What Happens on C-SPAN, Stays on C-SPAN
Okay, so some of you might have thought of Tuesday’s Congressional hearings in Washington featuring Commissioner Bud Selig, baseball union head Don Fehr and former Senator George Mitchell as, compared to the historic hearings three years ago, kind of like Starship Troopers IIfar less flamboyant, far less star-studded and far less memorable. What, you have never knew there was a sequel to Starship Troopers? My point, exactly.
Blame It on Orza?
For all of the yawning that the hearings supposedly brought out of TV audiences, there were some intriguing moments. To wit: If you ask Mitchell, you get the feeling he believes Roger Clemens is a lying rat. In his testimony to Congress, Mitchell said he interviewed Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee three timesincluding a final phone conversation in which he gave McNamee a chance to recant the assertion that he injected Clemens with steroids. (McNamee, facing felony perjury charges if he lied, stuck to his story.) But more interestingly, Mitchell said he twice attempted to contact Clemens through the players’ union to give him a chance to rebut McNamee’s statements. This contradicts Clemens’ 60 Minutes comment in which he claimed Mitchell never told him of McNamee; of course, there’s always the possibility that the union, which advised all players to stay away from Mitchell, swatted down the request like it was a fly in the office and never relayed the note to Clemens.
Yes, Let's Blame It on Orza
When Congressman Mark Souder queried Fehr about “gene doping,” Fehr must have initially thought, “Oh nothey know about Gene Orza.” That entered our minds as well, given all the rumors (some of it substantiated in the Mitchell Report) that Orza, the union’s Number Two, went out of his way to warn players in advance about upcoming drug tests.
Alas, Poor Miguel
Of all the prime time players given the unwanted spotlight in the Mitchell Report, Miguel Tejada had been the one to remain curiously absent in the public eyeas if the four-time All-Star shortstop was playing a “If I lay low, maybe they’ll forget” defense. Any such strategy was shredded at Tuesday’s hearings, when House Representative Henry Waxman fingered Tejada as untruthful when stating to the committee three years ago that he never took steroids. With Tejada’s name in the Mitchell Report, Waxman called for the Justice Department to look into Tejada’s statements. By the end of Tuesday, all of this was likely the last thing on Tejada’s mind: Earlier in the day, his older brother was killed in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic.
Side Effects of a Devil's Deal
Barry Bonds may be long gone from the San Francisco Giants, but his ghost continues to make life difficult for the team. Congress suggested that Selig discipline Giant general manager Brian Sabean for knowingand doing nothing aboutthe fact that Bonds’ trainer Greg Anderson was in the team clubhouse offering up steroids to players. Sabean was told about Anderson from then-Giant trainer Stan Conte (we’re telling you for the last timehe’s not related to BALCO founder Victor Conte), but when told to confront Anderson, Conte refused on the grounds that it would compromise his trust with Giant players. (On top of that, he never reported Anderson’s presence to Bud Seligthough even if he did, would Selig have done anything about it?) All of this underscores the absolute fear that the Giants, from top to bottom, had for Bondsas our recent TGG Opinion suggested.
WADA Ya' Talkin' About?
Major League Baseball has retained a curious stiff-arm toward the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), the independent agency that has offered to help preside over baseball’s drug testing program. Part of what has led to this attitude was revealed to the public this past week in a round of nasty press releases in which each party bashed the other. WADA president John Fahey initiated the spat when he criticized baseball’s program for being ineffective and untrustworthy. MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred responded in scathing kind by assailing Fahey’s comments as a “publicity stunt.” WADA may have a holier-than-thou persona, but it does have a much better track record at nailing performance-enhanced athletes than MLBwhich under Bud Selig’s watch has overzealously strived to be in control of anything and everything.
Fact to Fiction?
There’s trouble on the set of Vindicated, the sequel to Jose Canseco’s best-selling 2005 book Juiced. Berkley Books announced that it was dropping the project, in part because the book would not meet its target release date of Opening Day. That delay is due, in part, to Canseco’s switch of a contributor on the book. Originally, Canseco was working with Don Yaeger, a former associate editor for Sports Illustrated. But Yaeger has reportedly withdrawn, and Canseco has replaced him with Pablo Fenjvesthe man who ghostwrote the utterly bizarre and controversial If I Did It for O.J. Simpson. If Canseco is looking for more respectability, bringing Fenjves to the table is a dubious maneuver.
It's Not All About Barry
For those who believe that the Feds are keeping BALCO alive just to nail Barry Bonds, here’s something to think about: This past week, Dana Stubblefielda name familiar among football fans but one hardly worthy of household statuspleaded guilty for perjury when he lied under oath during the BALCO grand jury hearings in 2003. Stubblefield faces up to six months in jail.
The "All" of Fame: Check it Out
Currently topping out opinion section is This Great Game’s “All of Fame,” our tongue-in-cheek look at the history of baseball, with many of the exhibits within featured in detail throughout TGG. The “All” is, as our headline for the piece describes, a primer of sorts for the site, especially for those who’ve never visited. Check out the "All" right here.
Coming January 28: A Century of Cub Futility
Starting next week, the Comebacker will present the first installment of “Wait ‘til Next Century: Close Calls in a Chicago Cub Century Without Championships,” a year-long tribute to the Cubs’ 100 years without a World Series title. We’ll give you the 40 seasons since 1908 in which the Cubs got somewhat close, fairly close or really close to smelling Fall Classic Champagne, starting with number 40 and ending on October 26 with the team’s biggest near-miss (or would that be near-hit?). The Tragical History Tour of Wrigleyville starts soon.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.