Liotta: A legend falls apart under scrutiny

We were treated to another iron-clad sports axiom this week, as timeless as “defense wins championships” and as true as “good pitching beats good hitting.”

Baseball players do not win on Capitol Hill, with Roger Clemens the latest victim.

Remember watching Mark McGwire go down in flames almost three years ago? After his head-rattling, jaw-dropping performance, saying over and over, “I’m not here to discuss the past,” we thought we’d never endure a more squirm-inducing moment as bad as that.

Watching Clemens this week was worse. Way worse.

With McGwire, it quickly became painfully obvious he had a plan and he refused to deviate from it. No matter what. And, by the way, he never did discuss his past that afternoon.

With Clemens? I couldn’t tell what his plan was. He acted as if he was sure we’d believe whatever he said — whether it made sense or not — simply because he was Roger Clemens. He was going to deny using steroids or HGH, no matter how many pieces of his story fell apart.

One by one, the bystanders — Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, even Clemens’ wife, Laura — collided head-on with the logic of those denials. But Roger kept throwing ’em. If ever a pitcher needed a manager with a quick hook, this was it. Unfortunately, there was nobody in that dugout and Roger simply kept getting pounded. Hard.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who you believe in this sad, sorted affair. Clemens’ crash landing was nothing more than yet another sad moment of our once-proud national pastime being dragged into the gutter under the watchful eye of commissioner Bud Selig.

First, the best hitter in the game under Selig’s watch was indicted for allegedly lying to a grand jury. Now, it’s the best pitcher in the game under Selig’s watch who may have the authorities trying to prove he lied before a congressional committee.

Sadly, Barry Bonds and Clemens have been forced into their respective downfalls because of Selig’s refusal to deal with the problem of performance-enhancing drugs back in the day. Hey, Bud, this one’s for you.

About the only good thing connected to Roger’s rocky outing on the Hill was that it ended in time for all of us to get strapped in for another wild ride on the Warriors’ express. And they did not disappoint.

It’s been a can-you-top-this first half for Chris and Nellie’s bunch that can definitely shoot straight and they may be the best pure entertainment this side of Beyonce. The Warriors go into the All Star break having won 32 of their last 46 games. They’re a force that nobody wants to reckon with.

Random thought:

» The NBA should stage the next Warriors-Phoenix Suns game during the Summer Olympics as part of the track and field competition. Wednesday’s game was part sprint, part long-range shooting, kinda like the biathlon.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

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