Jeff Pearlman

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The Rocket

Wrote this piece for today. Thought I’d share how it happened …

A decade back, one of my editors at Newsday was a woman named Pat Wiedenkeller. When I first arrived at the paper, I did everything to avoid Pat. Hell, I’d just come from Sports Illustrated. Everything I wrote was gold, right? Right? I mean, all the other editors were praising my work, handing out compliment after compliment. But Pat, damn Pat, actually … edited. She made changes. Suggested improvements. The nerve!

One problem: She was right. Always. I’ve never had a more on-point editor. Hell, I’ve traditionally loathed editing. But Pat knew how to cut the fat without losing the essence; understood wasted words and blathering nonsense. Before long, I came to not only enjoy Pat, but depend on her. “What do you think of this?” and “How does that sound?”

I digress. I left Newsday after it hit the shitter, and Pat jumped a few years later. She’s now the opinion editor at, and—kindly—calls me from time to time. That’s what happened yesterday; Pat wanting to know if I knew anyone who’d want to opine on The Rocket.

“What about me?” I said.

“Well, you just wrote about Lance Armstrong, and I didn’t think …”

“No, I can do it.”

She let me.

Initially, I figured I’d roast Clemens. He is a cheater and a liar and, even though he got off, his hands are awfully dirty. But then I started reading some Tweets, post-verdict. People don’t love Clemens, but they loathe the wasted money and time of the stupid trial. And I agree. It was stupid. And a waste of time. And money.

Hence, the column.


  • Dan Marks

    Jeff, I would like to agree with you, but you are wrong. You are wrong because we are a society of druggies, and we will forget. Too fat, take a pill; too skinny, take a pill. Want to have a kid, take a pill; don’t want to have a kid, take a pill. Have a headache, take a pill; think you may get a headache…. Fifty years from now, people will tell their kids, “I remember when he/ she broke the record.” Few will say, “I remember when the jury came back.” I wish you were right, but you (and I) are not.

  • Andy

    Hi Jeff – this post led me to your CNN column about Clemens which led me to you column on Lance Armstrong. Regarding the last one, I think your conclusion that Armstrong will be/should be invisible when all is said and done is a disservice to Livestrong and the work he does raising money for cancer. Doesn’t matter how you feel about his athletic endeavors, there’s more to him than that. There’s a good take on this at

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life