Roger Clemens

In which Roger Clemens is compared to Casey Anthony

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I don’t think that I have to provide regular readers my steroid-prosecution-skeptic bonafides. You know where I stand: questionable use of government resources and a highly questionable way for us to assess what happened in baseball over the past 20-25 years too.  A fun spectacle on some level, but ultimately signifying nothing positive or particularly useful.

All that said, I just can’t get on board with Mike Vaccaro’s column in today’s New York Post. The column in which he argues — in a way you might think I’d argue — that the Roger Clemens prosecution is a waste of everyone’s time and money and that the legal system has better things to be doing. The problem I have is the example he uses as a means of jumping into the matter:

Caylee Anthony is dead. And nobody has yet been forced to answer for it. This was the kind of case that merited all the time, all the attention and all the energy of our judicial system. A 2-year-old girl drowns, her body is tossed in the woods, a suspect is arrested, arraigned, indicted, tried. This is why lawyers are paid handsomely, why judges and juries are empanelled, why taxpayer dollars are spent.

In this moment, frankly, it is difficult to build an angry lather about Roger Clemens …

Look, I get that some people got emotional over the Anthony trial — Vaccaro himself was clearly annoyed by the verdict in real time on Twitter yesterday afternoon — but if a dead toddler is your threshold for what is a worthy prosecution, nothing that goes down in our legal system is going to seem all that legit to you.*

There are clear priorities in our legal system. There has to be. But it’s not as if every transgression against Man and State is placed on a big board, all of them judged against one another and only the most dire cases pursued. There are different tracks in the justice system, all leading from different stations.  Some begin with the police on the street. Some begin with people monitoring paperwork. Some begin with citizens filing their own lawsuits. An investigator and a prosecutor tasked with looking at drug crimes or the veracity of testimony before Congress can’t have Caylee Anthony as their bogey, or else they’re never going to make a case.

Back to Clemens. No, it’s not the highest and best use of the legal system. But I’d argue that, in the way it all came down, it’s a higher use than the Barry Bonds case in that, unlike the Bonds case, it truly did involve a person trying to bully his way through legal proceedings based on his fame, offering up implausibilities that demanded they be put to the test one way or the other lest the proceedings look like a farce. Clemens was given multiple outs and opportunities to avoid the public spectacle and willingly passed them up. And yes, I wish that others who have come before Congress and told lies were put in the dock too, but our shameful overlooking of the lies of tobacco or oil executives, for example, does not mean Roger Clemens is worthy of no scrutiny himself.

But no matter where you fall on that issue, I would hope we can agree that, when talking about Roger Clemens, using the Casey Anthony case as a framing device is not exactly the most artful or apt thing in the world, and that it really does nothing to help us think about what to feel about Clemens, steroids in baseball or the legal system.

*It’s also possible that Vacarro doesn’t truly believe that child murder is the threshold for our legal system to act and that he’s merely being sensationalistic and emotionally manipulative here. Perish the thought.

Wade Boggs embroiled in non-controversy over his Yankees World Series ring!

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Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox held a ceremony honoring the 1986 team last night and one of the key members of that team, Wade Boggs, was in attendance wearing  his Red Sox jersey. He also wore his Yankees World Series ring.

When I heard about this controversy a few minutes ago I did something that neither I nor most people who are a part of the Internet Industrial Complex usually do: wondered whether this was actually a controversy.

I quickly scanned around and found a good dozen or so articles talking about it and people talking about them talking about it. I noticed people making reference to how, theoretically, this could upset some Red Sox fans or be seen as a sign of disrespect. But I could not find anyone who actually cared. Anyone who was actually upset about it. I can’t say that I read every comment to every article, but you usually don’t have to dig deep to find people mad about something on the Internet and I could not immediately find anyone who was mad about this. Lots of jokes and comments about the idea of being mad, but no one who actually cared. It was like an obligatory ceremonial function the meaning of which everyone has forgotten.

