Roger Clemens' performance in his news conference the other day offers yet more evidence about how removed he is from the world that most of us live in, and how little he understands about how fans think about baseball and the world.
He doesn't really understand that by using the passive voice -- "I was told" about Brian McNamee's qualifications to inject him with substances -- he showed just how incurious he was about his trainer, at the same time he wanted us to believe that he cared deeply about how he only cared about the health of his body. When a reported asked a reasonable question about how he accounted for a dramatic improvement from 2000 (13-8 win-loss record) to 2001 (20-3), Clemens lost it, saying, as far as I could tell from the bleeping on my radio, that he "didn't give a rat's ass about records." Come again? The dominant pitcher of the era didn't care about a win-loss record, and only cared about the temple of his body? He actually had the nerve to get indignant on this score!
I don't know how his lawyer could think that Roger would do himself some good by letting his "emotions" show. He thought it was a real zinger to take a swig of water from a bottle and ask the assembled reporters, sarcastically, "Can I drink water?"
After playing the truly bizarre taped conversation with his former trainer, he said "I'd love for him to come down here... I'd be afraid for him." In other words, I'd love to pound the stuffing out of him. At no point, as far as I can tell, did he say, with any kind of authority, it's all wrong, and time will tell and the truth will out. Nor, as Frank Deford pointed out in his NPR commentary this morning, did he answer McNamee's plea for direction with the instruction to "just tell the truth." Most wealthy, top-tier male athletes live in a cocoon of "yes men" (and even more "yes women") and Roger Clemens showed the other day just how thick the walls of his cocoon really are.
By the way, he doesn't seem to be alone. The normally even-tempered Murray Chass of the New York Times has also lost it. In Sunday's Times Chass suggested that "If Bonds ever makes the real Hall of Fame, his plaque should portray a vial of the flaxseed oil that he said his trainer gave him to rub on his body. If Clemens makes it, he should be depicted with a syringe of lidocaine, which is what Clemens says his trainer injected into him."
Come on, Murray! Should we retroactively put a mug of beer on the plaques of Grover Cleveland Alexander, Babe Ruth, and Mike "King" Kelly? How about a tube of KY jelly on Gaylord Perry's, a hot dog on Reggie Jackson's, a pack of cigarettes on Earl Weaver's, or a pair of filed spikes (or KKK hood) on Ty Cobb's? You've covered baseball for enough years to know we don't look for our role models in baseball clubhouses.
I just can't resist. It's often hard to figure out where Maureen Dowd's columns are really coming from, but her stunningly nasty column in today's New York Times combined her trademark "reporting" -- quoting fellow Times reporters -- with over-the-top hostility to Bill and (especially) Hillary Clinton. "She became emotional," Dowd sneered, likening Hillary to Cinderella, "because she feared that she had reached her political midnight, when she would suddenly revert to the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite." Nice, Maureen, really nice. Whose fear might really be speaking here? That terrific headshot on the Times website can only be accurate for so many years, right?
Hillary can do nothing right in Dowd's view, and in that sense Dowd resembles far too many Americans who can't figure out what they think about a female presidential candidate. When she's tough, she's too tough, proving her "masculinity." And when she's soft, she's too soft, "spreading gauzy emotion." Dowd cannot stand the fact that "At her victory party, Hillary was like the heroine of a Lifetime movie, a woman in peril who manages to triumph." But that's exactly who Hilary was, yesterday, and she gets to enjoy that. Shame on you, Maureen Dowd.