This week's electronic conversation between sports columnists Gary Shelton and John Romano:
GS: Poor Roger. Poor, poor Roger. First, his old trainer is out to get him, then the Mitchell report, then all the Democrats in Congress, and now, it seems to be every woman in America. Why is everyone picking on the Rocket?
JR: Because picking on Barry Bonds has gotten boring?
GS: Barry was never this much fun. Tell me: How courageous is it for a guy to cheat on his wife when he knows she has been on steroids?
JR: Aren't steroids supposed to decrease your sex drive? Based on his number of alleged mistresses, I'm beginning to think Roger may be telling the truth about being steroid-free.
GS: No, you aren't.
JR: Hey, I never joke about shrinkage.
GS: Seriously, do you think there is ever a time when Roger wishes he would have played all of this differently? What if, right after the Mitchell report came out, Clemens sat before the cameras with a tear in his eye and said, yes, he did steroids, but it was because of the time and the culture that the sport allowed? Don't you think America would have forgiven him right there?
JR: Absolutely. No one is looking into Andy Pettitte's past. No one is ridiculing Jason Giambi. Granted, Clemens would have taken a bigger hit because he is a larger presence in the game, but, in time, the story would have faded instead of grown.
GS: Not only that, but then Clemens doesn't get his reputation slapped around on Capitol Hill, and there are no stories about Jose Canseco or Mindy McCready or Manhattan bartenders. I don't know much, but I do know that on the day time travel is invented, Clemens is in line to go back and take another shot.
JR: Maybe he could book a flight with Pete Rose.
GS: And Marion Jones. And Michael Vick. And all the other members of the Liars' Club.
JR: All the President's Men should be required reading for athletes. They never seem to realize the cover-up is often as damaging as the crime. Jones is in prison because she lied. Vick, too. He has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL commissioner because he lied. Rose alienated most of his fans because he lied. Bonds and Clemens are facing criminal investigations because they might have lied.
GS: I think the message is pretty clear. If God wanted athletes to lie, he would have made them agents instead.
JR: Since John Daly is an overweight, hard-drinking gambler, does that mean God wanted him to grow up to be a sports columnist?
GS: Nah. Sports columnists like playing golf.