Why the Hate for Roger Clemens?
As apparently the last person in America who still loves Roger Clemens, I feel compelled to go off-topic today and address Maureen Dowd’s op-ed piece from SundayÂ addressing the recent mistrial in the U.S. Government’s case against the Rocket charging him with lying to Congress about his use of steroids and human growth hormones. Â The ostensible purpose of Dowd’s piece appeared to be an examination of the case against Clemens in the context of a series of recent high-profile prosecutorial failures (and, to her credit, Dowd takes a minute to give props to Judge Reggie Walton, who is an indisputable judicial badass — and the fact that he overcame some troubled teenage years to become so only serves to make him all the more praiseworthy).
But Dowd just couldn’t help but pile on to the endless public excoriation ofÂ Clemens (a phenomenon that reminds me in no small way ofÂ the blistering Lebron James has taken at the hands of the public since making what I consider to be the wise and obvious choice of Miami over Cleveland). Â Dowd even goes so far as to compare Clemens to accused murderer Casey Anthony and accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Give me a break. Â Even if you think Clemens is an arrogant jerk because he was/is unapologetically hyper-competitive about the game of baseball (and probablyÂ beat the crap out of your favorite team time and time again during his 23-year career), it doesn’t make him guilty of the perjury/obstruction charges for which he was being tried, let alone comparable to a killer or rapist. Â As I understand the evidence (an understanding which, admittedly, is based upon nothing more than media reports), the entire case rests on the oft-changing and highly questionable testimony of Brian McNamee and the less-than-compelling testimony of Andy Pettitte (testimony which apparently was so non-compelling that federal prosecutors felt the need to try and buttress it withÂ inadmissible video-taped hearsay from Pettitte’s wife, resulting in the mistrial). Â That’s hardly the “legal slam dunk” that Dowd suggests that it is.
Clemens may not be the world’s greatest person. Â For one thing, he’s an avowed Republican, for which I deduct an immediate ten points. Â He is also alleged to have cheated on his wife a number of times, threw a broken bat at Mike Piazza during game 2 of the 2000 World Series, and made some anti-Asian remarks, among other reprehensible behavior. Â But those misdeeds don’t justify convicting a man of offenses for which he has yet to be tried and for which there appears to be little evidence (and, by the way,Â given the high-stakes federal budget showdown currently underway, I wonder whether prosecuting Roger Clemens is really worth the tax dollars necessary to do it, especially now that the prosecutors’ mistakes have caused a mistrial). Â And it certainly doesn’t warrant relegating Clemens to the same league as alleged murderers and rapists.
Did Clemens lie to Congress? Â I honestly do not know. Â I certainly hope he didn’t, and I hope he didn’t take steroids or human growth hormones — for his sake and for the sake of baseball and its fans. Â But until he is convicted of the crimes he is accused of committing, I will continue to think that, while he may not have lived every minute of his life in a manner that can be held up to public scrutiny, the guy was a fierce competitor and a heck of a baseball player.