Friday, August 20, 2010

House Of Lies, World Of Agendas

  • Wasting money and time as a means to an end:

Yesterday, Roger Clemens was indicted on charges of lying to Congress when he denied using performance enhancing drugs in a public hearing in February, 2008----NY Times Story.

This news is the latest chunk taken out of Clemens's tattered reputation. His life-crash has resulted in a downgrading of his legitimate baseball accomplishments and acts of charity all because he has steadfastly refused to do the smart thing and admit guilt, accept punishment and move forward.

How many times does it have to be repeated that it's not the crime, but the cover-up? How many public figures have to see their lives dissected and destroyed by lying? The veneer of cleanliness when it's known not to be true is weak. Do they realize that it would be easier and better for everyone to confess, endure the brief public flogging and get on with their lives?

It's all part of the creation and demolition of a monster that defines the state of fame and "respect" in the world today. Unrealistic and farcical, money and accolades are presented as the carrot for everyone to gain based on someone's rare talent be it as an athlete, an actor, a writer or a whatever. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the same people who were flunkies for a star like Clemens are abandoning him with the desperation and frequency of shipwreck survivors.

The public at large doesn't want the truth; the corporations and public entities basing sales on the image of a Clemens; of a Lance Armstrong; of a Mel Gibson----persons larger than life, determined and professional, shining examples of what can be accomplished----can't allow them to be seen as human beings like the rest of us; they can't be anything less than perfect and above reproach.

Of course this makes them ripe for a fall the type which Clemens is experiencing now.

Congress isn't immune to this phenomenon either. Defense of Clemens generally fell along partisan lines because the Republican party is supposedly based on hard work, family and faith; Clemens's carefully crafted public persona as a no-nonsense gunslinger who gave his all and did whatever he could to win was directly in line with the Republican platform.

Did the Republicans believe Clemens any more than the Democrats who pressured him as he testified? It's doubtful, but falling in line with the need to garner support and get elected, it's unsurprising; a big part of that support is fealty to the factions and accruing money from people like Clemens and those close to him. By close, I don't mean "friends"; I mean mutually advantageous acquaintances. Now the indictment has come down and Clemens is going to be publicly ravaged for what will drag on and on and it's possible that he'll go to prison.

Does Clemens deserve to go to jail? Technically, if he lied under oath, then yes; but this isn't about the letter of the law. The intent of Congress with these indictments of famous athletes Marion Jones, Barry Bonds and Clemens, isn't to put them in jail because they present a danger to society; it's an example to others that their actions have consequences and they cannot lie under oath. Whether or not they believe it's going to work or they're only moving forward because they have no choice is unclear. Clemens isn't going to do much, if any jail time if he's convicted.

This is indicative of the larger issue of indulging the star at the expense of his humanity. It's too easy to absolve them of guilt by saying, "they don't know any better"; or that "maybe they don't remember what happened"; or that they weren't told exactly what they were being injected with to maintain plausible deniability. These compromises extend to another playing field----the world itself----and lead to downfalls the likes of Clemens. But this problem is not going to simply go away and he's never going to admit what he did. He's either convinced himself of innocence or will cling to the story even if it ends as we all know it will, with public shame, abandonment and humiliation.

When someone is so pampered; so enabled and has his problems "fixed" by people in power in exchange for money, support and assistance, how can they have a concept of what's acceptable and not?

Sometimes it's a freeing process to lose that carefully scripted persona. Rather than being what's expected, the individual can be him/herself; but what if they lost the "real" person somewhere along the line? What if the self-image of infallibility due to connections corrupted whatever they actually were? Then what? All that's left is the story and they'll do anything to keep it and suit their own ends; and if that means going through what Clemens is right now, so be it.

Reality is manipulated to fit the whims of the star as long as he's of use. Once said use is exhausted, he sees who his real friends are. Some are able to accept this and some aren't. Maybe they'll try to use someone who genuinely cares about them in a last-ditch effort to save themselves and validate the lie. If the friend knows the truth and still wants to help, he won't assist in the ruse.

Will someone like Clemens or anyone who is so immersed in their fantasy realize this and ask for help to start over? Most anyone is salvageable. It's not as if Clemens is the epitome of evil in the world and his dedication to baseball and generosity in charity work has been extensive.

It's easier to grasp at straws, impugn the reputation of a former errand boy like Brian McNamee because of his presentation as a furtive and seedy user who latched onto the star as a means of advancing himself; easier to run from facts and count on blind support. But once the usefulness of a Clemens is exhausted, those who were his "friends" move onto the next conduit to their own ends; then what's Clemens left with?

Once the ability to differentiate between friends, users and enemies is gone, a falling star like Clemens has little to hold onto aside from his self-created reputation; and that grip is slipping.

He's left with this shell of what he was in likeness and perception; in greatness on the field and kindness off of it. What he's not able to comprehend is that the end result of failing to accept and admit the truth yields an identical result with no chance of redemption.

History is important to Clemens and if he follows the blueprint of Pete Rose and Mark McGwire and waits until the bitter end to confess his sins, he's only making things worse. This is clear to everyone aside from the individual trying to save himself and the accompanying apology is hollow and unconvincing.

Clemens was a Hall of Famer before he was alleged to have taken any drugs. His career was exemplary and despite his off-field transgressions (which should have nothing to do with his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame) he does deserve induction.

Eventually everything bubbles to the surface in one way or another. O.J. Simpson "O.J.'d" his way out of conviction in the murder trial of his ex-wife, but was found liable in the civil trial and, while it took another 12 years for him to get caught doing something which would put him away, it happened. Charm and affability can only take you so far; when the public has had it, they've had it.

