I was all set to weigh in on the Brett Favre issue, when news broke that Roger Clemens may be headed for the slammer. For the past few years, Major League Baseball has been conducting a hunt to expose the players who have been using performance enhancing substances. According to the powers that be, this is an effort to clean up the sport.
Those named have had to appear in front of a congressional committee to testify. Clemens was among those called, and he vehemently denied ever using such a substance. It seems that evidence to the contrary has appeared and Clemens is guilty of lying under oath. This penalty can carry a sentence of up to 30-years.
Congressman Elijah Cummings expressed his doubts over the truthfulness of Clemens’ statement when he testified. Recently he stated that Clemens could have pleaded the Fifth, and though the committee wouldn’t have liked it, they couldn’t have done anything.
Barry Bonds is due for his day in court next month, and if he is smart, he will cop a plea and go away quietly. Having a little dirt attached to your name is a whole lot better than having to spend some time behind bars.
There is a lesson to be learned from some of the other notables who have had the finger pointed at them: Fess-up, and after the dust clears your indiscretions are soon forgotten.
Rafael Palmeiro denied his involvement in performance enhancing participation, but when evidence started to emerge that he had lied before the committee, he turned into a snitch. He said that he got the drugs from teammate Miguel Tejada. From that point, he was blackballed from baseball.
Everyone connected with the sport has turned his back on Raffy, and with a lifetime average greater than .300 percent, 500 doubles, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBIs and 3,000 hits, it is still doubtful that he will make it to the Hall of Fame.
Mark McGwire found himself under the gun after his memorable battle with Sammy Sosa to break Babe Ruth’s record. Mark admitted to using andro (androstenedione), a growth hormone. However, at the time there was no MLB drug policy in place, and the substance could be bought over the counter. Mark’s milksop performance before the committee left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth, and his Hall of Fame stock dropped considerably.
Sosa had his 15 minutes of glory, but when called to testify, he appeared with an interpreter. When interviewed, Sammy could deliver a thousand-word dissertation on roast pig, but when the chips were down, he “No spikka English.”
A-Rod and Jose Conseco did a little foot shuffling, but admitted to getting a little help from the pharmacy. This said, they went back to work and it was business as usual. I am willing to bet that the double standards of the HOF voting committee will be exposed when A-Rod’s name appears before them. My money says that he will go in on the first ballot.
Baseball seems to be taking a tougher stance than other sports. Football is a sport where every time you put on the pads there is no guarantee that you won’t be leaving the field of play in an ambulance. However, there seem to be a lot fewer instances of substance abuse reported from the gridiron.
As far as baseball and other sports stack up, you just have to look at the case of Pete Rose. Pete was accused of gambling, and this proved to be the kiss of death for his Hall of Fame chances. Pete’s performance during his career should have made him a Hall of Fame first-rounder. However, with the hard-nose approach of MLB, Pete is still on the outside looking in.
Some years ago, footballers Alex Karras and Paul Hornug were accused of gambling. They were suspended for a year and at the end of the suspension, went back to work. Hornug is in the Football Hall of Fame, and Karras is under consideration.
This is a classic example of different strokes for different folks.