Clemens Not the Point

Hosted by

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

It's been a dismal season for Knicks fans. That's grossly understating it. It's been an abysmal season. So how uplifting it was Tuesday night to see that standing-room-only crowd at Madison Square Garden roar their grand appreciation. And how ironic that they were standing and cheering not for the big men but for a little guy. Not a point guard but a hound named Uno. It was great to see the Garden lit up with championship spirit as Uno the beagle won Best in Show at the second longest running sporting event in the United States, the Westminster Dog Show. Now if the big guys can come back onto the Garden floor with the same moxie that beagle showed as he trotted into the winner's circle.

Speaking of winners, I got a chance to experience the Super Bowl last week in New York. By game's end, sleet and snow were hammering down in a sideways slant, but no matter. New Yorkers were temporarily insane in the streets, crazy-eyed with the disbelief that their own Giants had upset the supposedly perfect Patriots. Fans from street level to high above were hanging out their apartment windows, bellowing their joy in unison. What an inspired construct of self-confidence that game was. On paper, it's true that the Patriots were pretty darn near perfect. Yet from the moment the Giants sprinted out of the tunnel, you could see the set in their jaws. They believed. The Giants slayed the Giant and it was a marvelous tribute to the magic that comes with supreme effort and positive vision.

Two days later, the Giants were to be feted in a ticker-tape parade and the city was thirsty to welcome their heroes home. On the way down on the subway, I got chatting with a guy about the game. We quickly got to that astounding play, the one where quarterback Eli Manning scrambled to that impossible escape and David Tyree made that impossible catch. This guy literally welled with tears and choked out that he really needed this game. I assumed he had laid a chunk of change on a bet. But he shook his head no. It was deeper than that. He said it was a tough year for his family and these improbable Giants winning the Super Bowl helped assuage their troubles. Sometimes I forget what healing power a winning team can bring a town.

Local press estimated three million fans along the route. My guess was considerably less but that's not important. It was a big crowd. Two or three players each on flat-bed trucks came sweeping by. What a shame inept organization made for an anti-climax. None of the players wore their jerseys. You knew Eli Manning. Michael Strahan. The rest of them? Even the hard-core fans around me didn't have a clue. Unlike baseball and basketball players whose faces we see during play, we don't know what haircuts or moustaches football players wear. We poked each other as the Giants floated by, asking who that big guy was. And the next guy. And the next. They can figure out how to make genius out of their mediocre season but they don't wear their jerseys for the parade so their fans can recognize them. Go figure.

As for the inescapable topic this week, Roger Clemens, I came to the conclusion witnessing all those hours of Congressional hearings yesterday that the Mitchell Report was thoroughly irresponsible. The mission was a sweeping probe of illegal drugs in baseball, yet the report wound up letting only two trainers tell tales and now a veritable witch hunt is serving to shred the reputation of one would-be Hall of Fame pitcher, even though this sworn testimony will never ferret out the truth. Somebody's lying. Is it Clemens or the trainer? Had the Mitchell report dug up a few dozen trainers with corroborating information from across the Major Leagues, then we might know the extent of drug use in baseball. As it is, we're raking Roger Clemens alone over the coals but chances are good we will never know the truth about him...or about the sport, pre-2008.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.



Diana Nyad