Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Roger Clemens Found Not Guilty of Perjury; Many of Us Not Buying It

So, a jury has found Roger Clemens not guilty of perjury. To be clear, the jury did not say that Clemens is not guilty of using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The verdict covers only perjury, not steroid use.

Perjury allegations are notoriously difficult to prove. The government had to prove that Clemens took PEDs, that he gave false information about events that occurred years ago and that he did so intentionally.

Regardless of the jury's ruling, there is plenty of evidence that the highly-competitive Clemens could not accept his mid-1990s decline and took steps to reverse it, including the use of PEDs.

Over his first nine seasons with the Red Sox (1984-1992), Clemens posted a 2.90 ERA and a 152-72 record. He also struck out at least 200 batters in seven consecutive seasons.

In Clemens last four seasons with the Red Sox (1993-1996), he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 40-39 record, one game over .500. Clemens never won more than 11 games in any of those four seasons and had a losing record in two of them. He also posted an ERA over 4.00 in two of those seasons. Additionally, Clemens failed to strikeout at least 200 batters for three consecutive seasons.

Four seasons is not a small sample size. For many players, it is an entire career. The "Rocket" was clearly in decline. Red Sox GM Dan Duquette famously said so when he noted that Clemens was "in the twilight of his career" after the '96 season and opted to let the free agent walk.

Obviously, that statement and the rejection lit a fire within Clemens.

Clemens was 34 years-old when he left the Red Sox following that season — past the prime of most pitchers in Major League history. Yet, after a four-year decline, he got substantially better in his mid- and late-30s, and even into his 40s.

Over the next two years with Toronto, Clemens posted consecutive 20-win seasons and had a 2.45 ERA. In each of those seasons, Clemens won the pitching triple crown by leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Due to those stellar performances, Clemens won the Cy Young award both years.

Following the '98 season, Clemens was traded to the Yankees. He was 36-years-old at the time. However, he posted a sub-4.00 ERA in six of the next eight seasons.

As he got older, Clemens somehow managed to get even better. Somehow, he was defying time.

By age 41 or 42, most future Hall of Fame pitchers are either retired or are shadows of their former selves. Clemens, however, went 18-4 and won his seventh Cy Young Award at the age of 41. And the next year posted a career-best 1.87 ERA.

How was Clemens' able to perform at such a high level in his 40s when no other pitcher in history could? Even the great Nolan Ryan wasn't that good after age 40.

Clemens won an unprecedented three Cy Young awards after the age of 40. That is more than just unprecedented; it is unfathomable. It's a safe bet that no one will achieve such an accomplishment ever again. Clemens' feats didn't just defy age; they defied rationality and logic.

During Clemens' perjury trial, his longtime strength coach Brian McNamee testified that he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and with HGH in 2000. McNamee produced a needle and other materials he said were from a steroids injection of Clemens in 2001, items that McNamee said he stored in and around a Miller Lite beer can inside a FedEx box for some six years.

Strange? Yes.

However, a forensic scientist who testified at the trial said that two cotton balls and a syringe needle saved after a steroids injection tested positive for Clemens' DNA. Alan Keel told jurors that the DNA on both cotton ball matches were "unique to one person who has ever lived on the planet" — Roger Clemens. Earlier government witnesses testified that steroids were found on the medical waste.

It is now established fact that McNamee injected Clemens' wife Debbie with HGH, as well as his teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knobluach. Pettitte previously stated under other that Clemens told him that McNamee had also injected him with HGH. Despite all of this, Clemens claims that he never used HGH or steroids.

Aside from the evidence presented at trial, the Mitchell Report also indicates that during his two seasons in Toronto (1997 & 1998), following those four subpar seasons in Boston, there is evidence that Clemens took performance-enhancing drugs.

By the end of his 23-year career, Clemens had famously won seven Cy Young awards, recorded 354 wins and notched 4,672 strikeouts. It's reasonable and fair to ask how much of that was attributable to PED's, not just hard work.

Clemens admits that he was indeed injected by his trainer, Brian McNamee. But he claims that the needles contained the vitamin B12 and the anesthetic lidocaine — not performance-enhancing drugs.

The late Boston Globe sports writer Will McDonough regularly referred to Clemens as the "Texas Con Man" during Clemens' tenure with the Red Sox. McDonough was right. In fact, he was quite prescient.

Clemens can try to sell his BS story all he wants, but many of us refuse to buy it. The evidence clearly indicates that he is both a liar and a cheat.


Anonymous said...

The steroid age is proof of people's desire to believe. It coincided with not one but two economic bubbles, the 90's tech bubble and the 2000's housing bubble. People want to believe things that are too good to be true. The media is made up of people who suffer from the same blindness, a willful blindness. We had the same willful blindness in the deception leading to the Iraq war. Clemens is a perfect metaphor for america. And his acquittal will just be used by him to reinforce his self delusion. Just like the rest of us.

Sean M. Kennedy said...

Great points. Clemens has surely convinced himself that he is innocent. Now he is going to ask baseball fans to join him in his delusion.