Rising temperatures and post-midterm laziness have made sitting through class especially difficult this week. On the way to class this morning, students are likely debating how important the upcoming lecture really is. Some might have taken the gamble and checked out for the beach.
For those who are suffering through class, take heart that your seat is not as uncomfortable as the one Roger Clemens will find himself in this morning. The heralded pitcher, who was 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA last year for the Yankees, is testifying before Congress this morning with his former trainer Brian McNamee.
After years of allegations and whispers, Clemens’ name appeared in the Mitchell Report in December after McNamee admitted to injecting him with human growth hormone and anabolic steroids. The national media had a field day as they reveled in the idea that the greatest pitcher of his generation had cheated.
After a week of indecision, Clemens and his team of attorneys has led a spirited defense that paints McNamee as a troubled individual who would like nothing more than to bring Clemens down.
A few weeks of bickering was followed by subpoenas from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating steroid use in professional sports.
The last time baseball players were called to testify, in 2005, high drama ensued.
Sammy Sosa forgot the English language, Rafael Palmeiro seemed credible until he tested positive a year later and Mark McGwire still has not been seen since he refused to bring up the past.
Some time in the past two-and-a-half years, the steroids angle became so saturated with stories that the general public tuned out. Few cared about who was juicing; the only passion that could arouse the subject was the vilification of Barry Bonds. Of course, Bonds became public enemy No. 1, as media members put forth a campaign against players who threatened the integrity of the game.
It’s easy to write, but when facing a decision that could be the difference between millions of dollars, steroid use becomes a gray area that a majority of the general public would see as a viable option.
But the Clemens-McNamee soap opera ordeal has reeled everybody back in.
Taped phone calls, bloody syringes and McNamee’s claim he shot up Clemens’ wife with HGH (a great plot twist, albeit bush league – allowed but sketchy, akin to Washington forward Tim Morris recently throwing a basketball off the face of UCLA’s Alfred Aboya) have made this morning’s proceedings must-see drama.
Despite seemingly overwhelming evidence and public perception, Clemens’ defense has been nothing if not vigorous. His lawyer has issued a detailed report comparing him statistically to other great pitchers, and Clemens himself met with members of the committee face-to-face prior to the hearings.
Either Clemens is innocent, or in a Marion Jones-like state of denial, convincing himself that his record is clean. If the latter is the case, he is risking federal perjury charges.
Clemens’ gamble is the largest in the sporting world since Phoenix Suns general manager Steve Kerr traded for Shaquille O’Neal. Granted, that was last week, but the point stands.
Either way, it will be headline news that provides fodder for sports-talk radio, as one emerges vindicated, while the other can only hope that the spotlight fades quickly.
Kory Harbeck is a Mustang Daily reporter and sports columnist.