Showing posts with label Clemens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clemens. Show all posts

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Everybody's crooked deep down

"Say it ain't so, Joe! Say it ain't so!"

It's the refrain of the modern age . . . and of the postmodern one, too.

So, let's see here. Who or what is the latest revered person or institution revealed to be a fraud -- or, in the words of one of my favorite Derek Webb songs, "crooked deep down"?

I THINK this Washington Post story might begin to shed some light:

Some of Major League Baseball's greatest stars, including pitcher Roger Clemens and outfielder Barry Bonds, are linked to the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in a report released today by former Senate Majority leader George J. Mitchell.

The report also names pitcher Andy Pettitte, outfielder Gary Sheffield, shortstop Miguel Tejada, who was traded Wednesday by the Baltimore Orioles to the Houston Astros, and dozens of other current and former players, many of them All-Stars.

"For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball, in violation of federal law and baseball policy," the report says. "Club officials routinely have discussed the possibility of such substance use when evaluating players. Those who have illegally used these substances range from players whose major league careers were brief to potential members of the baseball Hall of Fame. They include both pitchers and position players, and their backgrounds are as diverse as those of all major league players."

Mitchell said during an afternoon news conference in New York that each major league team had at least one player linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs during the period that he investigated.

"The response by baseball was slow to develop and was initially ineffective, but it gained momentum after the adoption of a mandatory random drug testing program in 2002," the report says. "That program has been effective in that detectable steroid use appears to have declined. But the use of human growth hormone has risen because, unlike steroids, it is not detectable through urine testing."

Mitchell said that he and his investigators interviewed former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski four times and interviewed former trainer Brian McNamee three times. Players accused of use were given the chance to speak to Mitchell and his investigators but, almost without exception, declined, Mitchell said.

SAY IT AIN'T SO! But, of course, it probably is. Almost assuredly is.

What? You're surprised?

Why, in Heaven's name? It's an old story. One of the oldest, in fact. The only thing that changes is the increasing sophistication of our fraudulence -- in whatever endeavor -- in the face of increased scrutiny, media saturation and a 24-hour news cycle.

So now, scratch out Joe -- as in "Shoeless" Joe Jackson of the "Black Sox" scandal -- and enter "Say it ain't so, Roger! (or Barry, or Andy, or Paul, or Jason, or Gary, or Jose) into your Palm Pilot. According to the big report, they were all juiced, and the big leagues were all about seeing no banned substances, hearing no talk of banned substances or speaking nothing about banned substances.

Of course, when you turn on Fox or ESPN or whatever, what you get is a non-stop PR machine for the major leagues, where all the players ooze High School Musical: The Baseball Team, everybody's a humanitarian, and all those feats of athletic derring-do are solely the result of weight training and Wheaties.

Yeah, and the United States does not torture "enemy combatants," either.

AND HOW ABOUT that Roger Clemens? He's a regular Sheriff Andy Taylor and Mother Teresa, all rolled into one folksy, Texas-sized package of immortality.

That is, if Andy of Mayberry ever got illegal shots in the ass from the likes of characters like this, as reported by The Smoking Gun:

Deprived of a Serpico-like source among the Major League ranks, Mitchell, a former U.S. Senator and federal prosecutor, relied heavily on information provided by a pair of key sources: Kirk Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant, and Brian McNamee, who once worked as a New York Yankees strength coach and personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte.

Additionally, Mitchell's investigators were provided information gathered by federal and state agents who have probed the notorious Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), as well as a nationwide steroid distribution ring that has been probed by the Albany, New York district attorney's office.

According to the report, McNamee told Mitchell that he began injecting Clemens with steroids in 1998, when the pitcher was with the Toronto Blue Jays and that the athlete's performance "showed remarkable improvement." In subsequent years, McNamee said, he also injected Clemens with human growth hormone and testosterone at the athlete's New York City apartment.

McNamee also told Mitchell that, at Pettitte's request, he injected the Yankees pitcher with human growth hormone in 2002, when the lefthander was on the disabled list with an elbow injury. Like Clemens, Pettitte declined Mitchell's request to meet with him.

McNamee, 40, is an ex-cop who recently began cooperating with federal investigators after being confronted with evidence that he received steroids from Radomski and was apparently acting as a "sub-distributor." The report notes that he has been "debriefed extensively by federal prosecutors and agents," who confirmed that McNamee's statements to Mitchell were consistent with those information previously provided to government investigators.

While working for the Yankees in October 2001, McNamee was questioned by Florida cops in connection with the alleged sexual assault of woman in a St. Petersburg hotel pool. The woman claimed the attack came after she unknowingly ingested GHB, the so-called date rape drug. Prosecutors later declined to press charges against McNamee, who cops said was found naked in the pool "thrusting himself" into the groggy woman.

INSPIRING, AIN'T IT? Delve deeper into TSG's excerpts from the Mitchell Report and be even further inspired . . . to throw up.

But then again, I'm probably being a tad hard on Roger and the boys. I'm a fraud, too. Crooked deep down.

And so are you.

But the problem with fraud on such a major-league scale is that, in a world where people, against all odds, want to believe in something -- even if it is in a bunch of grown men playing kids' games for millions of dollars a year -- poor schmucks keep getting taken for saps. That wears on a person.

That wears on a person's psyche, it wears on a person's heart, and it ultimately wears on a person's soul. What it does, drip by acidic drip, is eat away at our ability to trust. It destroys our ability to think anybody anywhere isn't a complete fraud and isn't playing us for fools.

It, like all serious sin, fractures our relationships with one another and turns up the noise level so that the small, still voice of God gets harder and harder to hear. And it makes the world just a little bit more "crooked deep down."

I hate it when that happens.