There’s a major event happening Wednesday which is crossing the line between sports and actual news. It has big implications for the sport of baseball and society in general going forward. Roger Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee are testifying before Congress about Clemens’ alleged (by McNamee) steroid and HGH use in the past. It is, in short, a huge deal.
Except it doesn’t matter. Not one bit.
This is yet another opportunity for players from the “Steroids Era” to go in front of Congress, testify under oath and pretend that entire period of time in baseball history isn’t horribly, horribly tainted by rampant cheating. Now, to be fair to the players, steroid use wasn’t technically cheating until 2003 or so, but it WAS illegal, regardless. In either case, all the records from the 1980’s to 2003 are suspect and always will be. Sure, we’d all like proof that one or two guys did cheat, but Roger Clemens is only the target at the moment because no one likes him. Mercenaries tend to not have fans, especially when they were Yankees.
That’s why this doesn’t matter. Whether Roger Clemens cheated or not is irrelevant to everyone except some Hall of Fame voters because his records don’t stand up as a beacon of achievement in a dirty era. He was already under suspicion well before anyone named Brian McNamee said they had proof. The whole thing is dirty with or without one more hall-of-famer going down in flames. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds … everyone is tainted. All that time in baseball might as well have not existed if you believe statistics are the lifeblood of baseball.
Also, the testimony Wednesday is simply a preamble to the part of this process that does matter: the perjury investigations. Both Clemens and McNamee have to be on-record and under oath so that investigators can find out for us who is really lying. And even though McNamee already brought Clemens’ wife into this mess, the real interesting things happen once the testimony is over. Neither guy is going to say anything we don’t already know when they testify. Also, they’ll be very careful to make statements that wont get them nailed for perjury later on. After all, their attorneys will be present. I am, however, excited for the numerous leaked reports of back-room deals and innuendo that will follow this story for months on end. It’ll feel like real news, but it’ll really just be a big tease with no “happy ending,” as it were. And who doesn’t want the happy ending?
Clemens should save us all the time and admit what actually happened. McNamee and Clemens are wasting our time with this mess and the payoff won’t even be that great. It may not happen at all, though it would save them both a considerable amount time and money. “The Era That Saved Baseball” after the strike is now the “Steroids Era” and Jose Canseco is probably the most credible character in the entire story. I guess that says it all, doesn’t it?