While this spring is riddled with the resonance of winter, summer can always be looked forward to, where eventually the threats of storm warnings and advisories will die away. And summer will soon bring the perfunctory celluloid sales pitches, striving to draw each of us to the biggest “blockbuster” or “action-packed thrill ride of the year,” replete with ellipses that cut out any negative portions of reviews, only offering tidbits that suggest how “excellent [this film could be if the script weren’t pieced together from rejected fortune cookie].”
However, this summer brings life – and perhaps notoriety — to the asterisk; in fact, it’s already begun, as the perjury trial of Barry Bonds commenced last week, providing, as Ben McGrath suggests, “our great reckoning, a legal remedy for a generation’s worth of cultural complacency”1 over the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
By now, it’s generally assumed that Bonds – and myriad other athletes – used steroids, given the way that he “bulked up before the 2000 season and [had] acne on [his] back, which prosecutors allege is a side effect of steroid use.”2
So, a few years after Bonds’ baseball career officially raisinated on the vine as teams chose to keep themselves – and their players – away from abject suspicion, this trial fastens a new importance to the summer of 2011 inasmuch as July brings us the trial of Roger Clemens, undoubtedly the game’s greatest and most resilient pitcher – until a few years ago. Then, suddenly people remembered why Boston originally parted ways with Clemens, who was in the “twilight of his career”3 until he made a miraculous recovery in Toronto on his way to winning four more Cy Young Awards, all of which came after he turned 35. Fairytale-esque? Clearly, and that’s why we loved to root for both Clemens and Bonds, two men descending from the presumed zenith of their careers, only to dominate the rest of the league on their way to retirement – despite the blatant physical changes in both men.
Shortly after Clemens’ trial begins, “there waits the all-time Tour de France victor Lance Armstrong, currently named as the target of a drug-related federal grand-jury investigation,”1 making us all recall how wonderful it was when Armstrong successfully defeated cancer and then went on to win four additional consecutive Tours through the mountains of France, proving once and for all that defeating cancer provides the former victim with seemingly preternatural ability.