We have been choking on righteous indignation lately, big fistfuls of perceived sports injustices feeding a beast of fury.
So when a jury found Roger Clemens not guilty of perjury Monday, anger was swift, as were threats to exclude him from the Hall of Fame. We’d show him, that affected, arrogant SOB. How unfair that he walked when everybody — OK, almost everybody — knows deep down he used steroids.
We live in indignant times, everybody in a rush to be offended by something. We were offended when Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted an actual rap lyric, remain offended less that Tiger Woods cheated on his wife and more that he seems to have lost custody of his talent in the ensuing divorce. We recently became reoffended when the United States Anti-Doping Agency reminded us that Lance Armstrong might have used steroids.
We use this indignation to troll for apologies, confessions. We use this as a reason not to like a certain athlete, or athletes in general — they all lie and cheat, right? — or just life. How many people do you know who are mad about everything?
Everything is a scam. Everybody is cheating. Everything is unfair.
The danger of all this indignation is how quickly it numbs us. We are so angry about every little thing that we miss the really big things that should infuriate us. The things that should wake us at 3 a.m. in a fit of fury get muted in the bright lights of all of that white-hot rage about very little.
I say this because a monster might be on trial right now in Pennsylvania — not a made-up steroids boogey man, but an actual monster, if the testimony offered by young men in the care of Jerry Sandusky is to be believed.
If I were on that jury, the case would have been decided when Victim No. 4 testified June 11 that Sandusky made him feel like "I was part of something, like a family.”
Sandusky allegedly used this facade of care to entice that adolescent into sexually compromising positions right until the point he was sent to foster care.
“He never contacted me,” the alleged victim testified about Sandusky.
The witness said he became angry that Sandusky "could just forget about me, like I was nothing, after all that.”
I know there was more gut-wrenching testimony given, more sexually depraved acts described. Yet this tugged at me because it accuses Sandusky of grooming kids who were desperate for love for his own creepy purposes.
Anyone found guilty of using football to steal innocence deserves our indignation. Anyone found guilty of using steroids to increase his home-run total deserves apathy.
Clemens certainly has mine. Barry Bonds, too.
I do not care anymore, and I am hardly alone.
I remember reading “Game of Shadows,” way back when, feeling all frothy with indignation about Bonds. The list of what he was said to be taking — the Cream and the Clear, insulin, HGH, Mexican beans, a female ovulation drug and a cow steroid, for starters — made me angry because of how unsporting it all seemed. Taking down Hank Aaron’s record this way felt like hunting with a laser-sighted assault rifle.
Then I had a realization: Why do I care about the sanctity of baseball’s records when baseball so clearly does not? Why do I care about Bonds and Clemens and Armstrong’s integrity? Why do I care about their testicular health? Why do I, or we, care about steroids at all?
Snort steroids. Mainline it. Rub it in or shove it up. Most Americans do not care, certainly not enough to volunteer tax dollars for trials to further convolute an already flawed investigation.
Armstrong has been tested, like, 457 times — all clean.
Clemens was acquitted on all charges. A jury failed to render a verdict about whether Bonds lied about steroid use, instead finding him guilty on one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer. Doubt remains about their overall cleanliness, a cloud of suspicion remaining no matter what tests or juries say. And this feels unjust, so we angrily declare how they will never get in the Hall of Fame.
Why exactly? For doing what baseball turned a blind eye to?
Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he took a single steroid, and I do not care if Armstrong is right now blood doping with lighter fluid to help him win a triathlon.
He beat cancer. He stared down a death sentence and won and from that brought hope and help to thousands upon thousands of cancer survivors. That is his legacy, not whatever he pumped into himself to win a race.
As for Clemens, well, he was a good player who cheated. This makes him unique how?
If I am indignant about anything in this whole Clemens mess, it is that my money was spent trying him. I can think of 457 better uses of my taxpayer dollars. I know the argument is we cannot let people just walk into Congress and lie because it sets a bad precedent. By all means, let us make sure nobody lies to the liars.
And why is Congress never on the front end of these things, anyway? Always holding hearings way after the fact, all indignant about this or that and talking all tough long after whatever already has happened.
“Hey, Enron guys, we are really angry at y’all.”
“What a tragedy about Gabby Giffords. We need to tone down rhetoric.”
Campaign finance, pork spending and on and on. So if Clemens wants to “misremember” a little dalliance with HGH, well, who really cares?
I would have respected him more if he had told them to fix the schools, secure borders and then get back to him about whether he took steroids while playing baseball
Did he take steroids? Probably. OK, he most likely did. I base this solely on what his former teammate Andy Pettitte originally testified. What I know for sure is I no longer care.
There are too many real monsters out there, as testimony tells us about that creep in Pennsylvania, to be too indignant about people who are really just cheating themselves.