I know we live in a day and age where the idea of shame no longer exists. That’s not a good thing. I’m not saying that Clemens should make an appointment for hara kiri or anything, but I do believe it is healthy for people who benefit from the public limelight to have to answer for the things they do while in public. Clemens had no problem with publicity when it meant commercial endorsements. He had no problem using PEDs to become rich and famous. He had no problem engaging in an activity that was illegal, dangerous, and potentially damaging to millions of youth. I have no problem dragging him out into the street for him to get laughed at and mocked now. His humiliation is good for the country. People need to know there is some kind of consequence for this behavior, even if it is just intangible public disdain. Is it as good as rock hard proof and jail time and restitution? No, of course not. But it is something. Kids need to hear that this behavior is not acceptable. It does bring shame and not glory. It is wrong.
That was accomplished. No one using or considering the use of steroids can deceive themselves into thinking that the use of drugs is no big deal or is consequence free. People will still use, but now they’ve heard and seen loud and clear what that road can lead to.
Oh, and before anyone says, “it wasn’t proven!” (though I suspect I’m now creating a straw man – I’m not sure anyone would really employ that particular rejoinder after yesterday), let me just say that I understand how you feel. I spent almost 20 years trying to defend Pete Rose. I’m not arguing that we should put Roger Clemens in jail for steroids. I am saying that I have dealt with liars. I have personally worked with and had to expose people who bought their own lies so completely that even when presented with hard evidence of their misdeeds, they continued to deceive, envagle and obfuscate. A friend was a prosecutor in LA who worked with sex abuse cases. She said that the human capacity for self deception and fraud is amazing. She would present video tape evidence of crimes to defendants who would look at the tape and continue to deny what they did. To believe Roger Clemens, you have to believe:
1. His remarkable change in performance, unparalleled in baseball history, was unaffected by drugs in an era when drug use was rampant
2. That his best friend somehow misunderstood him to say he was on drugs
3. That his wife was using the very same drugs as his best friend, and many other players in his profession without his knowledge. Oh yeah, and his personal trainer who supplied these drugs injected Clemens’ wife without his knowledge and without ever having a conversation with Clemens about the particular drug.
4. That after his wife had a reaction to the drug, that Clemens didn’t bother researching the drug or taking her to a doctor because he just didn’t think it was a big deal.
5. That a man on incredibly thin legal ice would risk certain incarceration by persisting in his insistance that he personally injected Clemens with the drugs when it’s unclear what he had to gain either at the time or now in continuing to tell the story.
Maybe you can believe one or two of those things, but I can’t believe the chain. I think it is insane to continue to believe Roger Clemens. I can’t think of one reason to believe him. He has exhibited classic guilty behavior by consistently blaming everyone else around him for his circumstance. His wife, his best friend, his lawyers, George Mitchell, Brian McNamee. Everyone is guilty…except Roger Clemens.
And don’t even get me started on Kelvin Sampson.