Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Congress Asks Justice To Investigate Clemens

It's official: Congress has asked the Justice Dept. to investigate Clemens -- and only Clemens -- for perjuring himself. After the bizarre partisan divide that characterized the hearings (with Republicans mostly protecting Clemens and the Democrats condemning illegal drug use and finding the sad McNamee and saintly Pettitte and others believable), there was speculation the Republicans might insist without cause that they ask Justice to investigate both Clemens and McNamee for perjury despite complete lack of evidence that McNamee perjured himself and a ton of evidence that Clemens did. In the end, the Republicans went with common sense, using the cover of "new evidence" (that photo of Clemens at the party) to pretend they weren't actually obnoxiously partisan at the hearings but were just bowing to new information not previously available. Maybe now illegal drug use and cheating in baseaball can go back to being a non-partisan issue the way it always was in the past.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Letter To The Yankees

Here's the letter I'm going to send to the Yankees. Any other issues I should raise with them about the running of the Stadium? Let me know by Friday.

Dear Brian Cashman,

I’m a season ticket holder in the bleacher section 39 ever since they first became available. Naturally, I’m looking forward to the new season and the new stadium in 2009. Here is some feedback about the running of the Yankees that I hope will be helpful.

1. YES network reruns – the YES network has one major asset: Yankee games and the coverage of its team of reporters. As you know, Yankee Rewind plays the highlights of the game hours later and the next day. Yet for some reason, the post-game coverage is never included. Are they in a rush to get to reruns of “White Shadow?” I attend 40+ home games a season. And of course we never know when a game will end so trying to tape the post-game interviews and clubhouse report etc can be tricky and means recording 7+ hours of TV. The post-game show can be easily edited down to a half hour just like the game itself is edited down. I would love to be able to watch the post-game interviews and record them with ease. Why not include the post-game coverage when you rebroadcast the game? Everyone who is at the game or watching it at a sports bar or a friend’s house would be able to dependably tape the post-game coverage and see it later that day or the next morning. You spend millions of dollars assembling a team of reporters and creating that coverage. Why broadcast it only once?
2. The Numbers Game at the Stadium – the Numbers game is the between innings filler that combines knowledge of Yankee numbers with simple math. However, the real point of the game should be to educate fans about which Yankee players had which numbers. But the way the game is presented obscures this simple and obvious task. It begins by saying something like Babe Ruth’s number plus Derek Jeter’s number equals what number? But when giving the solution, they don’t tell you what number Ruth and Jeter have. The answer should be presented as follows: Babe Ruth’s #3 plus Derek Jeter’s #2 equals Joe DiMaggio’s #5. After a season, a lot more fans would be able to say that Don Mattingly had #23 and Jim Bouton had #56 and so on.
3. The Cap Game – another between inning time killer. It’s basically the shell game with caps. I and most everyone around me could easily follow the ball and have done so for literally a decade without ever picking wrong unless someone blocked our view, spoke to us, etc. Literally NEVER wrong. Until last season. The computer program has been fiddled with. Now it’s completely random where the ball is found and has nothing to do with where it began. After never being wrong we are wrong most of the time. This is just annoying and it isn’t because our eyesight is going. Did someone decide the cap game should be randomized? Is the computer program corrupted? Something has changed with this game.
4. Bag search – I doubt you’ll do anything about this until the new stadium but it’s worth repeating: the refusal to let some bags into the Stadium is annoying, disruptive, unfair to working people who suddenly have to spend $5 or more storing their bags across the street at the bowling alley, add an extra 20 minutes or more to their time at the Stadium to wait in long lines to pick the bag up and most importantly of all does not make anyone even remotely safer. If I thought it made us safer, I would gladly be strip-searched at the Stadium. But the casual blocking of some bags doesn’t do so. Yankee Stadium is the only baseball stadium in the country that still has this ban in place and it’s pointless. Women often bring in giant purses and bags, people with kids are allowed to bring in tons of bags, people in the regular seats (as opposed to bleachers) are far less likely to be turned away with a bag and the searches of people are so haphazard that banning bags is pointless. It was a panicked, short term reaction to heightened security concerns that should have been phased out long ago. Please at least do so when you open the new Stadium.
5. Bleacher entrance security – the past two seasons have brought a tremendous increase in the wait time to enter the bleachers. Many games if not most games only ONE gate is opened (with two doorways to funnel people through). Invariably, unless you arrive more than half an hour early that means a line snaking all the way past the ticket booths and other entrances by the parking garage, disrupting things for many many different fans. Even on game days that are sold out, the bleacher entrance almost never opens all the gates available to them to funnel in fans. I understand the expense of having sets of security for two or three different gates is onerous, especially when they won’t be needed except for one hour before the game and up to half an hour after the game has begun. But simply glancing at the chaos of just one gate and the deeply unhappy fans who have to stand in line for half an hour just to get up to the gate on the one day they go to a game each year (only to find out they can’t bring in a bag and have to go across the street and then get back in line) will show you what a disastrous policy this is. There is no excuse for not having a full complement of security and opening iup every gate possible on Opening Day, the Boston and Mets series and other sold out games. For years, both main gates into the bleachers were open with one line stretching towards the garage and the other towards the subway. The economizing in the last two years has made getting into the bleachers a miserable experience for everyone.
6. The painted aisle numbers – every season the numbers are painted twice, once at the beginning and once at the beginning of the second half after the All Star Break. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough and the numbers are so faded by the post-season that all the casual fans are completely lost and confused. I’d strongly recommend painting the aisle numbers three times a season. Once at the beginning, once at the All-Star break and once again halfway through the second half so that the numbers will be fresh enough come post-season.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to another great season. And thank God you didn’t trade away the farm to get Johan Santana. However the young pitchers do this season (and however Santana does), that would have been a disastrous, soul-crushing deal.


