Skip to comments.Roger Clemens' Tall Tales
Posted on 01/10/2008 8:35:18 AM PST by canuck_conservative
Most of you have never heard of Ralph Beard, or if you did, had forgotten him by the time he died a few weeks ago just short of 80. But back in the 1940s, Beard was a terrific All-American basketball player, who led Kentucky to two national championships and the United States to a gold medal in the 1948 Olympics. He was already a first-team NBA All-Star when it was revealed that he had taken money from gamblers to shave points in games at Kentucky.
Beard, like so many other players of that era, was summarily banned for life from the game. He admitted his guilt, too, saying that he had simply grown up poor and just couldn't resist taking the money. He lost it all for only about $700 -- branded forever as a fixer.
We tend to be more critical of athletes, like Ralph Beard, who conspire to lose, rather than those, like steroid users, who cheat trying to win. That's often dismissed as just being canny, looking for an edge. Why, Gaylord Perry was celebrated outright for his ability to throw illegal pitches; he tricked his way into the Hall of Fame, everybody laughing right along with him.
But the fact is that it makes no difference in which direction an athlete cheats. Either way, he is distorting fairness, which is the very essence of sport. Ralph Beard's transgressions cost his own team victory. If Roger Clemens -- or any other baseball player named as a user of steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) in the Mitchell Report -- is guilty as charged, then he cost other teams their fair due. What, pray, is the difference?
Now, of course, Clemens has taken a refrain from so many other accused athletes' lyrics by claiming that he didn't know that he was being given a banned substance. Barry Bonds swore he thought it was all just flaxseed oil -- remember? Hasn't C l e m e n s read that Bonds is up for perjury, that Marion Jones may well be sentenced to prison this very Friday for the same sort of lies? But here Clemens is, disputing his trainer, Brian McNamee, who testified -- under threat of jail if he was caught lying -- that he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH. The sad and bizarre phone call with McNamee that Clemens
taped last Friday, and then played in public, seemed only, to me, to confirm the pitcher's guilt. Mc-Namee was distraught for having testified against his old friend and meal ticket. Time and time again, he pleaded: What do you want me to do, Roger?
Wouldn't an innocent man, with the tape secretly running, say: just tell the truth, Brian. Clemens so often
told McNamee that he wanted the truth out, but when McNamee specifically asked Clemens what he should do, Clemens did not flat out ask him to tell the truth. Because, one can only surmise, then McNamee would say that he had already done that. And never did McNamee volunteer that he had lied. He seemed only to regret that the truth had hurt so.
All right, I'm sorry. Perhaps I'm just too cynical and hard-hearted. Perhaps I have just heard it all too often -- even emotionally, to my face -- from athletes claiming, with just as much dramatic insistence as Clemens supplied, that they were innocent only to be convicted later.
Even after he told the truth, Ralph Beard spent more than 50 years of his life in shame. If Roger Clemens is guilty, then he deserves no better. Let's put the right word on it. Any player who took steroids is a fixer. He fixed games.
- Frank Deford is the senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated and a regular commentator at National Public Radio, where this column originally was aired.
I don't know the full story of Ralph Beard, but most of those guilty of point-shaving admitted to keeping the scores down, not to throwing games completely. (I know this might be a distinction without a difference to some.) That is, if his team was favored by ten points and Beard made sure they won by less than that, he would be a point-shaver, but he did not conspire to make his team lose.
I HOPE he is innocent because , like he said, all his career he has "worked his butt off" to stay in shape.
On local TV replay of the phone call, I thought Roger did say, "Just tell the truth."
What’s not said:
Point-shaving is done as favors for organized crime, so that they can steal money. The crime done isn’t his done to either team... it’s grand theft against people who made wagers. If Beard tangled for the mob for only $700, it doesn’t mean his crime was less; it means only his soul was cheap.
Perry’s antics were part of the equation when people decided who to root for, and were useless in trying to fix games for the mafia. Dirty? Yes. Mafia-related crime? No.
And there’s the difference.
I’d like to give Clemens the benefit of the doubt, but if I were him and I’m innocent... as soon as the allegations came out, I’m screaming from a mountain top that I’m 100% innocent, I didn’t do it, and I’ll sue everyone I can for libel and defamation. However, Clemens didn’t do that. He waited a few days, then through his lawyers (note he didn’t do it directly) refuted the claims. To me that tells me he’s hiding something. I hope I’m wrong.
"Absolutely, 100% not guilty!"
I agree... Clemens’ denial seems sincere to me.
On another topic, I also wonder if much of this steroid “cheating” is way overblown. The thing most obvious to me after that big report came out was how many people were on the list— and how most of them were names that I’d never heard of.
If that many people are doing it, and clearly for most of them there was no obvious advantage accruing to them because of it... is it really cheating if it has no effect? Seems to me it’s the same kind of “cheating” as carrying a lucky rabbit’s foot.
There’s no way to be 100% sure, but after thinking about his 60 minutes interview, I think he’s lying for two reasons. He brought up the possible up the possible harm from all the Vioxx he’s taken. It’s typical for liars to change the subject and try to garner sympathy. Second, he said the reason he didn’t take steroids is because they don’t work and they shorten your career. That’s not a convincing argument to me.
According to Werner Wolf, the B12 shot and lidicane? (sp) that Clemens says McNamee gave him would have been more likely to have been administered by a team physician, not a trainer.
Ask yourself this: why would McNamee tell the truth about Pettitte, but lie about Clemens?
The one who should “just tell the truth” is Roger Clemens. But just like Barry Bonds, it will never happen! We can only hope somewhere, someone nails Clemens for perjury!
Didn’t like Clemen’s and this just reaffirms my feelings
He has one section of his house set up like a museum to his career and has the gall to get on TV and say “I don’t give a rat’s ass about the HOF —Yeah sure Rog
He has made how many gazillions over the last 6-7 years yet he wants some peon to risk perjury and jail time for him
Man up Rog you won’t have to give any of the salary back
Marion Jones’s denials seemed sincere at the time.
“Man up Rog you wont have to give any of the salary back”
He won’t. It’s really all about the celebrity status and ego that goes with the induction into the HOF.
As we have seen, some recent offenders have said "yes I did it" and received accolades for coming clean. It certainly seems to be an inexcusable offense to deny something that "the media" has taken on as fact.
Wasn’t Clemens contacted while the Mitchell Report was still being compiled, and didn’t he have a chance then to refute the charges in the Mitchell Report?
As an official old fart, I feel it's my duty to remind you that $700 bucks was a pretty good haul for a college kid back in the 40s.
Why the dollar had only been devalued once and was still worth $.50, a whole heck of a lot more than it's worth today!
Well, ok... so it means that he’s lying because she did?
I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I can’t say I care all that much who’s taking steroids. Seems like the simplest answer is to just legalize ‘em. Everybody’s using ‘em anyway. The don’t even seem to be making much of a difference.
Yeah, that's the significant part here. Pettitte has games to play, Clemens doesn't. Pettitte has more to lose since he could be facing a long suspension or even an outright ban. Clemens, OTOH, has his money. His professional reputation is the only thing at stake here (so far).
Clemens might be the 'Big Fish' that the Mitchell Report was looking for, but isn't Pettitte a big enough fish? I don't see McNamee having any motivation to lie about Clemens. I would think the motivation would be to shield Clemens if anything. They have a long history.