Thursday, June 21, 2012

Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Jerry Sandusky

Roger Clemens was acquitted of all the charges against him. The feds blew yet another one, along with countless millions of our taxpayer dollars. Did Clemens really use performance enhancing drugs and lie about it? I have no idea, nor do I care. Only the most close-minded cynics could possibly doubt his greatness over the course of his 24 year career, the vast majority of which occurred before such things were even available.

Yet there are those that say they still oppose Clemens being enshrined in baseball's  Hall of Fame. Evidently they have more incriminating information at their disposal than Clemens' jury was made privy to over 9 weeks of testimony in his trial. Either that, or such people are incapable of being objective, and would rather attempt to impose their own set of "principles", and I use the word loosely, on others.

The same goes for Barry Bonds. Let's not forget that after years of being dragged through the muck by prosecutors, the only thing he was convicted of was a minor obstruction of justice charge. Like Clemens, the feds couln't convince Bonds' jury either that he had used PEDs. The sentence? 30 days home confinement -- in his own mansion. I don't know whether Bonds actually used the "cream", the "clear", and whatever else either. There's something far more important afoot.

In America, it's an old adage that one is "presumed innocent until proven guilty". Neither Clemens nor Bonds was found guilty of any drug related charges. Therefore, the law itself says they must continued to be presumed innocent. How phrases such as "not guilty" and "acquitted" somehow crept into existence, while "innocent" goes out the window forever upon merely being charged with a crime, would seem to contradict the law. Innocent going in -- not convicted -- should be innocent coming out. But it doesn't work that way anymore -- does it?

Certainly, we all have our own prejudices here and there about various things. It's human nature. Only a liar would deny that. Yet it becomes offensive when the very people we trust to provide us information -- the media -- start to show their prejudices in what they write or say publicly. Sure, there's always going to be radical whack-jobs on both the left and right spewing their venom, but dammit, the "mainstream media" is supposed to be objective, and not let their own inner biases outshine the issue itself when they are presenting it to the public.

That especially holds true when such folks have a "say-so" in whether a great athlete like Clemens or Bonds gets elected to the Hall of Fame. Many of them get a vote. The numbers these guys put up suggest a no-brainer. For various reasons, no other future pitcher will ever surpass Clemens' 354 career wins. A-Rod of the Yankees, himself somewhat implicated in PEDs, has a shot at surpassing Bonds' record of 762 home runs, but after that, it will never be approached again. Like Cal Ripken's 2632 record of consecutive games played -- it's a simple matter of longevity. Players don't play that long anymore.

We can throw Pete Rose into the discussion. He's the all-time hit leader in major league history -- another record that will never be approached. No PEDs for Pete, but alas, he bet on baseball. Never on his own team to lose, mind you, but rather win. Yours truly is yet to understand what was so terribly wrong with that, but many in the media needed only to hear the word "gambling" and somehow decided Rose was akin to the infamous Chicago Black Sox of 1919. (By the way, after hearing all the so-called evidence, a court eventually completely exonerated Shoeless Joe Jackson and his teammates of any wrong-doing, but the public perception of guilt remains to this day -- and that's just wrong). Even though Rose was "banned" from baseball, hence ineligible for the Hall of Fame, every year when it came time for ballots to be cast, some pundits with their own agendas would spout off about how he didn't deserve it. An objective person might ask -- well gee, if Rose isn't even on the ballot, then what's the point of ranting about their reasons for not voting for him?

Thing is -- Rose is going into Cooperstown eventually. He may not live to see it, but it will happen someday -- because it has to. Personally, I didn't, and don't care much for Rose as a man, but I certainly respect him for what he accomplished on the field of play. The all-time hits leader not in the Hall of Fame? Are you kidding me?

Yet some will persistently disagree. They remain subjective rather than objective -- a cardinal sin in journalism. Shame on them.

As I write this, Jerry Sandusky's jury is about to go into deliberations to decide whether he molested young boys years ago. Did he do it? Beats me. I wasn't there and didn't hear the testimony. Contrary to what many think -- he's still presumed innocent unless and until the jury comes back and says "guilty". Like most of you, I'm only privy to what the talking head analysts have been saying on TV. In this corner, we have Marcia Clarke, advocate for the prosecution, and if I remember right, the same prosecutor that many thought bungled the OJ Simpson murder trial. In the other corner, we have some guy that seems to make a living giving commentary but nobody knows the last time he was an active attorney in a courtroom. Those who can -- do. Those who can't -- preach.

Unlike so many others, I would never have drawn any conclusions about Sandusky's guilt or innocence until the jury has spoken. Isn't that the way it should be?

