House Committee Members Star Struck at Roger Clemens Hearing
Washington, D.C., February 13, 2008 -- Roger Clemens appeared today to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's full committee hearing on "The Mitchell Report: The Illegal Use of Steroids in Major League Baseball, Day 2".
Observers got a taste what was to come at 10:00 AM when Mr. Clemens arrived at the entrance of the Rayburn House Office Building to cheers of "Rocket" by congressional staffers, many sporting oversized foam #1 hands and holding Clemens bobbleheads.
After everyone was assembled in the meeting room, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) opened the hearing and, in an unusual act of bipartisanship, allowed Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) to throw out the first pitch.
Lacking much of the usual self-importance, grandstanding, hyperbole and melodrama that is often associated with anything Washington, this hearing took on more of an air of teenage girls being provided an opportunity to sit down with Britney Spears for milk and Oreos (the Britney prior to 24-hour marriage, K-Fed, 2 kids, no panties, head shaving and mental breakdown, of course).
The following exchanges between Roger Clemens and various Committee members provide an example of how the Committee struck out during these hearings.
Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN): Mr. Clemens, Hi! May I call you Rocket?
Roger Clemens: Sure
Rep. Dan Burton: Okay, Rocket. (snicker) I'm also a big fan of the game of baseball and am interested seeing the integrity of the game protected. Thus, could you please explain to me and the Committee, in layman terms, exactly what the balk rule is?
Roger Clemens: Sure. There are two types of balks, procedural and punitive. A procedural balk is awarded when a pitcher works outside a certain set of motions prior to and during a pitch. A punitive balk is awarded when a pitcher's actions are meant to deceive baserunners. Did you know that Steve Carlton holds the Major league record for career balks with 90?
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD): Many have already referred to your reputation being tarnished by the HGH allegations brought forth within the Mitchell Report by one Brian McNamee and I would like to follow up a bit on that. My nephew has your '85 rookie card. It's in mint condition. I would like to know your thoughts on its value over time even if you do not get elected to the Hall of Fame.
Roger Clemens: Is it a Fleer, Topps, Donruss …
Rep. Elijah Cummings: Topps I think.
Roger Clemens: I'd tell him to hold onto it. My legacy is far from written in stone.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN): While we members of the Committee understand that baseball has changed and the enormous amount of money at stake places undue pressure upon the athletes to perform, do you think the Twins were ripped by the Mets with the trade of Johan Santana for a handful of unproven players?
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY): Mr. Chairman, I protest! The Twins took what the Mets offered. Remember neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox offered what the Twins wanted.
Chairman Henry Waxman: I'm sure the distinguished representative from Minnesota meant no criticism of the Mets. Please rephrase your question.
Rep. Betty McCollum: Alright. Mr. Clemens, in this era of high salaries and increased public scrutiny of "America's Game" do you think the Twins were nuts to deal away Johan Santana?
Roger Clemens: Each team must work with their respective ability to pay. Johan is going to be a fine pitcher for years to come and I think he was looking for a long-term deal that the Twins were unable to provide.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA): I'd like to refocus this hearing back to more of a discussion on steroid usage in baseball as elaborated in the Mitchell Report, the BALCO investigation and written about by Jose Canseco. From these and other sources we know that allegations of steroid usage have surfaced regarding such well-known players as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. My question to you, is which one of those players would you least like to face in game 7 of the World Series with your team up by 1 with bases loaded and 2 outs?
Roger Clemens: Wow! You're not pulling any punches today, Mr. Congressman. I would have to say Barry Bonds for the reason that his ability to homer off more types of pitches and in more locations is a bit greater than that of the other two.
In his closing statement Chairman Waxman thanked Mr. Clemens for attending and for, "possessing a name that's easy to pronounce -- unlike those characters Andy Pietite, Rafael Palmierini and Chuck Knoblaugh."
Following the conclusion of the hearing the Committee members all stood to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and brought in a hotdog vendor.
By Raoul Thibodeaux, Avant News Staff Writer
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