Hubris

Finally, Roger Clemens has been indicted for perjury. When testifying before Congress on steroid use in professional baseball, Clemens said, “I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it. I never used steroids. Never performance-enhancing steroids.” His trainer, however, told a different story, saying that he had injected Clemens with steroids more than a dozen times. Clemens’s friend and teammate on the New York Yankees, Andy Pettite, said that Clemens had admitted to using steroids — to which Clemens artfully responded that Petitte must have misheard him.

What makes this all the more delicious is that when Clemens testified before Congress, he was not under subpoena — he volunteered to testify. Tom Davis, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, said, “[Clemens] wanted to come to the committee and clear his name. And I sat there in the office with Henry Waxman and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t lie.’ … He could have just let it go, but he denied it vociferously before Congress. Several times, we gave him the opportunity to back down, and he didn’t.”

In a statement issued after his indictment, Clemens asked the public not to rush to judgment. But because of his hubris — υβρις, that form of extreme pride that leads to arrogance, insolence, and haughtiness — I sure find myself rushing to judgment. Clemens was considered by many to be one of the best pitchers who ever played baseball, but he always exuded arrogance, and it always seemed that he thought himself to be better than anyone else. If he really is guilty of using steroids, I can’t believe he could ever admit it, not even to himself. And if he really is innocent, I will never completely believe his innocence precisely because of his extreme arrogance.

Clemens has offended the gods of baseball — not by using steroids, but by making himself seem more powerful than the game itself. For this act of hubris, he is being publicly humiliated.

And I want Aeschylus to come back to life, and write a play about it.

10 thoughts on “Hubris

  1. Carol

    Let all athletes use steroids. They’re entertainers. If they want to damage their bodies, let them, and don’t waste taxpayer money regulating their industry.

  2. Dan

    Bill @ 1 — OK, sure. But I’m not that interested in whether this is a waste of Congress’ time. Clemens should have understood that it was a waste of Congress’ time and kept his mouth shut, but he volunteered to testify before Congress, and then allegedly perjured himself, at which point an indictment is inevitable. In other words, I’m not talking politics here, I’m talking about hubris.

    Carol @ 2 — OK, but I’m not the guy you have to convince — you have to convince professional baseball’s regulating body, and at this point, they have banned steroid use. Your second point is entirely a propos — why do we spend taxpayer money on this? — for that matter, why do we spend taxpayer money on building huge sports arenas that then get branded with a private corporation’s logo?

  3. Bill Baar

    Talking to the Cops is a problem for Politicians, Celebrities, and Sports Figures. It’s a lot harder for them to no-show or take-the-fifth like you and I can because part of being a public figure is volunteering to talk and talk a whole lot. Of course it’s hubris which these folks abound with. Still, if there is one lesson a-coming after the Obama experience, it will be to build some boundaries in life between the public and the personal. Liberalism has a bad habit of making everything “political” best evidenced by Liberals frequent slams about hypocrisy. A conservatives going to have life a bit more compartmented and understand life’s complicated and things conflict and contradict, but one way to keep the peace is don’t give guys like Clemons the opportunity to talk. Keep it compartmented. All life isn’t political and Congress should butt out.

  4. Dad

    It is a sad commentary on Congress that they manage to find time for something like this while refusing to take any action on many items of importance.

  5. Amy

    There’s something more important than baseball?

    Actually, if Congress wants to take action on a baseball-related item that it specifically created to prevent problems within MLB, namely the role of Commissioner, it could demand that MLB get a real Commissioner. One who is not one of the owners he’s supposed to be keeping an eye on.

  6. Dan

    Bill @ 4 — Actually, my take on things is that both the political liberals and the political conservatives make everything political. I say this as a blogger who tries to write about religion and morality, only to find all these commenters (both liberals and conservatives) talking about politics. Just sayin’!

    Amy @ 6 — You write: “There‚Äôs something more important than baseball?”

    Whoa, careful, questions like that might offend the baseball gods! Nothing is more important than baseball.

  7. Jean

    It’s because Clemens was a Red Sox player, but then became a Yankee. He thought those two years with Toronto after Boston would make it not count that he went to the dark side. Ha! Once a Red Sox player, always a Red Sox player. Take note all ye who leave Fenway. The Baseball Gods will bring down their revenge upon you if you venture into Yankee Stadium on The Wrong Side.

    So this, of course, means that Johnny Damon is a marked man. And Manny Ramirez better not be dreaming of NYC anytime soon.

  8. Carol

    Dad here says the baseball industry (which is what we’re talking about, not “baseball”) is regulated by the feds because it is an allowed monopoly that would violate anti-trust laws but for some loophole. I’m sure your blog readers have the scoop.

    As Ted Clark said about Bostonians, “They like Red Sox. They don’t necessarily like baseball.”

  9. Dan

    Jean @ 8 — You write: “So this, of course, means that Johnny Damon is a marked man.”

    He already had to cut his hair.

    Carol @ 9 — That statement about Bostonians is true. It may be equally true to say that Red Sox baseball is a religion, whereas all other baseball is just a game.

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