But many others don't see it that way. These are the same people that will gladly accept various awards for "hard-biting" journalism which involved tearing up somebody's else's life, and will even brag about them. If the "accused" is eventually exonerated, these people will never ever write or utter a retraction saying they were wrong and apologizing. Oh no. They'll just look around for their next target to smear, regardless of what people with all the relevant information at their disposal have decided.

In a perfect world, some agency would come along that put those reporters and talking heads under the very same microscope they put others. What could be fairer than that?

That probably won't happen anytime soon, but here's at least hoping for a little more objectivity and a lot less personal agendas.

Is that asking too much?



  1. John, fair or not, the court of public opinion has no rules requiring the presumption of innocence. Your ability to remain undecided is indeed rare.

    Despite the incompetence of our Justice Department, there is no doubt in my mind that both Bonds and Clemens juiced. The way Bonds' head grew screamed of steroids. The way Roger Clemens could hardly hit 90 with his fastball when he got older, then miraculously was hitting 98 screams of steroids. That said, I am glad they both escaped jail time and a verdict that they were users. I think the media is brutal to them because the media ignored/missed the steroid issue in the first place. They were in the perfect position to blow the lid off, but chose to keep quiet.

    I think they both belong in the Hall of Fame, as they both were on their way before steroids. Let them in but put an asterisk on it, and a statement that they played during the steroid era and all of the records are suspect.

    The thing that really bothers me is there are some players who did not juice and had to compete against those who did. I am sure there are some who didn't even make the show who would have made it had the playing field been level.

    Also, I cannot look at any player who played in the steroid era and wonder if they were clean. Was Cal Ripken clean? How do you play so many games in a row without having something to help recover from the nagging little injuries that deserve a day off?

    Looking at it from a higher level, I blame the Players Union and the Commissioner for letting the whole thing start and escalate. One or two "Banned from Baseball for Life" examples would have stopped the steroid use cold.

    1. Good points Al, and I agree with most, especially the the media burying their heads in the sand at the time, and now going overboard trying to make up for it. Objective people that stayed above the fray see that, but alas, most don't. Also, the uneven playing field for the guys that chose to stay clean. Then again, just to play the devil's advocate -- certainly at some point in time, the players (particularly the "marginal" ones) were acutely aware of PEDs being available and had a decision to make. Do I do it and possibly make millions -- or do I stay clean and and maybe never make it to the "show", only to fall back on whatever other job they can get. A couple years, even at the minimum pro salary, likely equals decades of toiling away at a "regular" job. Ethical vs practical. Throw in being able to afford many luxuries, a wife, kids, college educations, etc., and I can certainly appreciate the dilemma they were faced with. Here's the part you won't like. If, at that time, 'roids were the answer to putting one over the top, I don't blame them a bit for taking them. It was a choice. Here's a comparison -- an NFL running back is going to get hit hard and often. Without getting into possible head injuries, there's a strong possibility they won't be able to walk very well when they get older. This is the price they pay for riches and success. But they do it anyway. Whatever it takes for fame and glory at the time, mind and body be damned later. To me, the vast majority of pro athletes are just hunks of meat that are ridiculously overpaid for the services they provide. If they want to lose their teeth on a hockey rink, get their knees blown out on the gridiron, or take PEDs to succeed at the major leage level -- why should we care? Just kick back and watch the show. And I think I just blew another blog post on this response. LOL Have a good one.

  2. This is hard to believe John, but I agree with you too. I don't blame the players for taking PEDs. Especially the marginally talented. I may be naive, but I think the only reason Barry Bonds juiced was because of what Sosa and McGwire were doing and being praised for saving baseball. Bonds was 4 times the player either Sosa or McGwire was and they were getting all of the attention and adulation - because of the juice.

    As I said before, Selig and the players union are to blame. And I blame Selig more than the union, as it is the union's job to protect their members. Selig was more worried about the dollar (Sosa and McGwire helped baseball back to relevance and profitability) than the long term damage done to the game. He could have pulled the "best interest of the game" and banned a few for life. That would have stopped this nonsense in its tracks.

    1. Wow. I never stopped to think (the usual) about Bonds being drawn into it because of the attention Mc and So were getting. That's one helluva theory. Also agree the 3 (alleged) Roidateers rekindled interest in the game. Good stuff, Al. Keep it coming.

      There's only one thing that totally mystifies me. You agreed with one of my rants. Was it solar flares? An eclipse? A full moon? The Second Coming? Whatever it was, I missed it, but SOMETHING extraordinary had to happen. How else could such a strange phenomenon be explained? LOL Just messing with ya Al. As always, have a good one.