Have we had enough of trying to un-do the past? I am referring to the expensive and futile trials of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose cases are relevant to the ongoing pursuit of Lance Armstrong.
The charges against Bonds and Clemens ultimately failed because Major League Baseball allowed itself to be stonewalled by Donald Fehr and the Players Association long enough to avoid adequate rules and testing during the time of the steroids plague.
By the same token, cycling was a swarm of corruption because every layer of that sport did not want to know – the Tour de France, the international federation, the sponsors, the media. Now the United States Anti-Doping Agency is going after Armstrong, who was beating riders who were ultimately caught cheating. Some of them are now giving testimony that Armstrong was the ringleader of cheating by his team.
Some of the potential witnesses were loyal teammates of Armstrong. Their testimony could be important. But before going any further, USADA ought to look at the Clemens trial.
The best thing Clemens had going for him was his accuser. McNamee was always a sleaze, even dressed up in a suit and tie for court or Congress, and he could never escape the aura of creepiness.
The second best thing Clemens had going was the soft-minded indecisiveness of Andy Pettitte, his old buddy, who could not stay on message during his testimony. Pettitte probably received bad coaching from the same prosecutors who blew the first trial. They never had a chance the second time. The case should never have been re-tried.
Nevertheless, we all pretty much know what Clemens is, a bully and a blowhard, and we have a pretty good idea that he cheated. Now he will be judged by time, and the public, and also by the baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame.
The New York Times does not allow its writers to vote for awards in any field. If I did have a vote, I would not cast it for Clemens or Bonds because I have no doubt they juiced and lied about it. A whole generation – including Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro and Canseco -- is going to be judged by this odd scruffy jury with long memories.
Nobody likes being conned.
One thing we have learned from these failed trials is that everybody needs to upgrade their laws and their senses to avoid the next round of plagues in every sport – doping, brain damage, gambling, sex abuse, corruption in American scholastic and college sports. Let’s fight the next battles.
What’s your reaction?
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.