Michael Giltz

Monday, February 18, 2008

Andy Pettitte Fails To Take Responsibility

Andy Pettitte has just begun his press conference. And he immediately fails to take full responsibility for his actions. He again tries to justify his cheating. Sad. Here's my HuffPost on it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jason Page Begins New Radio Show

Jason Page begins his drive-time radio show Monday at 3 p.m. on ESPN Radio. You can listen to it online here. Go Jason!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Roger Clemens: My Answer Is Yes, No and Maybe

I'm sure I'll miss some but here are highlights of the bizarrely inconsistent testimony by Roger Clemens.

1. Andy Pettitte couldn't possibly believe Clemens did HGH or steroids -- why? Because if Pettitte did believe that he would have talked to Roger about it before using HGH himself. But of course Pettitte swore under oath that Clemens told him he had used HGH.

2. Andy Pettitte believed Clemens did HGH or steroids because Pettitte "misremembered" a conversation -- Uh-huh. One of your best friends drops the bombshell revelation that he is cheating and using illegal drugs and you freak out and tell your wife. But in fact what your friend REALLY said was he saw a TV show about old men who take HGH to maintain their quality of life. (It's used for senility.) This is insane.

3. Andy Pettitte got confused because Roger Clemens told him that Roger's WIFE did HGH once. This conversation was in 1999 or 2000. But Roger later said his wife only did HGH once in 2003.

4. Brian McNamee told the truth about Andy Pettitte under the threat of going to jail if he lied in any way. Andy Pettitte confirmed this.

5. Brian McNamee told the truth about Chuck Knoblauch under the threat of going to jail if he lied in any way. Chuck Knoblauch confirmed this.

6. Brian McNamee lied about Roger Clemens under the threat of going to jail if he lied in any way and even though secret conversations Clemens taped show McNamee torn up about his confessions and offering to go to jail even though he's afraid to, in order to protect Clemens.

7. Roger Clemens had absolutely no idea he would be mentioned in the Mitchell Report. The numerous, repeated, specific requests to speak to Clemens through the players association and others -- the only ways Mitchell was told he could reach players -- well, those people never bothered to mention these requests to Clemens. (I would have liked to see them under oath too yesterday.)

8. Roger Clemens absolutely DID know he would be in the Mitchell Report because Brian McNamee told Roger's people and Roger and Andy Pettitte hired lawyers and had McNamee deposed to find out what he had said before the report came out. Clemens knew at least several days before if not a week or more from McNamee alone.

9. Roger Clemens would have broken down doors to talk to Mitchell if he knew he was going to be in the report.

10. Roger knew he was going to be in the report and did nothing but hire lawyers and grill McNamee to find out what he'd said.

11. Roger Clemens told 60 Minutes his lawyers told him to have nothing to do with the Mitchell investigation.

12. Roger Clemens had no idea he'd be mentioned in the Mitchell report.

13. Roger Clemens was NOT at a BBQ held by Jose Canseco. Jose Canseco says also Clemens wasn't there. It's outrageous to suggest he was. This is the site of their first conversation about illegal drugs, per McNamee. Of course the location isn't really germane -- they could be arguing about the suit Clemens wore when they first discussed it (I was NOT wearing a brown suit that day; I never wear brown suits.) Nonetheless, McNamee insists Clemens was there and also he believes the nanny for the Clemens family was there as well. Absolutely not, says Roger.

14. Roger Clemens was NEAR the party, says Clemens. It's POSSIBLE he dropped off his wife and kids beforehand or picked them up afterwards. So he was there, he just wasn't really there.

