Even though he hasn’t worn pinstripes for a while, Roger Clemens is still making headlines for his career as a New York Yankee, unfortunately not for his legendary performances on the mound. Clemens was recently indicted for making false statements to Congress during the hearings about performance enhancing drugs in baseball.
Just mentioning his name leads to a handful of very heated debates including, but not limited to
- Why is Congress bothering and does anyone really care?
- Did he use PEDs in the first place?
- Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?
- Is he the victim of his former personal trainer’s quest for fame?
- If he did use drugs of any kind, why doesn’t he just come clean like his former friend Andy Pettitte and others?
To have Congress go after Clemens and investigate baseball at a time when the US is involved in two wars and there’s alarming unemployment and financial crises is suspect. Is this just some smoke and mirrors plot to distract from other major issues? Perhaps. Why is this Congress’ job anyway? Shouldn’t MLB be policing its own?
I’ve talked to a lot of baseball fans who just don’t care anymore. Let’s just assume, they say, that all players during that era were juicing and move on. That’s ok if everyone is comfortable with it, but I don’t think the players who weren’t juicing would appreciate that. Additionally, Clemens, just like Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong and every athlete around whom there have been rumors of PED use are still innocent until proven guilty. Why can’t the government prove it, at least in the case of the first two?
Does Clemens belong in the Hall? Certainly based on his numbers he does. But if Pete Rose is still barred from the Hall for breaking the rules around gambling and moreover, not admitting to it, that would mean that those who broke the rules around PED use and continually deny it should be excluded too, right? But here’s the thing – other than no one actually proving (yet?) that Clemens used PEDs, baseball’s rules were less than comprehensive. Remember the whole andro flare up with Mark McGwire way back when? When guys used to keep all of their supplements in plain view in their lockers? They never saw anything wrong with it because MLB’s policies were way behind the times. Now the league is trying to play catch-up.
Clemens is a perfectionist, and one could argue a tad moniacal. He had to take the mound to “Rocket Man” to start every game. One time the scoreboard staff tried something different – a bit edgier. He FREAKED. Following that it was Elton John forever. He had to approve pictures before they were printed in team publications because he always wanted them to show sound mechanics. His workout regimen is the stuff of legend. At one time, Ted Lilly, almost a decade and a half younger than Clemens, tried to work out with him and ended up barfing a couple hours in. A couple hours was about the half-way point, FYI.
The dynamic between Brian McNamee (Clemens’ former personal trainer implicating him in the PED case) and the Rocket was strange at best. McNamee was ultimately dismissed by the Yankees after he was named in a GHB rape case in Florida, even though charges were never filed. The Yankees put McNamee on the payroll because Clemens wanted him there. And McNamee had access to just about everything. He had a locker in the clubhouse and shadowed Clemens endlessly. It was shortly after his firing that MLB cracked down on who was allowed in the clubhouse and when. Again, closing the barn door too late. It’s unclear why McNamee decided to turn on Clemens and “come clean.” Regardless, he’s not seen as the most trustworthy person, either.
The Rocket had a tireless work ethic that’s for sure, so you wonder, if he did use PEDs, how much more of an edge did it give him? Taking it further, how many more strikeouts or wins could they have generated? Is it marginal or are we talking a lot? Probably more the former, and most likely not enough to make or break his Hall of Fame chances. He was a slam dunk before all of the PED stuff; now, not so much.
I can’t help but think of Marion Jones, who for years adamantly and angrily denied and denied she used PEDs. Once the fastest woman in the world, she was headed to prison for six months. Again, supreme arrogance ruled and you have to wonder how fast was she without the help? Fast enough to win? Maybe?
My eighth grade social studies teacher had the best theory ever – one that would have kept Nixon president, allowed Ted Kennedy to run for the highest office, and kept Bill Clinton from getting impeached. At the first sign of trouble, tell the truth – ALL of it, apologize and move on. The American public will forgive you; they just hate being lied to.
So what are fans left with? The testimony of Andy Pettitte, Clemens’ one time best friend in baseball. Clemens took Pettitte under his wing and helped develop him into one of the most successful pitchers in baseball. Pettitte trained under McNamee and admits he took HGH to recover from injury. He also testified that the Rocket told him of his own PED use. Clemens said his buddy “misremembered.”
I have to hand it to Pettitte. He always espoused the fact that he was a Christian, as many professional athletes do, but not in an in-your-face kind of way like some of them who are eventually busted with three hookers and a bag of coke in a limo outside a strip club. Pettitte walked the walk. When the pressure was on, and there was a lot at stake – his reputation, his career in baseball, and his friendship with his mentor, he told the truth.
Clemens could learn a lot from his former student.
About the Author
Written by Stephanie Geosits