An Unblemished Victim?: Clemens is no Sacrificial Lamb.

Shawn DommerAnalyst IMay 8, 2008

The term scapegoat has it's origins in Judaism where the high priest would symbolically place the sins of the people in an innocent goat and sacifice the goat to God for his forgiveness. This ritual provides the tradition and the lens through which many throughout history (from Saint Paul to today) view the life and death of  Jesus.

To cast Roger Clemens as a scapegoat is wrong. Not because it may be religiously insensitive, but because it bears no truth. To suggest we placed the sins of the steroid era in Clemens and laughed as his legacy dies invokes that Clemens is an innocent, unknowing victim who has been destroyed for our amusement and pleasure. Many call Jesus a scapegoat for our sins because many believe him to be the unblemished, innocent lamb sent to sacrifice. To put Roger Clemens in the position of a pure, unblemished innocent man is preposterous.  

I grew up a Yankees fan but always admired Clemens. I owned "Rocket" Baseball for Super Nintendo and wore a Reebok shirt depicting Clemens' face wearing a Red Sox hat of all things. I have a plaque of his "Last Pitch" in the 2003 Series and he was no doubt, my favorite Yankee.

Two years ago I remember listening to an ESPN Radio show where the host was asking why Barry Bonds was being accused every two seconds but Clemens seemed to get a pass. The host's answer was that we liked Clemens better. I was outraged at the comment, in blind denial to the the truth that if you could use Bond's numbers, hat size and longevity to make a case for him taking steroids, then thesame case could be made for Clemen's use of performance enhancers. I didn't listen to the host's show for nearly six months.

The reaction to the Mitchell Report was somber because many of us lost a hero. It was shocking but not unbelievable. The numbers were there (a 6-6 record in the season before his first injection and a 14 - 0 record the rest of season after the injections started). Clemens clearly "bulked up" and seemed ageless.

However, it wasn't at this point we decided to crucify our hero. We waited to see his response and hope that he had an explanation. He did not, he only had an outright denial and a fiery insistence that he was a victim.

This was the last time Clemens could lay any claim to being a scapegoat.

In the months since the Mitchell report Clemens has crucified himself. It started with press conferences chastising the media and playing recorded phone conversations which proved nothing.

It continued with a demand to waste taxpayer dollars in a spectacle where the only "hard evidence" was produced by Brian McNamee and Clemens could only say a few things in different ways.

No one wanted to see Clemens go down in flames or have to dig into his life, but he made them.

In filing a defamation suit against his accuser, Clemens, in the court of public opinion and the legal courts, has called McNamee a liar.

Anyone after being called a liar is going to try to prove the one calling them a liar is a liar. Is anyone shocked or upset that the McNamee camp tried to find items disproving Clemens' credibility?

Let's look at what we have:

- Only "hard evidence" (needles and beer can) goes in favor of McNamee.

- Pettite and Knoblauch testify in support of Mitchell report and McNamee with nothing to gain from going against Clemens.

- The same evidence used to convict Barry Bonds in the court of public opinion can be used against Clemens.

-Clemens is only one of a very few who deny the Mitchell Report.

- Clemens lies about interactions with Jose Canseco.

That's just the basics. Labeling or suggesting that Clemens is a scapegoat is wrong because it's the assumption that Clemens did not deserve any of this. On the contrary, all the "evidence" we have points to the fact that he did. Through his actions (the chastisement of the media and the defamation suit) Clemens brought about the putting of his life under a microscope. He has no one to blame but himself. He carried his own cross, he put himself on it and buried himself. This was not a conspiracy or a good time, this is simply a quest for truth.

No one is delighting in the Clemens saga because they are unhappy with the war or the economy or the amount of rice they can buy at a store. If I want to forget about those things I watch a movie or go to the gym. We are intrigued by Clemens because he was our hero, the greatest pitcher of our age. We are intrigued by Clemens because it has gotten to the point of ridiculousness and we wait with baited breath for him to say enough and come clean.

I'm angry about the economy and the war. I deal with it by imagining a day when the current administration is long gone, our rights are restored, our economy is stabilized and we apologize for violating human rights. I deal with this by engaging the citizens around me, not opening the New York Daily News to see who Clemens slept with now.

Clemens had a choice. Many players have done wrong in the eyes of America and many have been forgiven. Look at Giambi or Pettite or even Pete Rose. Many players named in the Mitchell Report have chosen to apologize and are being cheered this season. We have been shocked by athletes in times of peace and prosperity and in times of war and recession. Clemens could have apologized but he made a gamble that people would believe him. They may have for a few weeks but he has nothing to stand on anymore.

I have already written that I think Clemens will eventually come clean, recieive forgiveness and be enshrined in Cooperstown. Lord knows you don't have to be Jesus to be in the Hall of Fame. However, the longer this defamation case goes on, the more Clemens jeopardizes those events happening.  Clemens is the farthest thing from a scapegoat...he's a liar and a hypocrite. The sins of the steroid era will be expiated through a full disclosure, contrite hearts and a vow to never allow it to happen again by the players, managers, owners and organization. We are in the midst of this process. Full expiation will happen with homerun numer 763.

Now, please stop telling me Clemens' predicament is the product of a disenfranchised public needing a distraction and let me mourn my hero in peace.