Wednesday, February 13, 2008


The Clemens hearings were today, at least the first round. Tom Verducci has a great summary.

At this point, I don't think *anyone* is believable. It's clear that McNamee should never be trusted. I'm sure some of the things he's saying are the truth. But he's now changing his story too many times for me to keep track.

Clemens is also entirely unbelievable. He keeps changing his story, and he never managed to describe why McNamee would lie about what happened.

I think part of the problem is that professional athletes aren't used to having anyone actually pay attention to what they say. They are asked dumb questions ("What does this game mean for you?") their whole life, they give the same stock answers ("We're taking things one game at a time") and then repeat. Their job isn't to be honest, it's to perform on the field. They are used to lying, both the big lies and the small ones. Normally, they are the ones who choose what questions to answer and which sportswriters to ignore. Here, the dynamic is reversed. Congress chooses the questions, but they have to come up with something for every one of them.

Outside the bubble, where people actually pay attention to their every word, and where their questioners have the power, they stumble. They're not used to this.

Not surprisingly, these hearings give sportswriters the opportunity to look ridiculous. Jason Stark:

What I'll be looking for -- what you should be looking for -- is who squirms, who stammers, who hedges. Look for body language. Look for who can't recall what.

Hey Jayson, do you by any chance remember the last round of congressional hearings? Do you remember if there was a player who had the whole 'convincing body language' thing down? Remember how that turned out? Maybe don't trust the body language quite to much.

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