Let’s face it: athletes are supposed to do their talking on the field. So when they’re forced to defend themselves off of it, the air is ripe for awkward sound-bites. Add in the recent drama of the steroid witch-hunt in baseball, and you get some of the most awkward moments in sports history.
In honor of Thursday’s news that Roger Clemens will be indicted for lying under oath to Congress, HUMAN EVENTS brings you these rhetorical gems from baseball players under fire for steroid use. Call it the Top 5 Off-Base Moments in the sport’s history.
I will say this: I’m like a tortoise to judgment on whether x player took steroids. My sympathies usually lie with the player until proven guilty. Americans should know baseball is so much more than just a witch-hunt of steroid use. The players on this list were targeted to respond to steroid use for a reason: they made immeasurable contributions to the game. The below incidents just aren’t one of them.
1. Mark McGuire, the “Hedge Master”
McGuire’s hedging before Congress in 2005 when asked about his steroid use is now classic in baseball steroid lore. He chose not to testify under oath—for good reason. But that didn’t save him from being criticized for his answers to Congress, including his famous line, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
He came to terms with taking about the past five years later, when, hired as hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, he admitted using steroids at different times in his career.
2. Rafael Palmeiro, the Finger Point of Indignation
At a March 17, 2005 congressional hearing, Palmeiro points finger at a congressman and says, “I have never used steroids, period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.”
August 1, five months later: MLB suspends Palmeiro 10 days for failing a steroid test.
Congress decided that November that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to recommend perjury charges against Palmeiro.
3. Alex Rodriguez, from A-Rod to A-Fraud
Really, Alex? Lying to Katie Couric? In this “60 Minutes” interview from 2007, A-Rod denies taking any steroid, HGH, performance enhancing substance or even being tempted to.
Oops. Then we get this confession in 2009. It’s like walking backwards on the road to Damascus, where A-Rod now becomes A-Fraud. His body language undergoes a fascinating change between the two videos.
4. Sammy Sosa, I Don’t Speak English Routine
Sosa, originally from the Dominican Republic, appeared before the same committee in 2005 as Palmeiro and McGuire. However, he chose to have his lawyers read a statement denying steroid use at the hearing, and if you watch this video, it seems like he’s not very comfortable being questioned. Never having covered the Cubs, I can’t speak to how comfortable Sosa was answering questions on a regular basis, but I did find this interview where the language doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue.
Sosa hasn’t admitted to steroid use since, though he reportedly tested positive in 2003 in what was supposed to be an anonymous test. Maybe Congress should have asked him about corked bats instead.
5. Roger Clemens, State of Denial
Roger Clemens has denied using steroids or growth hormones — including before Congress in 2008 — more times than Pat Sajak has spun the Wheel of Fortune. His testimony continues to contradict others’ reports, including his former trainer Brian McNamee and Yankee pitcher Andy Pettite.
Now, the saga continues as Clemens was indicted for lying to Congress by a federal grand jury. Congress referred the testimony to the Department of Justice. I’m guessing the awkward moments will just keep coming.