H.O.F. moralists in a quandary over Clemens

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H.O.F. moralists in a quandary over Clemens

The Baseball Hall of Fames moralist parade just got handed a conundrum. Roger Clemens walked.Six times. Acquitted of everything connected with Brian McNamee with the accuracy of a circus knife-thrower. Well, a really good circus knife-thrower. Mediocre knife-throwers tend not to be hired by most quality circuses any more.But we digress. After all, this is not Carny News Quarterly.Clemens was cleared by a jury, and presumably is back on the Hall of Fame fast track. That is, if you think the moralists were waiting for a verdict to decide on his worth, or for that matter, anyone elses.RELATED: Roger Clemens acquitted of all charges
They werent. And they still arent. The Clemens acquittal actually confuses them more, because they wanted to make up their minds about induction without troublesome issues like drug evidence.After all, Barry Bonds was convicted of perjury rather than drug use, and he is considered a long shot to be inducted next year when his name first appears on the ballot.Then again, this has always been the prime issue with those who want to include and exclude players based on their affinity for illegal performance enhancers. They never seemed all that keen on prosecuting offenders, but they were fine with keeping them out of the Hall of Fame just because, well, just because.Well, heres a flash. Baseball isnt the law, and the Hall of Fame isnt church. Sports has always been a lousy way to determine someones fitness for sainthood, even if its a low-level sainthood like a hall of fame. The number of brigands, rounders, weasels, short-armers and out-and-out swine we have lionized in all sports would fill most of the flyover states, and we lionize them for one reason only.Because they helped our favorite teams win games and entertain us. And whatever they have do or use, and whomever they have to use or do it to for those moments is considered okay by us.Its what some folks might call a character flaw. Its what others call the cost of doing business. And its what sports fans call good old-fashioned fun.The point? Halls of fame are not the place we have designated to salute law-abiding upstanding gentlemen and ladies. Those who are law-abiding and upstanding do that on their own, but it isnt why we saluted them. If we did, all the folks who cheated and swindled and assaulted and kept their fellow citizens from playing the games we all put such stock in wouldnt be in any hall at all.But theyre all there, because they performed for us.So now comes Clemens. Does any voter who wanted to keep him out of the Hall of Fame because he or she believes he must surely have used PEDs now change his or her mind because a jury dismissed the best available proof? And if not, has the Hall of Fame standard been lowered to Because I dont like the guy, okay?And if thats the standard, shouldnt the Hall of Fame be converted to a JiffyLube?Thats always been the problem with the Hall of Fame moralists. They stand on too many wobbly planks, cortorted into too many logically indefensible positions, forced to bend facts and ignore history and inflate their ballots into lofty certifications of human value that the halls themselves have never held their members to, ever.In other words, if Clemens doesnt get 95 percent of the votes this winter, as he should given his resume, it means a lot of voters have decided to change the standard to BIDLTG, O. Because I dont like the guy, okay? And the same logic can be applied to Bonds because his conviction is not a drug conviction at all.We can extend this out to say the real truth that the Hall of Fame is not a measuring stick of anything at all except playing skill but that brilliantly constructed and logically unassailable argument has not yet convinced enough people.RELATED: Roger Clemens career stats
The slack-jawed dimwits.Which is why the Clemens verdict places the Hall of Fame moralists in an even greater quandary than before. And frankly, theyd better be ready to enjoy a steady diet of quandaries after all, theyve asked for them.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

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Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
 
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
 
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
 
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
 
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
 
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
 
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
 
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
 
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
 
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
 
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
 
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.