John Rocker, a Major League Baseball pitcher for six years, is the author of "Scars and Strikes." After retiring from baseball, Rocker embarked upon a successful career in real estate development.More ↓Less ↑
It’s late June and the dog days have been beating down for the past several weeks as the season is already lethargically dragging. The only thing that seems to be languishing at a more apathetic pace is the current game that’s ongoing. It’s the 17th inning and the score has been tied at 5 for what seems like nine hours. The last base hit occurred at approximately 1:25 a.m., which was four innings ago. There hasn’t been a base runner in over an hour. This game has turned into nothing more than a giant effort in futility. If I had known today was going to turn out like this, I would have stayed back at the hotel.
I pitched as yesterday was turning into today, have sat through three rain delays, been sweating for what seems like an entire moon phase. At this point all I want to do is go back to my room, turn the A/C down to 60, crawl under some cool sheets and just go to bed! Enough already! Would somebody do something, ANYTHING, and get us the heck outta here?
As I sit in the dugout panting like a dog, our No. 3 hitter strides to the plate with two outs and no one on. At this point in the seemingly unending saga we find ourselves, belief has long since departed, but glimmers of hope still remain as we watch one of our top men dig in to do battle. We all know that at some point in time during this epic tug of war one side ultimately must concede. We all begin to pray that this will be that moment. As the at bat wears on our great “hope” works himself into a 2-ball and no strike count, and our faith begins to rise. “Surely this is it,” we all think with a confidently intuitive mind. In one moment all we have is a prayer. In the next one our prayers are answered!
The 2-0 pitch appears to be in slow motion, and even from the distance of the dugout one can see the eyes of our man swell. He likes what he sees, this game is about to be over. Before all of those thoughts could arrange themselves into a mental conversation the bat is swung and connects with a thunderous CRACK. A unanimous roar billows from the visiting dugout as we watch the tiny white sphere get smaller and smaller in the early morning darkness and clear the outfield wall by a comfortable margin. Our man once again had come through in the clutch!
In the instant moment we are elated to escape with a victory; in the next moment the joy over our win is overwhelmingly surpassed by the first audible sentence that could be heard above the celebration. “The bus leaves in 20!” shouts our bench coach while making a B-line for the clubhouse. We all follow at a frantic pace. It’s over! It’s finally over! Those cool sheets and the rest of my life have finally become a possibility.
I’ve lived the scenario I just described more times than I care to recall. There is nothing quite like the elation one experiences when a seemingly never-ending, largely ineffectual situation finally has closure. Many years after being absent from a sensation such as that, it finally happened again. After multiple “rain delays,” blatant errors and despicable blunders, the obnoxious multi-inning affair between our generally incompetent federal government and Major League Baseball has finally ended. On June 18 the acquittal of Roger Clemens on all federal counts figuratively pushed across the final run in what, at times, seemed like an endless and outright ridiculous saga.
The “game” that lasted more than nine years, wasted countless man hours, cost American taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, while irreparably ruining once-impeccable reputations, yielded but one obstruction of justice conviction carrying with it nothing more than two years’ probation and community service. If this “game” that had the first pitch thrown by our federal government doesn’t blatantly reveal the laughable incompetence of individual legislators such as George Mitchell, Elijah Cummings and John Tierney, to name a small few, much of our governmental process specifically and big government overall, then I’m quite sure nothing ever will. From my observation, all that emerged from the government-contrived three-ring circus over the past decade was an indictment of big government at large.
I have no doubt that as Roger Clemens stood 6’5″ and stone-faced in a federal courtroom June 18 and listened to a “not guilty” verdict on all counts spoken by one of his peers, his immediate elation was barely controllable. I’m equally as certain that his very next thought – precisely echoing the exact sentiments of the entire family of Major League Baseball, which has collectively dealt with this fiasco for nearly a decade – was simply, “It’s finally over! The bus leaves in 20!”