The Week That Was in Baseball: February 11-17, 2008
The Steroid Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Nanny The Year of the Cub?
Gregg Zaun's Believe It or Not So Long, Mr. Lodigiani

Live and Let Lie
This week’s congressional hearings in Washington featuring Roger Clemens and former trainer Brian McNamee revealed no case-breaking admissions, but a continued ramping up of each one’s assertions that the other was lying. We initially were going to take a random sampling of sports columnists around the country to gauge the diversity of opinions on the hearing, but we found that they all pretty much said the same thing: McNamee is no choir boy, but he came off far more credible than Clemens—and Andy Pettitte’s deposition stating Clemens’ admitted HGH use only made the Rocket’s foundation all the more shaky. So we decided instead to ask some questions, listed below:

Who would have guessed a few weeks ago that Clemens would not admit to steroid use—but that his wife would? And how does Debbie Clemens, Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch get poked in the butt by McNamee, while Clemens himself does not?

How could Pettitte be told of Clemens’ wife’s HGH use in 1999 or 2000 when Clemens claimed under oath that she didn’t take it until 2003?

Why was so much time spent on the Jose Canseco party? To prove that McNamee lies? Does a “false in one, false in all” argument wash with the general public, especially when we’re talking something inconsequential as a barbecue party that’s far removed from the general question: Did Clemens take steroids?

Even if the Canseco party was important, what was Clemens doing bringing his ex-nanny into his house when she should have been on her way to Washington to be interviewed by the committee?

How is it that everything regarding steroids always seem to come back to Canseco?

When will lead Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin learn to shut the hell up when it’s wisest for him to do so?

Why did Congressman Dan Burton understand that the reason McNamee was lying to the media back in the day was because it was all part of the baseball culture of the time, to deny everything related to steroids? Remember Rafael Palmeiro, Mr. Burton? Or Barry Bonds? Or Jay Gibbons? Or Canseco? Or are you too busy being fondling that autographed Clemens ball on your desk?

Would Clemens lie in a desperate attempt to save his reputation, knowing that if convicted he could be pardoned by President Bush in the next year because of Clemens’ close ties to the Bush family (as McNamee lawyer Richard Emery theorizes)? And would that explain why so many Republicans soft-tossed with Clemens while playing hardball with McNamee?

Was it a genuinely stupid move, in retrospect, for the players’ union not to allow their members to speak with George Mitchell?

And finally: When will Commissioner Bud Selig smell the steroids, realize what his passive leadership has wrought and step aside so a real commissioner can seriously attempt to amend baseball’s sorry reputation?

Word of the Week
Contrary to what many may believe, the Concise Oxford Dictionary does have a listing for the word “misremember.” And after Wednesday’s hearing, you can imagine how many Internet junkies tried in vain to acquire the domain name

Zaun Artist
For sheer originality, Gregg Zaun’s story for how he ended up as a steroid suspect in the Mitchell Report tops any other given thus far. The Toronto catcher said the $500 check that appears in the report was not meant to buy steroids from clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, but to pay off a basketball bet he lost to Jason Grimsley, then a teammate in Kansas City and later nailed as a steroid user and middleman. So how did Radomski’s name show up on the check? According to Zaun, he gave Grimsley the check but forgot to fill in who he was paying to the order of; Grimsley, it is assumed, then put Radomski’s name on the blank line and sent it off. Zaun had no award-winning story to give for his other mention in the Mitchell Report; in 2002, Montreal Expo bullpen catcher Luis Perez claimed he “personally supplied” anabolic steroids to Zaun. The report also says Zaun was contacted to respond to the allegations, but refused. (Or, the players’ union refused on his behalf.)

Lo Down on Lo Duca
Unlike Zaun, fellow Mitchell Report target Paul Lo Duca took a page out of Jason Giambi’s notebook when he finally spoke publicly last Saturday about his alleged steroid use, apologizing for past “mistakes” without directly referencing the s-word. Lo Duca, now a member of the Washington Nationals, was asked by a reporter to be more specific, to which Lo Duca replied, “C’mon bro, next question.”

In honor of the Chicago Cubs' 100th anniversary of their last World Series title, This Great Game is counting down the 40 years between 1909 and 2007 in which the Cubs came nearest to winning another. Our Tragical History Tour of Wrigleyville continues this week with:

37. 1967 87 Wins, 74 Losses
Third Place, 14 Games Back
A year after suffering the worst record (59-103) in franchise history, the Cubs performed an amazing turnaround in 1967 and, on numerous occasions in July, were tied for first in the ten-team NL. But then the team stalled for the duration of the season while the St. Louis Cardinals stormed away with the pennant. Still, it was a breath of fresh air for Cubbie fans, who hadn’t seen excitement like this at Wrigley Field since the Cubs’ last World Series appearance 22 years earlier. Pitching and defense was primarily responsible for the Cubs’ rebound back to respectability; Ken Holtzman finished 9-0 in a year shortened by a mid-season stint in the military, 22-year old rookie Joe Niekro recorded a 10-7 mark, and Ferguson Jenkins—finally given a chance to start—began a run of six consecutive 20-win seasons. Overall, the Cubs’ ERA dropped by a full run to 3.48, while its defense led the NL in fielding and fewest errors.


This Year, Definitely
Perhaps Ryan Dempster thinks the law of percentages is too great for anything else to happen to the Chicago Cubs; the team’s closer said this past week that he truly believes the Cubs, 100 years after winning their last World Series, will finally win another in 2008. “Enough of all the… curse this, the curse that, the goat, the black cat, or the 100 years,” Dempster told the Chicago media after reporting to camp in Arizona. Cub manager Lou Piniella, who was forced to live with a similar prognostication last year from ace Carlos Zambrano, was fine with Dempster’s guarantee, stating, “I like the confidence our players have.”

Honeymoon Over Miami
In the midst of a crippling real estate market and emerging recession in the Sunshine State, it was something of a surprise to hear this past week that the Florida Marlins have come to an agreement with the City of Miami and Dade County to build a new ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl, slated to be torn down. The deal is hardly set in stone—county and city commissioners need to approve—but that negotiations reached this level of agreement is sweet music to the ears of Marlin baseball fans. The deal is estimated to come with a $515 million price tag, $155 million of which will come from the Marlins—which shouldn’t be a problem, given that Marlin owner Jeffrey Loria has been saving up a lot of cash as TGG recently opined.

Dario Lodigiani, 1916-2008
A few weeks ago we posted Ed Attanasio’s recent interview with former major leaguer Dario Lodigiani, in which he talked of good friend Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn Monroe and spending the good life on Hawaii during World War II. We were sad to hear that Lodigiani died on February 10 in Napa, California. The San Francisco Chronicle obit for Lodigiani, sent in by family and friends, included this passage: “God bless the many, many angels of the Queen of the Valley Medical Center and the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox,” the latter reference for the team who employed Lodigiani until his death. We here at TGG express our condolences to the Lodigiani family.

He Said What?
Detroit pitcher Kenny Rogers, on the Mitchell Report: “The report was great in a lot of ways, but it missed a lot of guys, easily hundreds, maybe more.”

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.