Aaaaaaaaaaaand Ballgame! The Congressional hearing starring Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee is officially over and there are a few things about what transpired that made me extraordinarily happy. To start off with, I am not exactly pleased that Congress found time out of their very busy schedule to have such a charade. This is the most important thing that you can do with your time? A baseball steroids hearing? Times must be great...
I'm not alone in my questioning of the usefulness of these hearings. For example, consider ESPN baseball analyst Jayson Stark. Stark believes that the whole Mitchell Report thing was a waste of time and, one would assume, this hearing as well. I kind of, sort of agree but not for the same reasons as the baseball/Roger Clemens apologist Stark. I think the hearing was a waste of time because the sport of baseball does not deserve this sort of attention. Jose Canseco claimed in his book of a few years ago that up to 85% of baseball players used performance enhancing substances. This seems a bit high, but I'm certainly inclined to believe that the number is much closer to this figure than am I to believe that the total was on the same order as the eighty-nine players who were named in the Mitchell Report. Why? Well, it's because during the 1990s and early 2000s there were a rash of drug busts in other sports as drug testers finally developed tests to detect performance enhancing drugs that had previously been impossible to detect. This led to a host of suspensions of cyclists and distance runners when a test for the synthetic version of EPO was created during the late 1990s (I believe), and more recently, suspensions of a number of track and field athletes when a test for THG was created. If you add to this the fact that neither Major League Baseball nor the baseball players union had any interest in testing for drug use, you have a formula that suggests that 85% of baseball players using these drugs might not be an unreasonable guess. My point is, why should we even care about a sport that is so obviously tainted?
But since the hearing was going to take place, I might as well have taken something positive, something enjoyable from it, right? Now, I fall into the camp of people who should not say anything at all about Roger Clemens. This is because I have absolutely nothing nice to say about him. As such is the case, it was quite a joy for me to see him facing the equivalent of the 95 mph fastballs he had no problem throwing up around opposing batters heads while he was protected from seeing the same by the American League's designated hitter rule. He came off as an awful witness as far as I could observe, and I imagine most other people would agree, apologists like Stark excluded. Many of the Congresspersons pointed out that Clemens's testimony was at odds with McNamee's (no surprise), but the testimony was also at odds with former teammates Andy Pettitte's and Chuck Knoblauch's testimonies. And many of the people present in the room, including Clemens, stated that they believed that Pettitte was a trustworthy witness. Sorry Jayson, things are not looking so great for your boy.
But surprisingly, Clemens was not without his defenders. And this fact is the source of my other satisfaction at watching the hearing take place. Amazingly, in a hearing dealing with steroid use in baseball (or at least by one single baseball player), opinions broke down along party lines. I have paid attention to politics for quite a number of years and know that this notion of bipartisanship is an absolute sham, but even I did not believe for a second that this subject matter would turn into a partisan fight as well. Simply stunning. The Democrats overwhelmingly supported McNamee while the Republicans seemed to bend over backwards in support of Clemens. And as a bonus, there was even bickering between the committee members. What a great spectacle, and I'm looking forward to the indictment...of Roger Clemens.