The Clemens Media Circus

Bobby Curran
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Friday - July 13, 2011
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With Roger Clemens’ federal perjury trial underway, arguments persist on whether the proceedings are a legitimate search for justice or a huge waste of government resources and taxpayer money.

In the dog days of summer in the nation’s capital, the trial promises to become a media carnival. It will occupy a central place in national sports coverage and will bleed over occasionally into the mainstream media as well.

Most of the sports people who have covered the issue since the beginning believe it very likely that Clemens was a steroid user and lied about it, although few feel certain this will result in a conviction.

On the heels of the Casey Anthony acquittal, once a trial is in the hands of a jury, it is apparent that certainty has left the building. And that trial was about justice for the murder of an innocent 2-year-old child, something most of us would say really matters, and not about whether a wealthy, entitled 48-year-old man is caught in a lie.

While it would have shock value if Clemens is convicted and thrown into jail, justice is merely a passenger in certainty’s getaway car at this point.

We know that a huge number of baseball players used performance enhancing drugs and many have admitted it. What separates Clemens from the pack was his insistence on a Congressional appearance to protest his innocence, when no such testimony was necessary. You have to believe that his hubris was a desperate attempt to rescue his reputation and future Hall of Fame chances.

The feds don’t like it when someone lies, even when told that the truth will go unpunished. To do it with impunity and a sneer invites the level of scrutiny that has resulted in this trial. While it may end up a personal tragedy for Clemens and a victory for prosecutors, it will matter very little to most of us. It will do nothing to mitigate the stain of the steroid era. And even a Clemens acquittal won’t have most people convinced of his innocence any more than people believed in the innocence of O.J. Simpson or Casey Anthony. And justice is waving goodbye.

* All signs point to a resolution to pro football’s labor dispute sooner rather than later. Any resolution within the next week or so should preserve the entire schedule, pre-season included. And nobody will make any less money as the pie will likely grow, except for incoming players who will no longer receive insane money before taking a snap.

And hopefully the plight of long retired players with serious health issues will be satisfactorily addressed.

Sides will applaud each other, commending their opponent for their reasonableness and vision for the future.

Such a result is unlikely for the NBA and its players, where the issues are serious and the losses sizeable. While you could make a strong case that professional athletes are grossly overpaid, the NBA features even mediocre players making ludicrous amounts of money with guaranteed salaries being paid way past any justifiable level of productivity.

And none of the utterances by either commish David Stern or union head Billy Hunter are giving anyone much cause for hope that the impasse will be short-lived.

Perhaps a market correction has been overdue for some time in the NBA. It just seems a shame to have it come on the heels of such an entertaining postseason.

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