Archive for June 19th, 2012
Now that we have grown used to professional players and athletes from all sorts of backgrounds and distinct sports using performance enhancing drugs, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Roger Clemens, the former baseball superstar, was acquitted on all charges against him for lying and obstructing Congress when he denied using performance enhancing drugs as a fast-balling pitcher. It seems that juror didn’t need too much time to deliberate and bring back a verdict. As a matter of fact, he outcome ended a 10-week trial that capped an expensive, five-year investigation into one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball.
According to the press release, the 49-year-old Roger Clemens, was charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he testified at a deposition and at a nationally televised hearing in February 2008. The charges centered on his repeated denials that he used steroids and human growth hormone during a 24-year career. To put his performance into perspective, over his lengthy professional career, Clemenes produced 354 wins and a record seven Cy Young Awards. Now, this is just a terrible blow for the government’s effort to legally pursuit athletes who have been accused of illegal drug use.
This comes just a year after a San Francisco Court found home run King Larry Bonds only guilty in one count of obstruction of justice, after another lengthy and costly 7-year investigation. Sure enough, the jury deadlocked on whether Bonds lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs. If you ask me, it’s just a bunch of b.s. but heck, Bond got away with it. But that’s not the end of the government underachieving in a sports fraud investigation. Last week we talked on about Lance Armstrong and his two-year, multicontinent investigation that looked into possible drug use by the 7-time Tour de France winner. The investigation was closed, though the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal accusations last week that could strip him of his wins and put an end to the sport’s most controversial athlete.
Despite the evidence given to the jury by Clemen’s longtime strength coach, Brian McNamee, who said he personally injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with HGH in 2000. McNamee also offered the jury a needle and other materials he said were from a steroids injection of Clemens in 2001. That is a little hard to bring forth in a jury considering he states that the needle and the rest of the materials were stored inside a beer can and put in a box for over six years. The other evidence the prosecutors had against Clemens included the testimony of former teammate Andy Pettitte who recalled a conversation in which Clemens supposedly admitted using HGH, but Pettitte said under cross-examination that there was a “50-50″ chance that he had misheard.
It is hard to know what kind of hurt this is going to place over Clemens legacy as a professional pitcher. But we are going to get a good idea next year when Clemens’ name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. His statistics alone would normally make give him a straight pass into baseball greatest honor. Voters, on the other hand, have been reluctant to induct premier players, such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, whose careers were tainted by allegations of drug use.
LeBron James and the Heat were in this same exact position just one year ago. They were up 2-1 in the NBA Finals last year playing against the Dallas Mavericks and they never won a game again. It would be easy to look back at that series and figure out what went wrong: LeBron James was once again failing to shine under the brightest lights, and his performance during the Playoffs was simply terrible. Not this time around. LeBron James has put up three of his best performances in the Finals we have ever seen against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And he really delivered when the series finally shifted to South Beach. On game three against the Thunder, LeBron James finished the game with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists. And despite a brilliant comeback in the third quarter from the Thunder, who managed to turn things around and even built a 10 point lead, James put up a three-pointer in the final seconds of the third to take the lead and never let go.
Kevin Durant had 25 points for the Thunder while Russell Westbrook finished the night with 19 points and 5 rebounds in 8 of 18 shooting. Kevin Durant once again got caught in foul trouble and things got a little complicated. He picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter and had to go to the bench, but perhaps the biggest surprise came just few seconds later when the Thunder head coach Scott Brooks decided to sit Westrbook as well to give him a little break at the end of the third quarter. Suddenly, the Heat took a second wind and turn things around to take a three-point lead at the end of the third quarter. From there on, the Heat never fell back again and finished the night with a 91-85 win at home.
The Miami fans were excited with James overall performance. It’s not just that he is delivering offensively, he is also working hard on his defensive play. James was responsible for cutting down a bit on Kevin Durant’s performance for the Thunder. He was a bit proud of his performance on Sunday night. “Just trying to make plays,” James said in the postgame press conference. “I told you guys, last year I didn’t make enough game-changing plays, and that’s what I kind of pride myself on. I didn’t do that last year in the Finals. I’m just trying to make game-changing plays, and whatever it takes for our team to win, just trying to step up in key moments and be there for my teammates.”
In this same circumstances, when both team in the NBA Finals are tied with one game a piece, whatever team goes on to win the third game, ends up winning the championship 85% of the time. Sure enough, there is still plenty to be said and done in this series and the outcome has not yet been decided by any means, but things are looking a bit uphill right now for the Thunder. Still, there is plenty of talent on this young and hungry team. “It was frustrating,” Durant said. “Of course we had a good lead and they came back and made some shots. We fouled shooters on the 3-point line twice. It’s a tough break for us, man. You know, I hate sitting on the bench, especially with fouls.” Well, it’s going to be up to Durant to take some pride and guide the Thunder into a vital win in game 4.
Rumor has it, when you play at the Olympic Club it is always going to be the wrong guy who wins the US Open. And boy, did they get that one right. At the beginning of the week, the press and the media were all talking about Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods fighting for another win at the US Open. Later on, as the tournament kicked in and Phil Mickelson had just one of his worst starts ever, attention shifted and although Tiger was still in the pack, everybody was talking about Jim Furyk and how he was starting to dominate on Saturday, and could be in his way to win his second US Open.
And yet, the Olympic Club golf course proved to be a really though match for the field and at the end, it was not about mastering the golf course. In my humble opinion, and I must confess I’m not a big fan of the sport and not very savvy in this field, this tournament was a bit like a survival contest. At the end, when all the great names in this sport had failed, Webb Simpson took the win because quite simply, he was the last man standing. The golf course itself took care of all the rest. That been said, I don’t mean to belittle Simpsons talent or effort. Don’t get me wrong, he did had a phenomenal weekend, keeping it cool thru the first rounds and kicking it in on Monday. Simpson finished the day with four birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn, and a tough par from the collar of the 18th green for a 2-under 68.
He then returned to the locker room and watched from a small television as Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell tried to catch him. These two guys trailing him had both won this tournament and they knew exactly what it took to finish here first. And yet little by little it became evident that the guy in the locker room would be the one winning this year’s US Open. Simpson sat next to his pregnant wife and watched as Furyk bogeyed two of his last three holes, and McDowell couldn’t recover from a bad start and too many tee shots in the rough. He hugged his wife and began to celebrate as McDowell’s 25-foot birdie putt to force a playoffs stayed left of the cup.
The Olympic Club is informally known as the graveyard of champions. Simpson came out from a fog-filled final round at the U.S. Open championship and with his first mayor win, he put two more names into the graveyard of champions. Furyk and McDowell joined a group of proven major winners who were poised to win the U.S. Open — Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart – and ended up losing to the underdog. “I never really wrapped my mind around winning,” said Simpson after winning his first mayor after only 5 appearances, “This place is so demanding, and so all I was really concerned about was keeping the ball in front of me and making pars.”