15. The nanny -- The committee asked for contact info for the nanny on a Friday. Clemens and his lawyers ignored the request. They were asked again on Sunday. They ignored the request. They were asked again on Monday and finally gave up the contact info. Meanwhile, Clemens contacted the nanny himself -- the only person who might conceivably contradict his claim that he absolutely was nowhere near this party -- and invited her to his home on Sunday (they hadn't seen each other in seven years) where Clemens told her what was up and reminded her that he WASN'T at the party. Guess what? The woman testified under oath that Clemens was indeed at the party. Hence Clemens claiming he might have dropped his family off and been sort of, you know, NEAR the party.

16. Clemens says he NEVER talked to Brian McNamee about HGH.

17. Clemens says he DID talk to Brian McNamee about HGH and was very angry McNamee gave HGH to Clemens' wife before a Sports Illustrated shoot in 2003.

18. Roger Clemens and his lawyers insist angriy they absolutely did NOT push for this public testimony and it's outrageous that the committee headed by Waxman says it only happened because Clemens insisted on it. The committee insists they told Clemens there was no need for public testimony but he and his lawyers demanded it. But no, this is absurd.

19. Roger Clemens and his lawyers admit they DID insist on public testimony because they suspected that after the depositions were given that the committee's report would be harsh against Roger and they wanted the opportunity to make their case to the public at large.

I find this all very depressing. I've never been a fan of Clemens but I hate to find out he was a cheat and that some of the Yankee dynasty of the 90s is tainted. It's almost as depressing as finding out how widespread cheating is in baseball. Almost as depressing as finding out how little the owners, the players who didn't cheat and the fans care about this cheating. I've never liked A-Rod but I dread the possibility of bim being a cheat as well. I'm depressed that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are cheats and that little kids who looked up to them are now embarrassed by that. But as sordid as it all is, I would much rather deal with it all and get real safeguards in place and have a level playing field where people don't cheat and kids in high school and college don't feel obliged to break the law and risk their health in order to play ball. I am not experiencing schaudenfreude here. But I'm sorry: If the ever-changing excuses and half-truths and absurdities Roger Clemens offered up (Andy Pettitte confused Roger discussing a TV show with Roger confessing to using HGH?) don't make you shake your head, you are in complete denial. The guy is lying.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Do Republicans Love Illegal Drugs?

Watching the hearings and with Pettitte and Knohblauch backing up everything Brian McNamee said about them, I can't see how anyone would think a guy clearly besotted with Clemens would tell the truth about everyone else but lie about him.

Anyway, am I the only one who thinks it's bizarre that the committee is breaking down along party lines, with Republicans by and large loving Clemens and Democrats being tough and assertive? Do Republicans love illegl drug use? Do Republicans not care about America's pastime? I mean, there is no doubt that illegal drug use and cheating is rampant throughout baseball (and football and basketball) regardless of what you think about any individual player. And yet, the Republicans almost to a person seem to be ignoring the problem.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pettitte Begs Not To Testify

Pettitte was rightly ashamed of the spectacle of calling his friend Roger Clemens a liar on national TV. I can understand that but I have -- increasingly -- no sympathy for his situation. Andy did not come forward and "man up" to cheating. He was caught and if he lied about it he would face prison. Under those circumstances it is not admirable or brave or good to tell the truth. It is prudent and smart. Admit the truth and avoid jail. But his attitude throughout this has been far less than I expected from a player I respected so much. First and foremost and above everything else, Andy Pettitte was a mutlimillionare, lauded, rich for life, four-ring wearing superstar who CHEATED to gain more glory for himself. Let's not forget that. It may have been cheating in a quick, easy way that he knew would mean he would not get caught on drug testing, which hardly makes it more admirable. But everyone makes mistakes. But since he got caught, Pettitte has been defensive and angry and filled with juicy rationalizations. I can't look into his conscience but it seems clear Pettitte has not made a true confession and is looking for genuine forgiveness. You don't try and downplay your sin if you are truly sorry. Manning up would have been to say, "I cheated, I was wrong, I should never have done it, I did it in a way that would avoid getting caught on the drug tests, there was no justification for doing it and I beg kids not to risk their health in order to gain an edge on their opponents by cheating. It may injure or kill them and it WILL taint everything they have ever accomplished. They will never know what they might have done if they had been honest and they will also know that whatever they did accomplish was cheapened."

Pettitte doesn't want to forthrightly answer questions abot what he did because Roger is pissed at him for telling the truth. Tough. Is that the message to send to kids? Confess in secret, hide in public and never publicly take the punishment you deserve? Cause it will embarrass a fellow cheat?