Clemens Pulls a Palmeiro

So the previously silent Roger Clemens decided to let the entire world know “the truth” on 60 Minutes, thanks to some old-fashioned poking and prodding from 90-year-old Mike Wallace. The show will air this Sunday, but don’t bother rearranging your social schedule or setting the TiVo to see it. Wallace is too old to ask the tough questions and the only interesting words from Roger’s mouth is pure “Palmeirospeak”.

That’s right, Roger speaks candidly about his relationship with trainer Brian McNamee, and addresses the issue of being injected. And now the “big bombshell”: he ADMITS to being injected! Though, not with steroids.

Yes, Roger pulled a “Palmeiro” — or at least, set himself up for one. While it will be nice on Sunday to directly hear Clemens vehemently denying taking any performance-enhancing drugs — rather than getting that message through a conduit such as his lawyer — the question is not whether or not he did PEDs. The question is whether he stole the “not knowingly” tactic from Rafael Palmeiro or Barry Bonds. As you’ll hear on Sunday, it would appear that he’s using Palmeiro’s tried-and-true method of claiming he was getting injected with B-12. No doubt there will be something in the future pinpointing Clemens’ use of steroids and/or HGH, and he’ll harken back to this 60 Minutes “admission” of injection and claim he thought that McNamee was shooting him up with vitamins. Sure, Roger, we believe you — athletes of your stature rarely question the substances that are injected into their bodies. You’re all just a bunch of ignorant racehorses, wrapped in million-dollar bodies.

But then, the obnoxious assertions against the allegations that fly in the face of logic and assume that we are all blithering idiots comes right out of the Bonds Book of Denial — so maybe it wasn’t Palmeirospeak after all.

Here’s how it works: player uses the “unknowingly used” gambit to appear the victim, while simultaneously claiming to being completely oblivious to the fact that no naturally occurring substance could possibly push him to previously unreachable levels. It was all in his dedication to the workout, wasn’t it?

The Mitchell Report states what we’ve all guessed for a decade: Clemens was able to become the best pitcher in baseball history in his late 30s in much the same way Bonds was able to become the best hitter in history during the same age range — from technology, and specifically, performance-enhancing drugs.

Let’s get serious here … when you get into your early 30s — never mind your late 30s — your body starts breaking down. The things you could do as a 25-year-old are no longer possible. Hand-eye coordination starts to regress, the speed with which you can move your arms and legs slows, reaction time increases, and recovery becomes a more difficult process. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to know these things — all you need to do is drink a little too much one night, and try to wake up and go to work the next morning. Ain’t so easy anymore, is it? If you’re still under 30, then ask one of your elders. Or take a look at the stats of guys like Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile, Dale Murphy, or Jim Rice — specifically, check out their numbers before and after their early 30s. Funny, isn’t it, how their average and power just plummets? Yes, at least part of it has to do with conditioning, but even a tremendous commitment to conditioning does not turn an aging ballplayer into something other-worldly.

There is no doubt that Roger Clemens was one of the hardest working ballplayers of his era. His training program is legendary. The same could be said of Bonds. But there is no way we can believe that these athletes were able to be three or four times as good in their late 30s as they
were in their 20s — not without some chemical help, anyway. To quote Vizzini from Princess Bride, it’s simply implausible.

What IS plausible, is that these players are in denial. I pulled this directly from Wikipedia:

Denial of fact: This form of denial is where someone avoids a fact by lying. This lying can take the form of an outright falsehood (commission), leaving out certain details in order to tailor a story (omission), or by falsely agreeing to something (assent, also referred to as “yesing” behavior). Someone who is in denial of fact is typically using lies in order to avoid facts that they think may be potentially painful to themselves or others.

Denial of responsibility: This form of denial involves avoiding personal responsibility by blaming, minimizing or justifying. Blaming is a direct statement shifting culpability and may overlap with denial of fact. Minimizing is an attempt to make the effects or results of an action appear to be less harmful than they may actually be. Justifying is when someone takes a choice and attempts to make that choice look okay due to their perception of what is “right” in a situation. Someone using denial of responsibility is usually attempting to avoid potential harm or pain by shifting attention away from themselves.

Denial of impact: Denial of impact involves a person avoiding thinking about or understanding the harms their behavior have caused to themselves or others. By doing this, that person is able to avoid feeling a sense of guilt and it can prevent that person from developing remorse or empathy for others. Denial of impact reduces or eliminates a sense of pain or harm from poor decisions.

Denial of awareness: This type of denial is best discussed by looking at the concept of state dependent learning[1]. People using this type of denial will avoid pain and harm by stating they were in a different state of awareness (such as alcohol or drug intoxication or on occasion mental health related). This type of denial often overlaps with denial of responsibility.

Denial of cycle: Many who use this type of denial will say things such as, “it just happened.” Denial of cycle is where a person avoids looking at their decisions leading up to an event or does not consider their pattern of decision making and how harmful behavior is repeated. The pain and harm being avoided by this type of denial is more of the effort needed to change the focus from a singular event to looking at preceding events. It can also serve as a way to blame or justify behavior (see above).

Denial of denial: This can be a difficult concept for many people to identify in themselves, but is a major barrier to changing hurtful behaviors. Denial of denial involves thoughts, actions and behaviors which bolster confidence that nothing needs to be changed in one’s personal behavior. This form of denial typically overlaps with all of the other forms of denial, but involves more self-delusion.

Sounds all too familiar, from too many players, doesn’t it?

Legally, there likely won’t be enough evidence to put Roger Clemens behind bars — and I’m not convinced a steroid user should be jailed anyway. But he’s already convicted in the court of public opinion, and some weak interview on 60 Minutes won’t change that. Rather, it makes him more despicable.

Please, Roger, spare us from the assumption that we are morons — it’s not becoming. We know you’re desperate to get into the Hall of Fame, but you’ll still have a strong chance of making it, even with the knowledge of your misdeeds. Americans tend to be forgiving — but only when the perpetrator admits to his mistakes and asks for forgiveness.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
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