There are a lot of “controversies” like that. They tend to be more common in the entertainment world than the sports world — people referencing a “scandalous” thing some singer or actor did which, in reality, scandalized no one — but it happens in sports too. In sports it’s when a convention or custom is not followed or when someone doesn’t otherwise conform to some set of expectations. A lot of the time no one cares at all. It’s all about the politics of recognizing situations in which someone might, in theory, care. Or once did long, long ago.

Maybe someone is genuinely mad at Wade Boggs over this If so, I’d love to hear from that person and wonder why on Earth they’d care. But I sort of feel like such a beast does not exist. And for that I’m pretty glad.

The Cardinals had a “statement loss” yesterday

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 25: Manager manager Mike Matheny #22 congratulates Matt Adams #32 of the St. Louis Cardinals as he enters the dugout after scoring a run during the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on May 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)
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I’ve always been critical of the concept of “statement games” in Major League Baseball. Maybe it matters more in football where there are far fewer games and thus each one means much more, but in baseball a win lasts, at best, 48 hours and usually less. Like Earl Weaver said, we do this every day, lady. When you’re constantly talking, as it were, any one statement is pretty unimportant.

I’ll grant that a “statement win” is a thing players use to motivate or validate themselves, of course. We on the outside can roll our eyes at the notion, but we can’t know the minds of a major league player. If they think that they made a statement and it’s important to them, hey, it’s important to them. I’ll admit, however, that a statement loss is a new one to me:

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Kolten Wong provided the basis of that headline. Here is what he said:

“I think we still made a statement. We were down 6-1 right off the bat. The game before, we were kind of in the same situation. We were tired of it,” second baseman Kolten Wong said. “Our pitchers have been our go-to these past few years. It was time for us to step up and I think we all kind of felt that, too. We just wanted to make this a game and show that we have our pitchers’ backs.”

In context it makes sense. A moral victory, as it were. They got to one of the best pitchers in the game after finding themselves down by several runs thanks to their starting pitching betraying them. The hitters didn’t go into a shell when most folks would excuse them for doing so against a guy like Jake Arrieta.

Makes sense and no judgments here. Moral victories matter. Still, it’s hard not to chuckle at the headline. I can’t remember a big leaguer talking quite that way after a loss.

Julio Urias to be called up, make his MLB debut tomorrow

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20:  Starting pitcher Julio Urias #78 of the Los Angeles Dodgers participates in a spring training workout at Camelback Ranch on February 20, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have been mulling this for a long time, but they just announced that they plan on calling up top prospect Julio Urias. He’ll be making his major league debut against the Mets tomorrow evening in New York.

Urias is just 19 years-old, but he’s shown that he’s ready for the bigs. In eight Triple-A games this year — seven starts — he’s 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 44/8 in 41 innings. He has tossed 27-straight scoreless innings to boot. While the Dodgers and Urias’ agent are understandably wary of giving the young man too much work too soon, he has nothing left to prove at Oklahoma City.

Urias turns 20 in August. Tomorrow night he will become the first teenager to debut in the majors since 2012 when Dylan Bundy, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Jurickson Profar each made their debuts.

 

Fox asked Vin Scully to work the All-Star Game. Vin said no.

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Richard Dietsch of Sports Illustrated reports that Fox officials asked Vin Scully if he wanted to work the All-Star Game, be it calling the full game, doing an inning, making a guest appearance or whatever. Scully, though appreciative, said no thanks.

We’ve been over this, but for however much it might make people happy for Scully to make this kind of national appearance, there’s nothing in his history or in his apparent nature that would make such a thing appeal to Scully. For as much as an institution he has become, he still thinks of himself as an employee who calls Dodgers games, goes home and that is that. He has shown considerable discomfort, however politely he has communicated it, at being treated as something different or more special than that. And that’s before you remember that (a) it would be a totally different setup for him which would require a lot of extra work; and (b) the All-Star Break is a time when most baseball people take a couple of days off.

As I said the last time we discussed this, if baseball at large wants to give Scully some sort of national sendoff, the best bet would be for the powers that be to figure out how to get the final Dodgers games of the season nationally televised without blackout restrictions. That way we can all watch him doing his thing, in his element, for a final time without it being gimmicky.