Then what?

Then you have this. You have Roger Clemens insisting on his innocence, likely to be destitute and convicted by the time it's over and having demolished everything for which he worked.

It all could've been avoided had he followed the lead of his friend Andy Pettitte and confessed; had he not felt he was entitled because he was such a great pitcher and had so many powerful "friends", maybe he would've. He's blind to any and all honesty as to the bind he's in. What he did in using PEDs was what a vast majority of athletes were (and probably still are) doing; but the lies mounted; the pressure increased and the construction caved.

In many ways Clemens doesn't deserve this; but in many other ways, he does. What's worse is that the wake-up call won't be heeded and he'll hasten his own descent.

One can only hope that he gives in before his whole world is irretrievably ruined.

But I think we all know he won't.

And it's a shame.

  • Viewer Mail 8.20.2010:

Max Stevens writes RE the Mets:

I think you're right when you say that the Mets 2010 season needs to be viewed with some perspective. I'm a Met fan and if you told me in April that they'd have a legitimate shot at being a .500 team by the end of the season, I would have been very pleased. Their play down the stretch has been frustratingly uninspired, but the season hasn't been that bad when you view it with a broader perspective. Having said this, though, I think Kevin Towers would be a great fit for the Mets. I'm just not sure 2011 is the right year to bring him in. Why not let him build the team from the ground up after 2011 when a lot of the bad contracts come off the books? The Wilpons may see things differently and try to give the appearance of being more immediately responsive to the perception that change is necessary right away. But I think they'll be better served if they take a morre far sighted view of things, like a five-year plan, and ride out the rest of this season and next with Omar Minaya.

I could live with Towers, but I still don't see Minaya being let go because his record isn't as bad as is portrayed and because of the money he's owed. I said weeks ago that he'll get a few months into the 2011 season to save himself. My guess is that after the season, a big name manager will be brought in to run the team on the field with Minaya as GM.

Even if they do make a change, the Mets have never brought in an outsider to be the GM under this ownership. It will either be assistant GM John Ricco taking over or Rays assistant Gerry Hunsicker.

The ripping on the Mets, as I've said repeatedly, is done out of convenience more than anything. They're an easy target and are treated as such.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Tyler Kepner's column on the Mets----Decision on Minaya Will Be Telling for Mets:

Very good article by Tyler Kepner today. Interesting idea about Kevin Towers too.

Towers is going to end up with the Cubs.

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Charlie Finley and free agency:

Why wouldn't Charlie Finley's dream come true (RE: 1 year contracts all around)?

Would that be considered to be collusion?

I expect that if the owners DID try something like that there would be a revolt among players and the union, possibly leading to another strike.

But something has to be done about MLB's union and its overbearing strong-arming. This has gone waaaay beyond what Curt Flood & Co. were actually fighting for.

I don't know how that could be regulated if owners simply stopped giving long term contracts. They own the teams and if they refuse to dole out these deals as a group and admit it publicly, is that collusion? Could they form something like an "owners union" and withstand the blowback?

History has said no, but they have the excuse with the implementation of stats and "value" of players along with the country's dire financial straits. That said, many of the owners didn't get into the position to own a big league team by sharing and banding together with others in ruthless business practices. It's not happening.

The initial intent of fairness of Curt Flood's fight has morphed into this----players doing what they want with impunity, guaranteed to get their money no matter how they behave. They're hypnotized; and once an individual is indoctrinated into the group, it takes a strong mind to escape even if they know what's happening is wrong. Of course, the owners would take advantage of any crack in the union monolith and things would transform again over the course of 20-30 years.

It's unavoidable.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE Carl Pavano, Joe Torre and the Mets draft practices:

Pavano ~ Specifically, Kenny Rogers, Kevin Brown, Kyle Farnsworth and Javier Vazquez have had that same look on the mound as Pavano did early on.

I'm sure Chad Curtis has a thing or two to say about Torre. Torre was cut-throat. St. Joe? Cold-hearted Joe? He was both. If he didn't like you, you were out of luck. He'd mesmerize the press also. He was in complete control of his Q and A's. Players didn't even know he was telling the press they sucked.

MLB Draft ~ Hmmm. You're both right (just sayin..). You never can tell as you say, yet we have a nice little list to show now. BUT, the Wilpons are committed, instituted or not to slotting. That's why they came in 20th. Boras or not, Wilpons are staunch believers in a structured scale for these picks. That's them. I'm on the fence about it because again, you both make a good case. To me it one of those "it is what it is" things.

The results were similar with Pavano, Rogers, Brown and Vazquez; but while the effect was the same, I can't agree on the cause. Rogers and Brown were bad fits for New York and the Yankees and Vazquez's troubles aren't due to a lack of effort.

Torre was calculating enough to get the star players on his side and the ancillary guys were disposable. Once it was clear that Pavano wasn't going to produce, Torre washed his hands of him. Part of it was Torre trying to get through to Pavano and Pavano not wanting to hear it.

Draft arguments can go on forever.

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Can you handle the truth?


She-Fan said...

What worries me as a Yankee fan is Pettitte having to testify at the trial, whenever it is. He escaped having to sit across the room from Clemens last time, but I'm sure he'll be called for this round. It's bound to be tough for him.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

I would think it will be easier for Andy this time. Clemens said the two don't even speak to each other anymore. His wife will probably be the one to do him in. It's just a matter of asking the right questions. He refused a plea to avert jail time so I guess he's committed to the process. The Gov't already called him a liar. The damage is done. Someone tell Suzyn Waldman she can start crying now.