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The View from the Cheap Seats

May 8, 2008 under Cheap Seats

When the Mitchell Report was first released in December, many speculated that the mere mention of a player’s name would serve as its own punishment. We had already seen what the consequences of even suspected steroid use would be when Mark McGwire became eligible for the Hall of Fame. The man who broke Roger Maris’ single season home run record and slugged over 570 in his career was remembered more for his selective memory during a congressional hearing than he was for his exploits on the field.
Possibly because of McGwire’s example, or maybe due to the desire to put the cloud of performance enhancing drug use behind them, player after player came clean and admitted their guilt. After all, hadn’t Jason Giambi gotten himself back into the fans’ good graces with an apology? From former player Fernando Vina to current star Andy Pettitte, many of those named copped to the charges and moved on. And why not? Senator Mitchell himself had advised Commissioner Bud Selig that no sanctions be handed down to any active players named in his report. It was time to cut losses and move on.
Roger Clemens, however, decided to fight. In what has become an incredibly tragic display of arrogance, Clemens has staunchly insisted that he never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind and that he is the victim of a witch hunt. Ironically, since he first characterized himself as a victim, he has steamrolled down a destructive path leaving a long trail of his own victims.
First, there was the libel lawsuit filed against former trainer, Brian McNamee. Then, after demanding his day in court, he appeared before a congressional committee and firmly stated that Pettitte, who had confirmed all of McNamee’s accounts of their relationship, had misremembered their conversations, stopping just short of calling his good friend a liar. It was during this hearing that it was revealed that Clemens’ wife had used steroids. Regardless of his innocence or guilt, the Mitchell Report was no longer Roger’s biggest problem.
Now, we find out that Clemens carried on a long-term affair with country singer, Mindy McCready, which started when he was 28 and she was only 15. Once again, Roger denied any wrongdoing while, at the same time, McCready confirmed everything. Perhaps the most amazing part of the whole saga is that much of the focus seems to be on the affair itself rather than the fact that it may have been carried on with a minor.
So, to recap, in December, Clemens was suffering the embarrassment of being named as a steroid user in the Mitchell Report. Now, because of his misguided and unsuccessful attempts to discredit any and all who accused him, he is being investigated by the Justice Department as to whether he committed perjury. The IRS is investigating his finances to determine if he purchased steroids. His wife’s steroid use has been exposed, it has now become known that he is possibly guilty of statutory rape, and his chances of ever being voted into the Hall of Fame are virtually gone. His reaction to all of this? Everyone else is lying. Our reaction? Clemens has now joined Barry Bonds as the face of the steroid era in baseball.
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When Moises Alou went down with a hernia during spring training, the Mets’ general manager, Omar Minaya, came under a lot of fire for trading away prospect Lastings Milledge to the Nationals during the off-season for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Now, however, just a month later, Church is probably the Amazins’ MVP. Displaying not only the proficiency versus left-handed pitching that was the biggest mark against him in Washington, he has also shown himself to be an excellent defensive outfielder with a cannon arm. That such a strong defensive catcher like Schneider was also acquired in the deal makes it one of Minaya’s best.
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Is there a more exciting basketball player in the world right now than Chris Paul? He currently has the entire New Orleans Hornets squad strapped to his back as he barnstorms through the NBA playoffs. It has been a long time since a point guard has been able to dominate games the way Paul has all season long. He gave notice of an official changing of the guard during the first round as he made the Mavericks’ Jason Kidd look very old, averaging close to 30 points per game while dishing out more than 10 assists per contest. Dare I call him the best since Magic Johnson?
* * *
Growing up, I played ball all over Brooklyn. From Shore Road to Bay 8th Street, from the Parade Grounds to Marine Park, I traveled the length of the borough to get to games. Actually, I was a passenger on all of those trips since my Mom did a lot of the driving. And sitting. She did a lot of sitting. She sat down the line in an overcoat during those April games when the weather had forgotten that it was springtime. She sat under an umbrella on those hot days in August to watch me pitch when she could have been at the beach. To me, it was her job in a way. I couldn’t drive, so how else was I supposed to get there? Now, as an adult with a parent’s perspective, I appreciate her being there more than I’ve ever told her. She taught that you can’t give your children anything more valuable than your time. Thanks, Mom.
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When my oldest was 9, he made his pee-wee football all-star team and was excited about traveling to Virginia for a “bowl game.” That is, until we realized that the game was the day after his aunt’s wedding and he assumed he would have to miss it. My wife, however, would hear none of that. Realizing how important it was to him, she decided that after leaving the reception on Long Island at midnight, the kids could sleep in the car as we drove through the night to Newport News, Va. in order to get our son to his 9 a.m. game. Exhausted, she was the prettiest mom on the sideline, still in her hair and makeup from the wedding.
I learned a lot that day, just as I’ve learned a lot sitting with her through all of the ball games and competitions in which our children have participated. There have been championships and heartbreak, a lot of travel and many weekends where the grass grew too long in the backyard or the laundry didn’t get done. Through it all, she has always maintained that we only have a short time to enjoy watching the kids be kids and that we can’t miss it. She has made the whole ride more fun for all of us. Happy Mother’s Day, Gin, from a guy who clearly outkicked the coverage on his wedding day.

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