After all is said and done with this Roger Clemens mess, I am left with two burning questions.
1. What is the Rocket’s remaining legacy?
2. Why in the world is it Congress’s business whether or not he used PED’s?
Okay I know the answer to the latter inquiry. The issue was that Clemens might have lied under oath... about using performance-enhancing drugs. But we’re talking about baseball here. Also known as America’s favorite pastime, and as much as I’d love another reason to bash Commissioner Bud Selig for ruining the game and letting the needles get out of hand, it still should never have even sniffed the front porch of Washington, D.C.
With that said, let’s address my first query. How will Roger Clemens be remembered? It’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago, Clemens was highly regarded as the greatest pitcher of all time. He is an 11-time all-star, a 7-time Cy Young winner, a 2-time World Series champion, and a 1-time AL MVP. A sure-fire, hands down, shut-it-down-let’s-go-home first ballot Hall-of-Famer.
But now? Regardless of whether or not you believe in Clemens’ innocence, it’s impossible to think of his name without linking it to PED’s. And even though he knew that there was no way for him to fully restore his name once the allegations surfaced, the irony in the matter is that’s exactly what he’s been trying (and technically succeeded) to do. Roger and his family walked away from the courthouse earlier this week relieved with the news that he had been acquitted of all counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements before Congress. But the question of whether or not he used steroids remains unsettled. If it is validation from the Baseball Hall of Fame that Clemens is looking for, the validity of his impressive career will be left to the voters’ decision as to how to treat this tainted Steroid Era in the MLB.
While the old excuse that “everybody else was doing it” may be the last thing you want to say to your parents, it might eventually work in this case. There is simply far too much speculation and headache to figure out which specific players used which specific substances during which specific points in their careers. Do they throw it all out? Punish the righteous and the sinful and not allow anyone from that generation to be recognized in the Hall? Or do they accept that it is what it is and strictly go by the numbers?
My two cents? Baseball wants to push the Steroid Era underneath the rug, but let’s not forget that the Steroid Era also produced the most epic home run record chase of this generation between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that arguably saved the sport. Steroids and other PED’s may have been pervasive during that generation, but all you can do now is look forward and try to prevent it from happening again. Either way, just as Pete Rose doesn't need the Hall of Fame to substantiate the fact that he was perhaps the game's best hitter, Roger Clemens does not need the Hall to substantiate that he was perhaps the most dominant pitchers this league has ever seen.
Photo courtesy of Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP