By Mike Steffanos
(With apologies to Al Franken for the title)
As someone who believes in the principle of innocent until proven guilty, I find myself in a dilemma. As a person who hates the way society is always looking for a scapegoat for a problem rather than a solution I am faced with a terrible conundrum. I've always been someone who strongly believes in principles and the rights of the individual in a culture that is constantly eroding at the edges of those rights. For all of those reasons, I have found myself defending Barry Bonds and others in this space for whom I have no personal liking. I probably should feel the same way about Roger Clemens.
Don't get me wrong. There are many of the same forces in operation here. Roger is taking the heat for the vast majority of cheaters who never wound up in the Mitchell report. Once again, thank to Bud Selig's megalomaniacal need to somehow erase his own historical culpability in the steroid mess we are talking about the past rather than putting resources in to better testing and detecting methods that would ensure the cleanness of the game going forward. As much as that bothers me, I can't help but enjoy this whole sideshow that is Roger Clemens' clumsy, bombastic, desperate attempts to clear his own name. I should be ashamed of myself.
For all of the ways that what is happening goes against my principles, I always enjoy seeing a bully get his comeuppance, and in this case it trumps that aforementioned ideology. You see, I can't help but flash back to the 2000 World Series and remember an almost cartoonish buffoon flinging a piece of a broken bat at Mike Piazza. I sat there watching the dugouts empty and thought, "He has to be tossed out of this game". After all, that kind of idiocy isn't tolerated from athletes on any level from t-ball on up. Yet with the whole world watching such a clear-cut display of egregiously poor sportsmanship, plate umpire Charlie Reliford allowed Clemens to continue pitching -- simply because he lacked the spine to eject the "great" Roger Clemens from the big stage.
After that, I guess you can't blame Clemens if he felt he could get away with anything. Despite all of the red flags of enhancement that made for as compelling of a circumstantial case against Clemens as there was against Bonds, Clemens for the most part got a pass from the press. They fawned over his "workout regimen" and ignored the inexplicable career resurgence at a time when clean athletes decline. Mirroring the silly, implausible excuses that were made for Clemens by his apologists in October of 2000, the obvious tell-tale signs of a cheater were glossed over and ignored.
Now Roger is outraged by the "unfairness" of it all. Not surprising, as there is no one who feels himself more deeply wronged then the bully who is finally reaping his retribution after years of getting his own way. The more he screams his innocence, the less believable he seems. Pathological liars are never more self-righteous than when they are caught in a lie.
I still believe in my principles, but I have lived long enough to understand that they can survive an occasional exception. For now, they're on vacation as I enjoy watching the "great" Roger Clemens squirm. Sometimes it takes a while, but there is justice in the world.