Look, let’s be clear, I would inject myself with jelly beans if doing so would allow me to become a professional baseball player (or would allow me to grow hair on my head and not in my ears). I’m not going to slam Roger Clemens for USING drugs. Hell, you would have to be a profound idiot not to understand that everyone is using something: let’s be crystal clear I believe that all professional athletes take or use something because there’s a lot of money at stake and the evidence of widespread use is overwhelming. Every sport is affected from high school on up, and for the record there is very little actual medical evidence that the stuff is harmful. Steroids kill 3-5 people on average per year as compared with nearly 600,000 for tobacco and alcohol… so spare me the indignant rantings of the stooges on Capitol Hill who demonize steroids while ignoring the staggering health effects of liquor and cigarettes.
I do, though, intend to take a poke or two at the big fella for the magnificent arrogance which compelled Clemens to believe that he should demand the opportunity to testify before Congress to deny that he used performance enhancers. You see, Roger did not appear before Congress because government investigators issued a subpoena- no-sirree, this guy essentially forced his way in, and then allegedly lied about his use of performance enhancing substances during his time with the Yankees. Yes, I know, the prosecutor handling the matter just screwed the pooch and Roger’s case was mis-tried, but that misses the point of the real story here. This is a classic American tale of “Man pitches well, makes millions and then loses his sense”.
First a bit of information about our hero: when Roger Clemens burst onto the baseball landscape he was fresh out of the University of Texas and became the best pitcher in the Major Leagues in at least a generation. When he was young, pitching for the Red Sox, Clemens was nothing short of amazing. Sure the “Rocket” was something of a rube (primarily because he called himself “Rocket”) and he liked to speak of himself in the third person; but who cared, that big Texan could hum that baseball. He was the real deal, almost automatic for 12 of his 13 seasons with the BoSox. When he left Boston, most people expected that his best years were behind him. It was a great story after that because he seemed suddenly reborn and went on to win five Cy Young Awards and two World Series rings. Had the story ended there Roger Clemens would have been carried into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the man, after all was said and done, had 354 regular season wins, won seven Cy Young awards and had a staggering 4672 strikeouts… but sadly our story didn’t end there.
Roger Clemens’ perjury trial was just declared a mistrial, but Clemens remains under a multiple count indictment for perjury based upon the allegation that Clemens lied to Congress about his alleged use of performance enhancing substances. Who knows how the case will turn out, or if the case will ever actually get under way, and let me be clear, I have no idea if Roger Clemens used performance enhancers, or whether or not he lied to Congress. Mr. Clemens deserves the full benefit of the presumption of innocence. All of this misses the point…
In the legal community, a person summoned to appear before a Grand Jury who has any criminal exposure is almost always advised to refuse to testify without a grant of immunity. Not only did Clemens not have that grant of immunity, the silly son of a gun didn’t have a subpoena either. Clemens, and his attorney, basically had to break into Congress and force the assembled politicians to listen as “The Rocket” cleared his name. He did that knowing full well that his former trainer, and one time close friend, Brian McNamee, made accusations to Senator Mitchell’s investigators that he injected Roger on numerous occasions with performance enhancers. It has also been reported that Andy Pettite, another close personal friend, testified that Clemens, admitted that to him that he had used the substances. When presented with that little gem, Mr. Clemens response was that Pettite must have “misremembered”. Huh? Is that all you had Rog? Have you lost your cotton picking mind, son?
Congressmen Tom Davis (R. VA) and Henry Waxman warned Clemens not to lie. Say what now? Yessir, Roger Clemens is now on trial and at risk of a federal prison sentence because he voluntarily went before the United States Congress, raised his hand, took an oath to tell the truth and then is alleged to have lied his ass off. Isn’t this sort of like the drug dealer who reports to the police that his drugs were stolen from him by another drug dealer?
Now that he’s under indictment on multiple counts of perjury I need to know what in the name of Barry Bonds was Clemens thinking. When they were selecting the jury on the first trial, Clemens’ attorney hinted that his client, that very same aforementioned Rocket, would or may NOW elect to exercise his Fifth Amendment Privilege at trial!!!! You could not make this stuff up, talk about a day late and a dollar short. The decision to force Congress to listen to Mr. Clemens’ proclamation that he didn’t use drugs, when he already knew that at least two people testified that he did, was a remarkable miscalculation. Who would do that, what the hell were you thinking Roger? As an attorney I recall thinking that this was a bad idea before I knew anything about the allegations. Roger old boy, all you had to do was go fishing with the kids, enjoy a long retirement and kick back while the baseball writers tried to figure out how to get you into the Hall of Fame, steroids be damned. Hell, Andy Pettite, David Ortiz and Alex Rodrigues have all managed to play and make millions after revelations that they used performance enhancers. So what are we to make of this case?
Let’s assume that McNamee is lying, that Pettite did, in fact, “misremember” and that the Mitchell Report got all of it wrong – so what! Who would expose themselves and their family to a Federal perjury indictment? But in a cruel ironic twist, I’d bet you three armadillo tails and a pick-up truck full of chicken fried steak that most people are now fairly well convinced:
- That he, like many of his peers used PED.
- That he looked like an idiot sitting there stammering about how his buddies could have gotten it all wrong.
Ironically, the decision to testify only served to place a very poorly prepared witness on the national stage, and here are the facts – Clemens probably didn’t convince many people that he never used these substances. The net effect of all of this is that Clemens stood before the Congress of the United States and basically said “Who you gonna believe? ME or your lying eyes?”
Guess that last pitch was a little outside and low Rog…next time send a Tweet and shut the hell up you big dummy!