The Shame of Roger Clemens

Ted WhitesideContributor IFebruary 17, 2008

Everyone has at least one in their family. Everyone has a "friend" like this. 

They're likable enough, but, you really don't want to be hanging out with them. It's even sort of cool to pretend that you're friends, but, you know that they are insufferably ego-centric, and have the self-reflection of a painted mirror.

Who are they?

They are the Roger Clemenses of your life.

You know, the guy who was supremely athletically talented...but, knew it. The guy who believed everything that he thought everyone else believed about him. The guy to whom humility was a weakness and who believed that because of who he is that the world would provide him free passes along the way. 


Because he is special. Period. Nothing more to be said.

Thus, when, if ever, the need for empathy, consideration, what we call "a pass" is in's not given. Call it "evening the score", call it "what goes around, comes around"—it all comes down to a leveling of the great human hum in the sky.

So, when we scan the car-wreck that is the Roger Clemens' life at this point we don't see any EMTs running to the rescue. The medivac helicopter is busy elsewhere—probably tending to Andy Pettite.

Good Samaritans turn out to be mediocre Samaritans as they drive on by. All the while, Roger is bleeding and the debate is more about when he's gonna recognize it as opposed to how to find a tourniquet.

What did Roger do to deserve this?

Well, we could point to his unbelievably arrogant and self-serving conduct in the Red Sox-A's playoff game in 1990.

Thrown out of the game in the second inning for screaming profanities at umpire Terry Cooney, Clemens later claimed that he "was talking to his glove." On his way off of the field, Clemens was overheard by several umpires and players to tell Cooney "I'll find out where you live and I'll get you this winter."

Boy, what a competitor, huh?

Or, we could present as evidence his behavior in the 2000 World Series. His explanation for throwing the broken head of a bat at New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza?

"I thought it was the ball."

When further queried, Clemens, in a line that I'm sure he would have liked to utter to the congressional panel investigating his use of performance-enhancing drugs, said, "I can't believe this. We win Game Two in the World Series, and all they ask about is this s---."

Wonder why so few are shedding tears over Clemens' fate?

However, in a quasi-masochistic way, it's our fault. We tolerate these kind of guys because of their great skills. We overlook the pitiful, self-absorbed behavior to bask in their dimly reflected glory. We accept their brutish and uncivilized manner because, well, they are "special."

But, we don't want to really be their friends. And, we surely are not going to rescue them when they're finally suffering from self-inflicted wounds.

Too bad—for all of us.