February 21, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
by Dave Long

If I were on the jury and had to know beyond a reasonable doubt if he did take steroids before voting to convict Roger Clemens, the thing that would nag at me is why would anyone in a position of wealth and privilege risk going to jail by lying under oath to Congress as he may have last week?

Itís not like itís going to cost him millions by stopping him from playing, because heís retired. Plus no one named in the Mitchell Report has yet been prevented from working. Heís certainly made enough to be rich beyond imagination, so he canít need more money ó can he? And after seeing Marion Jones on her way to the big house for perjury and possibly Barry Bonds on his way for the same thing, lying under oath doesnít seem so smart, does it?

So what is it? The Hall of Fame? That while he would still know he cheated, no one else would, so heíd be thought of in a more favorable light? A Bill Clinton-like denial perhaps? Where he tried to get off the hook for having ďsexual relationsĒ with an intern on the technicality that his definition is different than what those of us who reside on the planet Earth considered his actions to be. Like that made it any better, but in the Presidentís mind I guess it did. If not any of those, I can only think of three other things. He could be so used to the benefits of his celebrity, he thought a starry-eyed committee would believe him over Brian McNamee, whether lying or not. Or, he just may be amazingly dumb. The last possibility is he didnít do it. I know if I didnít do it and everyone thought I did, Iíd want my reputation back and thatís the only reason Iíd demand to face that committee as he did.

So, in the spirit of having an open mind letís examine these possibilities.

The President Clinton Denial: Itís the old ďthe best defense is a good offenseĒ approach Mr. Clinton used by sternly wagging his finger at the camera as he said he didnít have sex with that woman. The technique was used a few years later by Rafael Palmeiro the day he scolded Congress for suggesting he used steroids, just a few months before he tested positive for being on the juice. So since both got caught, it doesnít have a great track record of late.

The Clueless Beyond Belief Defense: Given the litany of verbal mis-steps, mis-remembers and assorted other lunacy through the years, like getting chucked in a critical playoff game after telling home plate ump Terry Cooney, ďI know where you liveĒ over a disputed call, this is a distinct possibility. The first clue came when he seemed to equate putting on the USA uniform in the world baseball classic with a patriotic-like charging up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders. That was a scary indictment on how far gone he is. Next was sounding like a flummoxed Ralph Kramden (humina, humina, humina) when Harry Waxman asked why he invited a former nanny to his house for the first time in seven years after learning the committee wanted to speak with her. The Roger-haters liked that moment, as it looked close to witness tampering to them.

Pull One Over On Starry-Eyed Congress: You donít think this is plausible? It worked for OJ in a murder trial, for crying out loud. So why canít it do the same with star-struck members of Congress by a guy with more wins than any pitcher alive? Iím not equating Roger to OJ by any means. But if you heard the goober from Missouri, William Lacy Clay, fawningly ask which uniform heíll wear when he goes into the Hall of Fame during the high drama of the hearings, you know itís possible. Indiana pit bull Dan Burton did something similar as he went after McNameeís credibility in calling him a liar a little after that. And after Clemens was signing autographs for some members of the supposedly impartial committee in meetings the previous week, what would you think?

Actually, I can think of one more possibility ó The Fix Was In: Iím not saying McNamee should have been treated with kid gloves. He is, as Chris Shays, the Connecticut Republican, said, a former police officer who is a drug dealer. He got himself into this mess and has earned what comes with it. But do you think it was a coincidence the wrath of the committee came down along party lines? I hate to sound like Oliver Stone, who sees conspiracy in a late laundry delivery, but I do wonder.

Most of the Republicans were easy on Roger and rough on McNamee, most notably Burton, who said he was disgusted by his lies. The Dems were polite to an admitted liar and werenít buying Rogerís tepid explanations. It could just be Barack Obama is right that embedded partisanship puts the sides at odds simply by reflex. Then again, it probably didnít hurt having politically connected lawyers who, oh by the way, come from Houston. A city where Bush the father lives and which is in the state where Bush the son used to be governor. Thereís no proof word came down from above to go easy on Roger. But those facts, plus the fact that as a former owner of the Rangers the Prez has ties to major league baseball, make me wonder.

Most that I talk to, read and have heard on various talk shows now think Roger was on the juice. And he didnít do anything to make them change their mind, though as I said earlier, I wonder what would make a guy on easy street risk jail if he actually did it. But here are the two things I know are true. Either Brian McNamee or Roger Clemens is lying and should be held accountable. But after seeing what an impediment to getting things done for the right reason the overt partisanship on display at the pathetic Congressional performance is, I donít think either will. Second, after seeing Dan Burton and company in action, Iím more disgusted than ever with the whole bunch.

And to tell you the truth, I didnít think that was possible.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billyís Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM Ė The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football

2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury ó that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK ó it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 Mís for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did

02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Heroís death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The†Demonization of Johnny Damon

Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat