Baseball Tries for Normalcy Despite Clemens, Bonds It's been a big week in baseball: Congress doesn't appear to be buying Roger Clemens' story; Barry Bonds has found himself without a team; and spring training has brought a return to the time-honored, exhibition ritual of major league clubs trampling college baseball teams.
NPR logo

Baseball Tries for Normalcy Despite Clemens, Bonds

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Baseball Tries for Normalcy Despite Clemens, Bonds

Baseball Tries for Normalcy Despite Clemens, Bonds

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Pitchers, catchers and all other players have reported for duty to baseball training camps in Florida and Arizona. Exhibition games began this week, but the biggest baseball headlines continue to emanate from right here - Washington, D.C.

And joining me now as he does most Fridays is sports writer Stefan Fatsis of The Wall Street Journal.

Hi Stefan.

Mr. STEFAN FATSIS (Sports Writer, The Wall Street Journal): Hey, Robert.

SIEGEL: Let's vow at the outset to get to other issues like playing baseball, but we begin with Roger Clemens versus the Congress. Where do we stand?

Mr. FATSIS: Well, yesterday, the FBI announced that it's going to investigate whether Clemens lied to Congress during that hearing earlier this month about taking performance-enhancing drugs that came a day after there was a memo released by Representative Henry Waxman. Very damning, it breaks down Clemens' testimony to the House committee and flat out says that he was not truthful.

Clemens escaped, as you might guess he would do, to the sanctuary of the baseball field. He threw batting practice and offered pointers to Houston's Astros' minor leaguers on Wednesday and yesterday, but he was a no-show today after questions were raised with the Astros' owner, Drayton McClain, about whether it was appropriate for Clemens to be there and after a two-day long media circus.

SIEGEL: Meanwhile, lawyers for Barry Bonds are trying to get his perjury and obstruction of justice indictment thrown out of court. Bonds doesn't have a team to play for this spring, and he evidently is interested. Stefan, would it make sense to a baseball franchise to sign Barry Bonds?

Mr. FATSIS: I think it would. You read and hear about how old Bonds is - 43 -he doesn't run well, he's a defensive liability. But usually you hear all of that in conjunction with non-baseball reasons, he'd create a media circus, he'd be bad for a team's image.

I read a piece on Baseball Prospectus today by Joe Sheehan that argues that none of that is grounded in an objective analysis of Bonds' baseball ability. He's still a great hitter. He was essentially the National League leader in on-base percentage. He could probably be had for the relative bargain price of $10 million for a year. So if he doesn't get signed, it's probably for all of these other reasons. And I think the reason he will get signed is, in pro sports, onfield performance almost always trumps baggage. Someone's going to need this guy.

SIEGEL: Talking about baggage, in another context, the Dodgers will be packing their bags once again, this time not moving from Brooklyn, but moving from Vero Beach, Florida, the site of their spring training facility, Dodgertown.

Mr. FATSIS: After 60 years in Dodgertown, one of the real last great anachronisms - one of the quaintest places in all of sports. It's a real time warp down there. Staffers ride bicycles around the ground, fans walk on the same paths to and from fields as the players. There's no dugouts on the field. Streets and buildings are named for Dodger greats. It's all about hero worship.

I wrote a piece 11 years ago about the imminent death of Dodgertown, so maybe we should just be thankful that one of these last throwbacks in sports has endured as long as it has.

SIEGEL: Imminent in baseball means something different. The Dodgers and baseball's 31 other teams began playing exhibition games this week, and that means the time-honored ritual of Major League clubs beating up on college teams.

Mr. FATSIS: Yeah. There were nine of these games through yesterday. Total score: Big leaguers, 111; college kids, 12. The Red Sox split up their team and beat Boston College and Northeastern by a combined score of 40 to nothing. The Atlanta Braves improved their record to 22 and 0 in their traditional spring opener against Georgia - or Georgia Tech. But there was one school that did do itself proud, the University of Michigan - tied the New York Mets, four to four.

SIEGEL: Okay. Stefan, thank you. Have a good weekend.

Mr. FATSIS: You too, Robert.

SIEGEL: Sports writer Stefan Fatsis of The Wall Street Journal who talks with us on Fridays about sports and also the business of sports.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.