Roger Clemens was found not guilty of lying to Congress. We’ve long been past the point where that means he didn’t do it in the court of public opinion.
Our justice system has been built on the theory that it’s better to allow ten guilty men to be free than one innocent man go to jail. It’s supposed to be hard for the prosecution to prove the defendant did it.
It’s tough to write this with the huge elephant right in front of my keys so let’s get it out of the way. This prosecution—persecution in the eyes of Clemens’ fans—was a colossal waste of money. Congress has far more important things to take up their time, and our money, than worrying about athletes taking steroids or HGH. It’s none of their business.
First and foremost, please understand that Clemens wasn’t on trial for taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). He was charged with lying to a Congressional Committee. Just as Barry Bonds was on trial for lying to a grand jury, not for taking PEDs.
Congressional Committees and grand juries are the cornerstone of our judicial system. Without harsh penalties for lying to them, our system would shut down. If I’m not mistaken, witnesses generally have immunity while testifying, so they don’t have to worry about putting themselves in danger of being arrested for their testimony.
Let’s deal with the very popular opinion that Congress should never have been conducting these hearings in the first place. The government has no business sticking their nose into professional sports. Let the leagues take care of themselves.
The government’s nose is buried quite deeply in the business of professional sports.
How do you think these colossal, expensive stadiums get built? The state of Pennsylvania certainly has a right to stick it’s Keystone State nose into their teams’ business, having invested more than $500 million of taxpayers’ money into professional stadiums between 1999 and 2009.
Baseball certainly should be open to federal scrutiny considering the fact they enjoy the benefits of operating a monopoly through an anti-trust exemption they’ve been granted.
Once again, fans choose to romanticize professional sports and not think of them as an industry like any other. A multi-billion dollar industry that crosses state lines, employs tens of thousands, enjoys tax dollars from many government agencies and in baseball’s case, enjoys a federal anti-trust exemption.
There, so much easier to type without that beast in front of the keys.
Now the fun part. Do we think that Clemens did in fact take PEDs?
Let me give you his career stats broken into three categories. His first ten years in Boston, his last three in Boston and then post-Boston.
Category First 10 Years Next Three Post-Boston(11 seasons)
Innings/Season 222 184 194
Average Record 16-9 9-8 15-7
ERA 2.96 3.54 3.30
WHIP 1.126 1.301 1.315
CG/Season 9 3 2
K/9 innings 7.6 7.8 8.8
K/BB 3.03 2.03 2.86
Cy Youngs 3 0 4
When the Red Sox made the decision to let Clemens go after the 1996 season, the prevailing theory was that he was winding down a great career. He was 35 and had just pitched nearly 40 fewer innings each of the past three seasons compared to his first ten.
He was barely a .500 pitcher whose ERA had ballooned over half a run per game and his strikeouts to walks had dropped significantly. This clearly looked like typical aging of a 35-year-old and no one faulted GM Dan Duquette for allowing Clemens to sign with Toronto.
What happened over the next 11 years was certainly remarkable.
Clemens won four more Cy Young Awards and seemingly found the fountain of youth when he met trainer Brian McNamee in Toronto. There’s no denying that McNamee is slimy. There’s also no denying the fact that McNamee provided PEDs to players that he worked with.
Can we connect the dots between McNamee handing out PEDs, Clemens working with McNamee and Clemens’ 11-year resurgence? Apparently not in a court of law but that’s not where we are. It’s just us here.
Come on people. Two plus two certainly look like four here. The reason the jury found Clemens not guilty was because McNamee was such an unbelievable witness and former teammate Andy Pettitte apparently did misremember what he heard Clemens say about using PEDs.
I understand the acquittal but that doesn’t mean he didn’t do it.
Should Clemens be elected to the Hall of Fame?
The next battle for Clemens comes next year when he’s on the Hall of Fame ballot. The voters have been very clear that they won’t vote for anyone suspected of PED use. Will Clemens fall into that category?
Here are the two points made by Clemens’ supporters. He was a beast because of his hard work and he never failed a drug test.
Both ridiculous statements. If, in fact, he took PEDs, then yes he would be a workout warrior. What do you think a main benefit of PEDs is? It allows you to recover from injury and workouts much, much quicker which lets you get back in that weight room and do more than someone not on PEDs.
Never failed a drug test? Well that’s easy to do during a period of time where MLB wasn’t testing for steroids and never did test for HGH. And there are masking agents that can hide the fact you’ve taken steroids.
Point of clarification: Do NOT tell me that steroids weren’t banned in MLB. They’ve always been illegal without a physician prescribing them and thus have ALWAYS been banned in baseball. They didn’t test for them and you can certainly make a point that MLB must not have taken them very seriously if they didn’t test for them, but they were always banned.
So, will Clemens get into the Hall of Fame? Given the current climate, I don’t think he will. Should he? That’s the interesting question. There’s no way to know for sure who juiced. If he did, how many of the hitters he faced also did? If Bonds did, then which pitchers he faced did?
The playing field is uneven. I think it’s an individual decision as to what information the voter wants to use to ascertain if a player took something. If the voter thinks he did, then he won’t vote for him. I can live with that.
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