February 19, 2008
Right now, the Clemens situation is pretty simple. Roger is over and out.
But while everybody else is turning their backs on him, leaving the sinking ship before the bow goes under, we are here to help.
Understandably, Clemens hates newspaper people right now. During his steroids charade, we have not been gentle. We are guided by a public mandate and a constitutional amendment that makes us tell as much of the truth as we can. All appearances are that this is a foreign concept to Clemens.
Getting guidance from a newspaper type for his next step would probably not be his first choice. But what he doesn't know is that many newspaper people are becoming professionals at this, going over to the dark side, as we say.
They are called media consultants. The newsroom has other names, none printable.
These people have spent years as reporters and editors, learning to cut through the layers of half-truths and diversions of government, corporations and sports teams so they can deliver hard, substantiated facts to readers.
Then, somewhere along the way -- usually during newspapers' annual employee buyouts -- they realize it is a lot more lucrative to leave the paper and advise Enron how to sidetrack reporters than it is to be one. Their job becomes telling clients how reporters think, act and operate so their clients can anticipate, throw up smoke screens and obfuscate the obvious.
Suddenly, they are making much more to spin than they did to un-spin.
Is America a great country or what?
So, let's pretend we have gone to the dark side and our job is to tell our client, Clemens, how to get himself out of the fine fix he's in.
Listen closely, Roger:
You get a big room in a big hotel near a big airport and call a news conference. No need to worry about TV coverage. ESPN will buy all the electrical outlets.
You walk in with George Mitchell, sit down and start by saying how honored you are that a man of his stature is there; that you are flattered to be sitting next to somebody who has done things such as negotiating successful treaties in Northern Ireland.
Then you say you are sorry, that you won't be able to say that enough to properly express your depth of feeling. You explain that you are a proud man who is also almost psychotically competitive. You say that you really have no idea if the steroids and HGH helped all that much, that it could be that what you accomplished in baseball might have been accomplished anyway.
But the thought of other players having an edge overwhelmed your better judgment and sent you on your way. Then, one denial led to another and before you knew it, you didn't know how to turn back.
You don't expect fans' forgiveness, you just hope for a glimmer of understanding. You expect some of your personal pitching records to carry an asterisk wherever they appear, and you ask that your name not even be listed on any Hall of Fame ballot, because that might take votes away from a player more deserving.
You say that you want to play at least one, maybe two more years. But you will accept no salary for either. Your agent will attempt to negotiate as large a contract as he can, with assurances to any interested team that it will get your fullest effort.
Then, that salary, hopefully still in the eight figures, will go to two causes. The first will be used by Major League Baseball for costly blood tests of all players for HGH, done randomly, and for continued research into affordable HGH tests. The second will be a foundation that spends all its efforts getting high school athletes to understand the evils of performance-enhancing drugs.
You say that if it goes well, you'll keep playing as long as you are wanted, even five years away to age 50. You will also create a separate portfolio from your own fortune to supplement these two efforts.
You encourage teams to still consider you as a viable player, and you hint that these circumstances could greatly enhance action at the box office, which they clearly would.
You say that you want to be drug tested once a week, with a different member of the media getting to review the results each time.
You promise, in the off-season, to be an anti-drug evangelist at schools and Rotary meetings and every sports symposium that asks. You joke that the proof of how hard you are working will be your rising golf handicap.
You apologize to your wife for involving her in this and you describe how you sat your kids down and looked them in the eye.
Next, you do the hardest thing. You apologize to Brian McNamee.
Finally, you let Mitchell have the last word. Expect appropriate, articulate and scholarly.
Then go home, turn on the TV and watch how fast the worm will turn. Americans want to forgive you, to love you again, and the media that battles now for every stray eye and ear will quickly tune in to that and lead your reversal of fortune.
You will always be damaged goods, but a scar is infinitely better than the current stake you have protruding from your heart.
Your window of time is closing fast. Get rid of those two legal lumps you hired, Frick and Frack. Sit down, take a long look in the mirror. Then do it.
Oh, and no thanks needed here. We're on to the next fix-it projects, FEMA and Barry Bonds.
This could get tougher.
Bill Dwyre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous columns by Dwyre, go to latimes.com/dwyre.
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