Monday, January 14, 2013

Game called on count of reign: The U.S. prosecutors who whiffed on Roger Clemens have all gone home

Last week, the national gaggle of professional Gammonites - those obese and balding poets of the game, whose mission is to report each day on whom the Yankees will not obtain - did what the U.S. government could not do: Take down Roger Clemens. They ignored him for the Hall of Fame. Why?

a. He used steroids.
b. He lied about using steroids.
c. He refuses to apologize for lying and using steroids.
d. He lies about refusing to apologize for lying and using steroids.
e. He refuses to apologize for lying about refusing to apologize for lying and using steroids.
f. He's a former Yankee who refuses to apologize for lying about refusing... oh, hell with this... you get the picture, right? If not, Bleacher Report surely has a posting written just for you.

But getting back to the guv. For five years, three prosecutors in the U.S. Department of Justice apparently had nothing better to do than pursue Roger Clemens. Theoretically, they had a slam dunk. And they whiffed. Which pretty much sums up the government's epic battle with Barry Bonds. They spent millions, for what? To put asterisks on their foreheads? To maintain the moral purity of Cooperstown? (See Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, et al.)

Now we hear that the three lead prosecutors in Clemens' prosecution have left the Washington U.S. Attorney’s office.  Two have gone into private practice, where they'll make more money. Great. Whenever a government lawyer goes into private practice, an angel gets her wings. This comes with the news last week about the death of Aaron Swartz, the founder of Reddit and a certifiable Big Bang-level geek, who was hounded by U.S. attorneys over a bogus case until the poor sap hung himself. Too bad. They were never going to put him in jail. They were just messing with his head. And, of course, he would never make the Hall of Fame.

Listen: We are a nation of written law - the first and foremost being: If a fly ball is hit to an infielder with less than two outs and runners on first and second base, the batter is immediately declared out, and the runners can advance on their own peril. This law makes sense. But I wonder how the U.S. Justice Department would prosecute it? (Last year, in the NL playoffs, the whole country suddenly couldn't decide on it.)

It doesn't matter who is President. It doesn't matter who you are. There will always be self-righteous swine-boogers who cloak themselves in robes, or wigs, or diplomas, and look to take down somebody for the sake of showing their power. God save us from the witch hunts. God spare us from the secret tribunals. This is the U.S. government that put Martha Stewart in prison while the banking industry was looting the treasury. This is the government that chases Roger Clemens, while Goldman Sachs turns the economy into a Ponzi scheme.

Well, Roger and Barry didn't make the Hall - this year. They will, someday. A new generation of Gammonites will look back and wonder how the sportswriting profession turned into a clown court, and it will vote them in. They will old and withered, maybe dead from the abuse their bodies took - in part from the drugs they surely ingested (like 80 percent of the others.) They will probably be no less defiant. They will refuse to apologize for lying about refusing to apologize for lying and using steroids. And the prosecutors? They will do the same.

We will look back and ask the question that every generation asks: WTF?

See you in Cooperstown, circa 2020. That is, unless we're all in prison.

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