Clemens, Spygate probes merely entertainment
Posted: Friday February 15, 2008 11:38AM; Updated: Thursday February 21, 2008 11:41AM
I don't do baseball, but I find a common thread between the Clemens hearing and the infamous Destruction of the Tapes. So I'll lead off with a pair of e-mails that get me talking about what I wanted to talk about anyway ... do you find this acceptable?
I'll end the suspense by announcing that these first two letters have earned the buffeted ... make that coveted ... E-mailer of the Week Award, so put your hands together for a big Moshulu Parkway round of applause to Gene Lemire of Toms River, N.J. and David Isaacson of Minneapolis.
From Gene (and incidentally, I know how Toms River got its name... after Dr. John J. River) -- "What the hell is our congress doing spending money looking into past drug use instead of preventing any future abuse?" From Dave -- "Spygate has become a symbol for how to adjust focus on something to avoid 'the something' that truly matters." And he goes on to mention the somethings that truly matter -- price setting by energy conglomerates, the phony war in Iraq, that failure of adequate compensation for indigent NFL veterans, and politicians' lack of the same commitment to these issues.
First the drugs, which I interpret to mean steroids and HGH, which triggered that TV show from the Washington hearing room. Gosh, wasn't it fun, all those politicians pretending they were like something out of Court TV?
Did they have the power to really bring charges? Uh, no. Did they have the power to reach a verdict and impose a penalty? Come on now. So what were they doing there? They appeared at Clemens' request, after he had gone around and personally schmoozed a selected group of them. Somehow there was the vague threat of punishment to Roger for lying to Congress, although the president has gotten away with it for years.
What I saw, though, in the 10 minutes or so that I was able to watch it, was something right out of the old radio show, It Pays to be Ignorant. It was one of my favorites when I was a child. It was a brilliant parody of quiz shows, such as Information Please and The Quiz Kids. This poor old ex-vaudevillian, Tom Howard, would ask his idiot panel a question such as, "Who was buried in Grant's Tomb?" and for 15 minutes or so the most moronic discussion would take place, without the question ever being answered.
The part that I watched of this week's version was Congressman John Tierney trying to get an answer from Clemens to the question, "How do you say three times in your deposition that you never did speak to [Brian] McNamee about steroids and later on acknowledge that, in fact, you had?" And Clemens would bounce this back on one hop... "It was prior."
"What was prior? You contradicted your own deposition."
"It was before that."
"What was before? First you said you didn't, then you admitted you did."
"Not the way you mean it."
I yelled to the Redhead, "You've got to come and watch this! It's Tom Howard and Lulu McConnell!" Just freakin' hilarious. And I watched that silliness for about 10 minutes and then went back to my newspaper.
Now this is going to sound very simplistic to you. If a person is suspected of a crime, bring charges and file them and let the court decide. Why is that such a hard concept to accept? Why give these congressmen and congresswoman a forum to show how dopey they are?
And now I take my simple viewpoint one step farther. Son of Spygate, or The Destruction of the Tapes (not to be confused with The Destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70). Again, if you're going to go after someone on a violation you suspect has been repeated for many years, you launch an investigation, gather evidence and act on it. That's the simplistic viewpoint from one who spent too much time watching cop shows such as NYPD Blue and The Shield. But the way Commissioner Goodell did it was to allow the Patriots to investigate themselves and gather their own evidence.
At least that's the way it was presented ... tapes the Patriots produced, representing six years of ... well, legal, or illegal, or fringe-legal, who knows? evidence, plus "notes and other material," whatever that means. And you have to believe that there was a lot more material, gathered over the course of six years.
Sure, that's the way to do it. Let the suspects bring up a case against themselves. That's the way the NCAA does it when it's checking into violations, and every time I hear that phrase, "The University cooperated in the investigation," I have to laugh, the same as I did with this Goodell thing.