Sunday, February 17, 2008

Roid-ger's karma sandwich

By Rick Morris

The complete and utter humiliation visited upon Roger Clemens during the Congressional hearings this week vindicates all of us who have long seen he and Barry Bonds as flip sides of the same coin for the Steroid Era. For those like myself who were limited to watching excerpts of it later because we were unable to view it live, Jayson Stark's liveblog really drove home the nature of events all throughout that unique day.

I must say, though, that there seemed a vague note of sympathy shining through in Stark's writing in terms of the degradation being visited upon Clemens. If I was correct in detecting that, it was probably very similar to the sentiments of our Senior Editor Jason Jones, who was able to watch gavel-to-gavel coverage of the hearings. He described to me feeling the emotion that whatever Clemens might have done, it didn't merit that type of virtual anal probe in front of a national audience.

I disagree completely.

I don't believe that anything Clemens experienced this week amounts to anything more than a tiny slice of a karmic repayment for a career of conducting himself as a horse's arse, HGH/roids or no HGH/roids. Go ask Mike Piazza, the recipient of repeated attempted decapitations from this puffed-up bully, if he thinks the committee went too far.

For me, it's not a zero-sum question of whether Clemens is a vile cheater or whether Henry Waxman is a camera-addicted posturing egomaniac. For me, both notions are true.

While I find Stark's overall account to be outstanding and a perfect example of what can be captured both in the moment and for posterity in terms of liveblogging, I do question his belief that Clemens' statements were punctuated by believable intensity. It's all a matter of individual interpretation, but I found his occasional stammering and what I perceived to be a "Forced Angry Guy" manner of speech to be signs of insincerity.

In matters such as these, it's natural to come to the conclusion that nothing has been settled in the absence of any type of conclusive legal finding, but here too I disagree. The predecessor to this circus, the infamous 2005 Capitol Hill hearing, permanently branded Mark McGwire as a cheater in the court of public opinion based on his dissembling before the committee that day. If you glance at the public opinion polls this week, you'll see a similar dynamic at work with Clemens having been unalterably pronounced a cheater by the public based on his pathetic performance before Congress.

So tell me again why nothing was settled with these hearings?

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