MLB Steroid Scandal Heads Back to Capitol Hill

Paul Kasabian

Last Sunday, I e-mailed our section’s writers asking them if anyone was interested in tackling the post-Mitchell Report fallout involving Roger Clemens’ alleged steroid use and Brian McNamee’s purported honesty. Unfortunately, no one accepted the assignment, simply for the fact that few sports fans care any longer about this ongoing saga. Congress, CNN and even ESPN all overrated the importance of this issue. The only reason why it continues to receive so much attention from the media and pundits alike is because there are not any other events worth reporting or covering at the very moment. The average sports fan has nothing to look forward to until March Madness. As a result, we are coerced into hearing about the bizarre and overhyped fiasco that has become baseball’s greatest problem.

For starters, did you know that Congress has a 22% approval rating in the latest polls? That is a whole eight percentage points lower than our very own president. Don’t be surprised to see it dip even further after this calamity. Why are our tax dollars being put towards holding Congressional hearings on performance-enhancing drugs? I have a theory. Did you know who Congressmen Henry Waxman or Dan Burton were before last week’s proceedings? In the back of their minds, I think they wanted their 15 minutes of fame when they had the chance. My other gut feeling is that every Congressman wanted to take a shot to at Clemens.

For instance, Congressman Elijah Cummings remarked, “It’s hard to believe you, sir, I hate to say that. You’re one of my heroes. But it’s hard to believe.”

Yes, it’s very hard to believe Roger Clemens, but it’s even harder to believe Congress allocated time on their agenda to incorporate this mess. Congressman Waxman even admitted his mistake in judgment late last week by saying that the hearing should have never taken place.

Sports Illustrated has a feature where they find the most bizarre moment that occurred in the sports world during the past week and post it in their rag. How appropriate is it that we find out that Debbie Clemens used human-growth hormone two weeks prior to her photoshoot in the 2003 SI Swimsuit issue? It certainly wasn’t one of the Rocket’s classier actions when he said he was aware of the HGH injections. He’ll defend himself to the death against his own steroid accusations, yet he won’t do the same for his wife. That leaves me speechless.

Still, Clemens is right with at least some of his claims. In the event he is innocent; his name will undoubtedly remain tainted for time immemorial. For proof, just take a look at the Duke Lacrosse scandal. Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans will always be known as the players alleged for raping a dancer in an off-campus house during the spring of 2006. Likewise, Clemens will be known more for his supposed steroid use than the pitcher who won seven Cy Young’s. The same follows for Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Chuck Knoblauch and Miguel Tejada, among other notable steroid offenders.

Looking towards the future, will the steroid talk ever dissipate into the background? I think its possible for this issue to die down after baseball develops a rigorous test for HGH and once both Bonds and Clemens fade into the backdrop. By my count, the steroid controversy officially began with Tom Verducci’s SI story about 1996 MVP Ken Caminiti’s steroid use, which was written in May 2002. We’re almost at the six-year mark and it does not appear to be losing any steam. All I know is that the average sports fan would rather watch C-Span or Rocky IV on a running loop than listen to the figureheads debate the efficacy of steroid use in professional sports. Then again, I’d watch Rocky IV on a running loop over a lot of things, even if Ivan Drago is a dirty, steroid-inflicted cheater.