Rocket

I am not a court of law, therefore, I do not need to presume someone is innocent until proven otherwise. Yet, assuming the worst of someone without any proof is hardly reasoned discourse.

A few years ago a buddy of mine took Roger Clemens to task for steroid use. I objected as there had been no whispers that Clemens had juiced. I thought it unwise to smear arguably the greatest pitcher of our lifetime (yes, even greater than Lefty and Seaver) without any proof. A year or so later, the LA Times wrote about Clemens and steroids. Of course, the federal government scolded the newspaper for that recently and the LA Times issued a correction to Clemens the other day for the story it ran.

A front-page article on Oct. 1, 2006, incorrectly reported that in a search warrant affidavit filed in May 2006 in federal court in Phoenix, an investigator alleged that pitcher Jason Grimsley named former teammates Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons as players linked to performance-enhancing drugs. In the affidavit, which was unsealed Thursday, Grimsley did not name those players. The article also said Grimsley alleged that Miguel Tejada had used steroids. The only mention of Tejada in the affidavit was as part of a conversation with teammates about baseball’s ban on amphetamines. The Times regrets the error.

Last week when the Mitchell Report was released, Clemens’ name was the prominent name on the list. Clemens and pitcher Andy Pettitte are linked. Clemens pitched with Pettitte in New York and helped convince him to play in Houston when Rocket signed there. Both pitched for the Yankees again last year. In addition, both Clemens and Pettitte have used the same trainer, Brian McNamee, in both Houston and New York. Clemens used McNamee in Toronto as well.

McNamee is the source George Mitchell used to determine Clemens had juiced. McNamee had also stated Pettitte had illegally used HGH. Pettitte confirmed that.

This is where we are right now:

  • A source has implicated Clemens and Pettitte
  • He was correct about Pettitte
  • Why would he lie about Clemens?

Clemens, to his credit, has vehemently denied he juiced.

I believed a president who wagged his finger and emphatically stated he did not do what he was accused of. Marion Jones vehemently denied taking steroids. She even wrote a book denying it. She has since changed her tune. Barry Bonds, one of the greatest baseball players ever, has denied juicing. He is currently charged with perjury by the United States government.

Consider me skeptical.

I lived in Boston for four years during Clemens’ heyday. Much like my father and I used to time our attendance to Phillies games when Steve Carlton pitched, I saw Clemens every fifth day at Fenway. It was just a couple stops on the 57 bus to Kenmore Square.

Clemens used to come into our restaurant and then later we delivered to his house. He was always generous with memorabilia for our customers (I ran a restaurant partially owned by Bobby Orr and KC Jones). I am a huge fan, despite actually liking Greg Maddux’s pitching style better. I am in awe of his seven Cy Young awards. He was a mentor of Curt Schilling. His work ethic is legendary. He seemed an example of what every pitcher should strive for.

Yet, one is left with plenty of doubt about his accomplishments.

Clemens, of course, has not been accused of anything in a court of law. He is free to ignore this entire episode. He has had his career. He has made his money.

Yet, with a promised interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, I suspect Clemens is concerned with his reputation. There is one way to clear up the matter for good: put yourself under oath and answer the questions. Absent that, this is all smoke and mirrors. I would prefer to hear nothing, a la Mark McGwire, than to listen to a spin machine.

Mr. Clemens, you have always performed your best. I hope you continue to do so in what is to come.

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