August 23rd, 2010

Clemens and K-Rod...

Three days ago, Roger Clemens was charged with six counts of various Federal crimes, all stemming from his testimony to the (laughably named) House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, given two and a half years ago. I am largely indifferent to the fate of the Rocket; I certainly wouldn't mind seeing this indictment take him down, nor would I have any sympathy for him if he had to do a stretch in a Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. My antipathy doesn't quite rise to the level of Red Sox fans, but it's still there. I have not forgotten that the man threw a fragment of a bat at Mike Piazza during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. Clemens was not even subpoenaed by the committee; he testified of his own accord, making it all the more ironic that he should be hoist by his own petard.

That said, I've got to ask the question...why did Congress even have this hearing? I understand that February in Washington can be a hellishly boring time and place. I can also sympathize with the needs of the Members to do something, anything, to make themselves look and feel important. After all, the public's opinion of Congress has been in a trough for most of my lifetime. But the question of whether or not baseball players enhanced their performance with certain drugs (whether or not those drugs were illegal) is far beyond the Constitutional scope of federal power. Matt Welch of Reason was on this like white on rice. It adds credence to the theory that Congress would best help the country if it did nothing but sit silently on its hands.

And then there's Francisco Rodriguez. For anyone not aware of this saga, the Mets' closer got into an altercation with his fiancé's father, who was taken from Citi Field by ambulance. The next day, K-Rod was arraigned on third-degree assault charges, and was put on the restricted list - a two-day suspension, without pay. The following Saturday (the 14th), he pitches, but feels something wrong. Two days later, a torn ligament is discovered in K-Rod's pitching hand - an injury that is directly related to the prior incident, and an injury that requires season ending surgery. The Mets have placed Rodriguez on something called the "disqualified list," which I didn't even know existed prior to this whole thing. They also converted his contract to a non-guaranteed variety, and might even try to void the whole thing.

As expected, the Major League Baseball Players Association has filed a grievance against all of the Mets' actions. I hope the Mets win - and not just because I'm a fan. This kind of silliness bullshit in sports needs to stop. We witnessed it at the start of the year, in the form of the Gilbert Arenas incident. David Stern did suspend Arenas for the remainder of the season, but he's still on the Wizards' payroll and salary cap. I was reminded of what Bill Simmons and Joe House had to say on that subject just after the story broke; in particular, their (correct) claim that in any other American line of work, bringing guns into the workplace to settle a dispute over a card game is an offense worthy of termination. I feel the same way about what K-Rod did. When you start swinging punches in your workplace, no matter who they're directed at or why you're throwing them, your employer has firm ground on which to fire you. The Mets should cut Francisco Rodriguez loose with neither apology nor regret. But I know that probably won't happen. If K-Rod were ready to pitch next spring, I would not call upon him. I would not let him get anywhere near the fifty-five game finishes he needs to trigger his $17.5 million 2012 vesting option. I would send him a message: "You have not conducted yourself in a manner appropriate to our organization. We may have run this place like a circus in the past, but not anymore. We're moving forward - and we're doing so without you." Of course, that's what I would do. If Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel are still at the reins of the Mets come next Opening Day, we'll be saddled with K-Rod - and mediocrity - for the foreseeable future.