Politics And Sports: Strange Bedfellows

By Gregory Moore
Updated: January 9, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — I want to go a little bit outside the normal confines of my writing subject for a moment and meld two worlds together for the sake of argument. Over the weekend, the state of Iowa gave many a shocking report from their caucus election.

For Democratic faithful, they have learned that Iowans are more than willing to have Barack Obama as their representative for the Presidential race than a John Edwards or Hillary Clinton. That’s a major statement by any measuring standard and it is an accomplishment by Obama’s people to get his message out. Yet there are definitely those who believe that this is just that; a major accomplishment. Really? Does anyone believe that the Obama political machine thinks this a very major victory or is this one in many battles that must be won?

Do so many African Americans believe that he has solidified his place in politics with just this one event? In other words if we took politics and made them viewable like we watch sporting events during the seasons, would we believe that Obama’s win was a Super Bowl win or was it just a pre-season tune up?

I ask that question because the talk around the country has been how great Obama had done in the Iowa caucus. Maybe I’m an old stick in the mud but I think there is something greater to this election year. I just don’t see the Iowa showing as a major step but more as a stepping-stone. As I write this piece, residents in New Hampshire are casting their votes.

Their votes have spoken and Hillary Clinton was the winner. She received 24 delegates for her win. Obama received 25 for his win in Iowa. It’s a tight race and there is a long, arduous process to go through. No one is the decided winner by any stretch of the imagination. Just like in sports, a clear cut champion, for the most part, isn’t decided until the ‘championship’ game.

Was it a great thing for Barack to have such a good showing in Iowa? Of course it was and despite what many think, it was a historical moment. However let’s don’t get this twisted by any stretch of the imagination. Obama is the first African American political figure that has a real chance at being known as a Democratic Presidential candidate.

There is a real chance that that when the Demos convene this year, there could be enough delegates who say we want Barack to be our man in living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But for that to happen, Obama needs more than just Iowans to vote for him right now. These primaries and caucuses are all in important.

There are fifty states who will decide who will be in the November race and there is no time for celebration. Right now the Obama team is looking at this as just one win amongst many. They may not be looking at this from a sports analogy standpoint but you can be quite sure that they aren’t celebrating an Iowa win like they just one the Presidential candidacy either.

ANOTHER SPORTS FIGURE WHO HAS LET US ALL DOWN Okay now that I’m off the political soapbox, let me take on one that I am more comfortable with; society and sports. Let me don on my hat, big rimmed glasses and ruler and turn to my latest pupil; Roger Clemens. It seems that Mr. Clemens thinks the public is not giving him the benefit of the doubt. No really Roger is that what you are thinking?

Let’s see you secretly tape your former trainer during a phone conversation and many in the media firmly believe that your Matlock lawyer, err Rusty Hardin, put you up to it. You have said nothing that persuades sentiment towards you on tape. You never raised your voice. You never demanded in a heated tone that Brian McNamee to retract what he said.

Not once did you do like friends do and that was have a falling out that was of a high decibel caliber. And yet you and Rusty are wondering why the sports world is giving you this cynical look of, “You have got to be kidding me!” stance. C’mon Roger get real and smell the ammonia salts for a moment: you are amongst an elite group that has let the world down.

Here the thing. Far too many years have gone past and far too many sports fans and writers have thought Clemens was on the juice. Whether Clemens wants to believe it or not many people think he is a freak of nature and that age he is right now, no one believes natural talent allows you to chunk fastballs at such velocity that 19-year-olds just cringe.

The fact that Clemens’ physique portrays a man who seemed to have worked out using some sort of supplements far beyond what you get at the local GNC store. Clemens is no Nolan Ryan, a man who was pretty good in his early 40s but he realized when his days were done.

The Ryan Express became the Ryan Commuter Line and as you can tell, nobody is questioning whether he took steroids or not. Clemens, on the other hand, is being questioned and he has been questioned throughout the sports community and he has some answers to give to a public that simply does not believe its heroes anymore.

Was Roger Clemens on the juice? Only he knows that answer. He wants McNamee to tell the truth but what about him? Will he come forth and really tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Or will he hide behind his lawyers and duck and dodge the hard pitches that will come at him?

If I were a betting man I’d say he is going to bob and weave better than any prizefighter. A truly innocent man wouldn’t have to be hiding behind his lawyers. A falsely accused man would want to kick McNamee’s ass for lying and soiling his reputation.

An innocent man wouldn’t have waited TWO WEEKS to respond and he would have been quick to clear his name on a report that took two years to put together.

If it sounds like I don’t believe him then you got the right assumption. Clemens has some serious explaining to do not just on whether he cheated his way to a longer career but just on the simple notions of his human reactions to being called a cheat.

He and his team calculate everything. That’s not a normal response no matter what the circumstances are. But then again he is the one trying to salvage his reputation and Hall of Fame status; not me, Joe Blow, the sports fan.