Thursday, December 13, 2007

What We All Knew, and When Did We Know It?

It was unfortunate that on the day the Mitchell Report was issued the Houston Chronicle’s front page bore the headline “Baseball braces for report on use of steroids” adjacent to a large picture of a large man with an unusually large head diving into third base beneath the overline “ASTROS: Club finally gets its man---Miguel Tejada” (a juxtaposition that was somewhat more unfortunate for the Astros than the newspaper). Deeper in the Chronicle it was reported that

Roger Clemens was filming a video for the Web site of the Memorial Hermann Hospital Sports Medicine and Human Performance Institute that carries his name when he learned that the Astros had acquired All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles.
Yes, well, we hope the filming wrapped up early because the report for which baseball was bracing on Thursday morning left the mere concept of a Roger Clemens Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance overly fraught with irony (the real funny kind!) by Thursday afternoon. (Allegedly, of course.)

The Mitchell Report’s allegation that Clemens had pumped himself up on something other than 12-oz. rib-eyes from H-E-B quickly supplanted the Pasadena resident’s dispatching by shotgun of the two house burglars as Local Topic of Public Discourse #1. It appears that the notion of The Rocket being hit in the ass with a spoonful of testosterone has robbed Our Town’s dewy-eyed baseball fans and pious sports scribes of the last vestiges of their hard-won innocence.

But we were not surprised, according to Chronicle sports columnist Jerome Solomon, who hastily offered up this considered wisdom:

Roger Clemens? Andy Pettite [sic]?

Yes, it hurts.

We all knew. We all knew. But, still it hurts.
OK, man, here’s a hankie. Compose yourself.

Now explain what you mean by “we all knew” (and was that a cut-and-paste typo or did you mean to repeat “we all knew” intentionally, for, um emphasis?). Is that a far-flung global pronouncement to the effect that “we” “knew” that baseball had a “drug problem” similar to the “drug problem” “besetting” society at-large (that is, “we” take drugs, of all kinds, to make “us” feel better and enhance our human performance; at this very moment, for instance, we [that is, me] are enjoying the tail-end of the performance enhancement provided by the Advil Cold and Sinus pill we swallowed some six hours ago). Oh, the pain!

Or was that a “we all knew” in a more localized sense, as in “we all knew that Clemens and Pettitte were doping themselves but really didn’t know, or pretended not to know,” which gives rise to the question, “Why, then, didn’t you exercise your journalistic duty to tell us?” If that’s indeed the case, than Jerome Solomon should immediately fold up his blog and turn in his membership card to Sigma Delta Chi or whatever professional organizations he belongs to.

But we don’t suspect he “knew.” How could anyone have known about Clemens, a guy who seemed to get bigger and better as he got older (for a while, anyway), contrary to the way most of the rest of humanity has aged for hundreds of thousands of years?*

Personally, we (that is, I) don’t care if Clemens juiced himself. He was an unreconstructed prick before the Mitchell Report was issued and he doubtless will remain one (he’s also a hellacious competitor and one of the two or three best pitchers in baseball history---conditions that are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing). We see that he’s denied the allegations and joined Councilwoman Carol Alvarado on the list of celebrities who’ve hired Rusty Hardin as counsel even though they have been accused of no crime.

So he’s exactly like Barry Bonds, without the indictment---he’s accused but denying or in denial. For some reason, though, we suspect the fans and sportswriters won’t be quite so hard on The Rocket.

* Consider, for example, the decline in the quality of this blog over the years.

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