Roger Clemens, the greatest pitcher of our generation, has gone into hiding. His defiance led him there.
This spring, the poster-child for baseball’s steroids era, Mark McGwire, came clean about his drug use, finally admitting to taking steroids for over ten years. The announcement was newsworthy at the time but eventually, we all moved on. McGwire now sits on the St Louis Cardinals bench as their hitting coach, his past now behind him.
McGwire’s confession may exclude him from Cooperstown but at least baseball now has a sense of closure when it comes to his achievements. Clemens, on the other hand, still refuses to come clean, assuming of course, he took anything at all.
Like McGwire, Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi also admitted guilt and are no longer under the microscope. Clemens has not. His legacy hangs in the balance.
The scenario for Clemens is different from other players for he boldly told a grand jury he never took steroids. Admission now could result in more than just keeping him off a Hall of Fame ballot.
Until Clemens comes clean, baseball’s recent history remains burdened with mistruths and a rocket who has lost his way.
A Kobe vs LeBron Finals
Last year, Nike invested millions of dollars in their Kobe and LeBron Muppets campaign. The 2009 NBA Finals were supposed to have a fairy tale ending with either LeBron or Kobe wearing the crown at season’s end.
One of them ultimately did. The only problem was the other didn’t even make it to the Finals. With another early Cavalier exit in 2010, the NBA Finals will be LeBron-less once again. Nike should probably consider shelving their LeBron muppet and mix in a Dwight Howard model. Unfortunately for Phil Knight, Howard wears Adidas.
Game Five for LeBron against the Celtics was far more pedestrian than MVP-like. Starting the Muppet might have been more productive. Game Six’s loss left the rumblings of his leaving Cleveland louder than ever. The city is in mourning and once again title-less.
Rivalries, however, have to be genuine; they can’t be manufactured. Boston-L.A. is the NBA’s greatest rivalry. Old school basketball fans must be craving that potential match-up. Or what’s wrong with the fledgling Los Angeles-Orlando rivalry? Both towns have Mickey Mouse and both once had Shaquille.
So, once again Nike sits and waits another year for their dream Muppet matchup while LeBron is left to wonder what could have been.
Baseball’s all-time wins record being broken
They don’t call it the Cy Young Award for nothing. That’s because Young is in sole possession of one of baseball’s most untouchable records: 511 career wins.
Tom Glavine recently retired… with 305 wins. Randy Johnson also recently called it a career with 303. Both of them pitched for 22 seasons. 300 has become the new 500, granting almost assured entry into the Hall of Fame to any who reach that number.
The game has changed, however, some feel for the worse. The modern game has become much more reliant on bullpen and closers. With so much emphasis on pitch count and rotation, starting pitchers no longer go the distance. As a result, innings pitched and complete games are all on the decline.
Major League Baseball has given us no indication this will change, meaning Young’s wins record remains among the most unattainable in sports. Year after year, two pitchers win the award in his name but none will ever match his longevity.
The return of the heavyweight division
Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield. Remember those guys? A good friend and loyal reader recently asked me what heavyweight fight I last remember anticipating. It was a valid question considering the fight I responded with actually took place thirteen years ago and ended with Mike Tyson biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear. No WONDER we’re thirsting for Mayweather-Pacquiao!
As great of a champion as Lennox Lewis was (even though he lost to both Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall), he faced no legitimate competition, the division already watered down by that point. Now we have the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, who share heavyweight titles but who refuse to fight each other. Boxing fans have resorted to watching AMC reruns of Rocky for the eight millionth time to get their fix.
The emergence of MMA, the lack of any structure within the sport and the absence of any charismatic heavyweight champion have led to the decline in professional boxing, meaning the sweet science has left an awfully sour taste in our mouths.
A college football playoff system
When I told a friend, the same one who asked me about the Tyson fight, that I was writing a piece on the ‘Top Ten Things We’d Like to See in Sports, But Won’t Anytime Soon,’ he immediately responded with the need for a college football playoffs. I agreed, as most sports fans probably would.
There’s been talk lately of more conference reshuffling. Where will Rutgers go? Where will Notre Dame land? Which school will become the Big Ten’s twelfth team, if any?
While some schools play musical chairs in the short term, many foresee college football ending up with only a few, multi-school power conferences. The national champion will eventually, and hopefully, be determined in a playoff format, on the field.
Until that day, we’re stuck with computers and coaches’ allegiances telling us which two teams are the best in the land.