Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pettitte's "truthiness" provides roadmap for others

No matter your thoughts on Pettitte and his "truthiness" that was on exhibit yesterday, he certainly provided the roadmap for others accused or found guilty of PED use to recapture something. Not their reputation, but maybe a modicum of respect.

The previous-outted users gave us the following:

  • McGwire: refusal to acknowledge followed by a life in seclusion.
  • Bonds: reliance on the "unknowingly" clause. Plus refusal to admit in public what he admitted under oath, followed by continued arrogance, exacerbated by a nagging perjury charge for lying under oath.
  • Giambi/LoDuca: sorry about doing something, but won't mention "it" by name for fear of voiding big money contract.
  • Clemens: steadfast denials, aggressive press conferences, hand-selected interviewer for TV interview, ending up on Capital Hill, getting ripped by our Nation's fine representatives, possibly ending up in a Bonds-esque perjury hangup.
  • Palmiero: Wag finger in Congress' face, then get busted a few weeks later. Fade to black
  • Others: Silence
  • Others: Unknowingly, ignorance
  • Others: Mislabeling of products
  • Others: No hablo Ingles
  • Canseco: Embracing of the truth and shouting it from the mountaintops. Publish book(s)
  • Caminiti: Admit it and discuss it, but not actively assist MLB in identifying or fixing the problem. Sadly, for Caminiti, the result was an untimely death.

So what did Pettitte do yesterday that others will surely try to replicate: contrition, humility, a sense of human-ness. Pettitte's likeability and God-fearing persona will and has helped him. Sen. Waxman nearly knighted him last week. The press has been praising Pettitte's press conference and his apparent honesty. But, that doesn't diminish the fact that he did cheat to gain an advantage. Maybe not to throw harder but to get back on the field faster.

Is that more noble? I guess so. I want my players to bust their tails to get back on the field/court/ice as fast as possible and I understand those players seeing a possible remedy to help them get better faster. But, I have to view these transgressions thru the eyes of a father of two young boys, the oldest of which is quickly becoming a very smart baseball fan: How would I explain this Player's actions to them? Was it the right thing to do? Why or why not? My son has already been peppering me with questions about "why is Clemens and Pettitte on TV?" but not in uniform? He knows about steroids. He wants to know if his favorite players used them or not. He's not yet 8 years old.

Jayson Stark has a good review of Pettitte's performance yesterday. He discusses how Pettitte's truthiness provides that roadmap (sorry for the big quote-grab, but it's well done):

Actually act like a real person. And talk like a real person. And paint a picture, for the world to see, of how an otherwise level-headed human being somehow got sucked into the depths of baseball's magic-syringe culture.

So when Pettitte spoke into those microphones Monday and said he'd taken these drugs out of "stupidity" and "desperation," he seemed as believable as any baseball drug culprit ever has.

When he talked about how he made the torturous decision to tell congressional investigators about how his father injected him in 2004 because "If I didn't bring it up, I couldn't sleep at night," he sounded as genuine as any of these guys has ever sounded.

A phony doesn't say: "Part of me was a nervous wreck and scared to death to come up here today."

A phony doesn't tell you stories about his wife's referring him to a Bible passage on the plane ride to Washington, a passage that reinforced the lesson that "I needed to tell the truth under oath."

A phony doesn't say: "If people think I'm lying, they should call me a cheater."

I listened to this guy speak for an hour, and he never sounded like a guy who was trying to stay "on message" or was trying to stay on some holier-than-thou script. He sounded like a man who made a b-i-i-i-i-g mistake. And knows he has to live with the consequences. And thought there was value in trying to explain to all of us how something like that can happen, even to the last guy in the whole sport you ever thought would "cheat."


In related blogging circles, Shyster also had something to add about the deification of Pettitte.


Well, maybe not after all. During the writing of this post, I learned that Tejada, under the advice of his attorneys, will not comment on his inclusion in the Mitchell Report.

The FBI has launched an inquiry and Tejada could face jail time if found guilty.

"I can't really talk about that. It's not my position to talk about that," Tejada said. "Right now, my mind is really focused on just playing baseball."

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