MLB Hearings: Has Roger Clemens Dug His Own Grave?

Jeffrey SantonAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2008

Roger Clemens is a seven-time Cy Young Award Winner.  Over the last two decades, he has been one of baseball’s most recognized faces, a kind of representative. 

Maintaining stats worthy of the Hall of Fame and now with a newfound youth, this 45–year-old still ranks among the top tier pitchers in the game.

But, as have blighted the careers of so many, allegations of the use of performance enhancing drugs stopped Clemens in his tracks.  The much-anticipated Mitchell Report detailed the charges.

So Clemens had a big decision to make.  This iconic would-be-legend-of-the-game had to choose his words carefully in either defense of innocence or concession of guilt, knowing full well that to admit wrongdoing would mean throwing away everything he had ever worked for, everything he’s earned.

Guilty or innocent, Roger chose to fight.

He has vehemently denied use of performance enhancing substances.  Senator Mitchell, however, did include Clemens in his report of a personal investigation into the level of use of such drugs in the game. 

Mitchell's source: Brian McNamee, former strength and conditioning coach of Clemens.

When Clemens first came out and denied use he made the decision that he would deny all allegations and never turn back.  But if he thought this battle would simply pit McNamee’s word against his own, well he was mistaken.  In such a case, it would be almost impossible to prove guilt, and of course that’s what the bigwigs are after.

Trying to understand what I might do were I in Clemens’ shoes, I figured that as long as the accused party denies, denies, denies, and as long as all tests come back negative, McNamee’s claims could never amount to anything.

But the plot thickens.

McNamee has reportedly saved physical evidence to bolster his credibility— from vials with traces of steroids and HGH to blood-stained syringes and gauze pads supposedly used by Clemens.

A rational person immediately questions just why someone would keep such self-incriminating evidence.  McNamee claims his being a "former police officer" and says he preserved evidence from 2000 and 2001 out of fear they would get busted and Clemens would deny use.

Obviously Clemens’ defense team has plenty of angles to work here.  His attorney issued a statement already, stating that "Brian McNamee is obviously a troubled man who is obsessed with doing everything possible to destroy Roger Clemens."  

That’s one angle that nobody is surprised to see played.  However, I don’t think it would have been in McNamee's best interest to falsely out a player like Clemens, especially when he already was dropping Pettitte and he didn't put up any fight at all.

Mr. Breuer, Clemens’ attorney, continues to speak to McNamee’s "manufactured evidence.”  This situation will get ugly if Roger indeed lied.  

Clemens spoke with a federal committee on the issue to prepare for a public session scheduled for next week.  He commented on this, saying "I just want to thank the committee, the staff that I just met with.  They were very courteous…It was great to be able to tell them what I've been saying all along.  That I never used steroids or growth hormones."

For your sake, Mr. Clemens, I hope you understand the motive behind the committee’s courtesy.  They are going to be nothing but nice in preparing for the hearing.  Your comfort is imperative. They’re hoping you’ll incriminate yourself, Mr. Clemens, and possibly under oath.  

I promise, the volume will be turned up significantly next Wednesday and your comfort will no longer be their concern; you’ll be walking into the lion’s den.

If Roger is guilty he knows that he could have a very rough battle in store, and it's just too late to turn back now.  Who knows what Andy Pettitte said under oath?  If he is aware of any use by Clemens, would he have divulged?  Will McNamee's evidence turn out to be worthy of backing Federal charges of perjury?  Will that thought scare Pettitte into squealing?  What if McNamee once shot them up in the same room?

Pettitte could be bitter that he took his lumps to avoid this process and Clemens is forcing him into it.  

Basically, if Clemens is truly innocent he will in all probability escape this matter unscathed.  But if he is indeed guilty he’s gotten himself into quite a mess.  He’ll try to dance his way out of it, only to be slammed with Federal charges.

Bottom line, next Wednesday could be the most interesting hearing of the steroid era yet. 

For Roger Clemens, it's the fight of his life.