I'm sick of cheaters. Sick of reading about 'em, writing about 'em, hearing about 'em and talking about 'em.
I'm sick of the cheating they do and the lying they do to cover up the cheating, sick of debates about how bad the cheating really is and sick of the sanctimonious moralizing about the cheating cheaters, no matter how bad the cheating is or how much the cheating liars lie about their cheating, even when I'm the one doing the sanctimonious moralizing, which I'm sick of doing.
And now after two paragraphs I'm sick of complaining about the whole thing.
The congressional committee that probable cheater Roger Clemens probably lied to is reportedly moving toward starting criminal proceedings against the pitcher, who showed up as a visitor and batting practice tosser at Houston Astros camp Monday and said he had no comment about the Mitchell Report or steroids. Hey, at last: Somebody definitely told the truth.
The same committee has also asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Miguel Tejada lied to it about cheating liar Rafael Palmeiro three years ago.
This was the big news Tuesday, one day after the big news was the details of the buyout deal cheating liar Kelvin Sampson signed to step down as men's basketball coach at Indiana.
It's this column's sincere hope that the Clemens affair doesn't distract Congress from its real work, investigating the videotaping activities of cheater and probable liar Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots.
Yes, Bill Belichick. It's true this column has serially dismissed the New England Patriots videotaping scandal as a tempest in a comically small container of some sort. Hide the children, the man has been convicted of videotaping some of the most videotaped events on the planet, an illegal act because of where the cameraman was standing -- maybe 10 steps away from what would have been a legal vantage point.
Still and all, it was against the rules and it must have been done to gain some sort of advantage, even if none of us nongeniuses can figure out what the advantage might have been. That's cheating. And I'm sick of cheaters.
I'm not naive. I know people have been cheating since australopithecine tree-climbing contests. But it just seems to have become the dominant theme of the sporting world lately. And I'm sick of it. To paraphrase from another context: Can't anybody here just play the game?
Don't get me wrong. I like a little friendly chicanery as much as the next guy. I appreciate a well-slobbered spitball or a grabbed jersey under the basket and I wouldn't be above bringing an extra ace or two to nickel-ante poker if I were clever enough to get away with it.
But I appreciate a home run, a strikeout or great post play a lot more. Sports are supposed to be an escape from our troubles, from worrying about things like the mischief Congress is up to. Where do we go when we need to escape from the escape?
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Yao's foot says, "Tell your predictions to shut up" [PERMALINK]
Tuesday was one of those days to remind you that preseason predictions are so pointless as to be totally superfluous, which of course is what makes them so much fun.
Just when the Houston Rockets were living up to early-autumn prognostications that they really might be something this year, their star, Yao Ming, was lost for the season with a stress fracture in his foot. Did you see that one coming?
Sure, Yao has a history of foot and lower-leg injuries. And you think you've got stress? Try being a foot whose job is to support 310 pounds of basketball player. Even on a job share. So a Yao Ming foot injury isn't exactly a bolt out of the blue.
But did you see the whole thing coming, you soothsayers out there? The six-game losing streak in November, the 15-17 record after the first game of the new year, then the 21-3 stretch, including 12 straight wins at the moment of general manager Daryl Morey's announcement Tuesday that Yao would be out for four months whether he chooses surgery or rest?
So you really had no idea. You analyzed and compared matchups and maybe even consulted actuarial tables and came up with an educated guess that got blown out of the water by, among other things, Yao Ming's foot, which is about to turn the Rockets from a probable playoff team on a hot streak to a probable lottery team that's going to be thinking seriously about retooling the roster.
And that's assuming you saw Pau Gasol to Los Angeles coming, or Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix or Jason Kidd to Dallas or half the population of Cleveland hitting the bricks.
Predictions are a fool's errand, but they're not just that. They're mental masturbation, a complete waste of time.
Watch this space in a month for baseball picks.
Previous column: Coach crime, athlete punishment
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -