Roger Clemens: Hall of Fame Worthy?

Nicholas RoddyCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2010

Last week, Roger Clemens was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly lying to Congress during his 2008 House committee hearing on performance-enhancing drugs.

It was at this hearing that Clemens strongly denounced the possibility that he ever took human growth hormone or any other illegal steroid.

Before the allegations and constant criticism, the Rocket was a sure-fire Hall of Fame pitcher and was considered to have one of the best arms in MLB history.

Amidst all of the indictments and allegations, Clemens may be headed to a prison cell instead of Cooperstown.

In order to make a decision on Clemens' Hall of Fame worthiness, all of the facts must be laid out for all to see.

Was damage done before Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program?

Roger Clemens began his career with the Boston Red Sox as a young 21-year-old. In just his third year in the Bigs, he churned out a Cy Young and MVP award, after going 24-4 with an ERA of 2.48.

Back then, and up until 2001, steroids were a legal part of the game.

1998 was the hay-day of the steroids era, and Commissioner Bud Selig's first year in office. Coincidentally, that was the same year Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire both chased Roger Maris' record of 61 HR in a season.

However, at that time, Clemens' career began to wind down.

In 2001, Bud Selig adopted the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program to test performance-enhancing drugs, and punish players for positive tests.

By the time this program was implemented, Clemens pitched only five more full seasons of his 24 year career, and two injury-plagued seasons. It is safe to say that Clemens was on the down slope of his legacy after steroids became illegal.

So if Clemens were, as alleged by the grand jury, guilty of lying under oath to Congress and taking performance-enhancing drugs, what would be the repercussions? 

Clemens technically was a part of the steroid era, but his best years were past him. There is a possibility that after the drug program was enacted and steroid became illegal, Clemens stopped roiding and became clean, thus leading to the end of his career.

If this were the case, it would make for a very interesting trial.

Was he Hall of Fame pitcher before steroids were illegal?

If Clemens had called it quits before the 2001 season, and would have played his whole career with steroids as a legal part of the game, would he be a Hall of Fame pitcher?

In his long career, he won 354 games. If he would have cut it short and quit before 2001, he would have ended up with 260 wins. He would then be tied for 41st on the career wins list with Ted Lyons, who happens to be in the Hall of Fame.

He also finished his career with 4,672 strikeouts, good for third on the all-time list. Taking away his seven years after steroids were banned, he would have had 3,504 K's, which is still good for 10th in MLB history.

He would be ahead of guys like Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, and Pedro Martinez, while only five strikeouts behind legend Walter Johnson.

The voters would have to be on drugs of their own not to vote this kind of pitcher into the Hall of Fame. 

If he dabbled, he's done

The Hall of Fame voters will have to make a tough decision on the future of Roger Clemens when this saga finishes in court.

Some of them may say that steroids were a part of the game, and since Clemens dominated before players juiced, he should be in the Hall of Fame. 

Others might say that if he dabbled in steroids, he can't be inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

No matter what the truth is, whether or not he took steroids, the media and fans are already writing him off as a definite no on the Hall of Fame ballot.

ESPN's Michael Smith said on First Take, "It's not a lie if you believe it, so what is the truth if nobody believes it? Because whether or not he gets off or not, whether he is telling the truth or not, it does not matter. The damage is done. And his legacy is destroyed beyond repair."

Well the truth is that nobody believes Clemens, and it is already ingrained in voters' brains that he did steroids. They think that if Clemens gets in, the domino effect will lead to Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, and Sammy Sosa all joining Cooperstown.

It comes down to principle

In the end, it all comes down to principle.

For example, say your dad gives you the keys to his Camaro and leaves for the weekend. He doesn't say "Son, whatever you do, don't drive my car". 

Well say that you take his car out for a spin and scratch the paint or dent the bumper. You just wanted to dabble around, and he never said it was wrong. When he gets home, he says "Son, you should have known to not drive my car!"

That is the kind of principle at stake hear. If something was legal in baseball, and then illegal after most of a career, should the player be punished? Steroids were never illegal until Selig said they were.

There is absolutely no debate of whether or not Clemens is Hall of Fame worthy. He was one of the best pitchers ever, won seven Cy Young awards, and was a twenty game winner six times in his career.

The debate, however, is if these steroid allegations should boot him out of the running for Cooperstown.

He has denied, denied, and denied some more about using performance-enhancing drugs. And at some point, the truth will find the surface.

Whether or not anybody believes it, remains to be seen.