Our snarling Clemens timeby John Brattain
February 08, 2008
Innocent until proven guilty.
Before we proceed further, I would like to give you my opinion. My evidence is two-fold: first what my gut tells me (and after digesting my thoughts fully, I can pull my opinion out of my…) and second, why my gut tells me this.
I believe Roger Clemens did use anabolic steroids and quite possibly human growth hormone.
I think this not because Clemens has been called "The Texas Con-Man" or because he has always chased the highest dollar, or because he may be a disreputable sort, or, for that matter, because he was named in the Mitchell Report. The game has been awash in performance-enhancing drugs. Even though we could count the sources in the Mitchell Report on one hand, it still turned up 90 names.
Baseball is an incredibly lucrative and fun job. Leaving that behind is incredibly painful for those who have excelled in it. Dave Stieb said his future held two deaths in store for him. One is the certain phenomenon often linked with taxes, the other was when he could no longer play.
Since, for the longest time, there was no testing and no club invoked the probable-cause provision in the collective bargaining agreement and had a player tested for steroids, there were too many reasons to use them. Steroids made a player powerful. Initially, it helped them recover from injury faster or play hurt more often—and improved play always translates into improved pay. Finally, steroids held the promise of allowing a player to squeeze an extra season or two into his career.
I am more surprised about the players who didn’t use in such an environment.
Having said this, I find it appalling to read the assumption of guilt among so many. Time and again, we read in the media that Clemens would be better off 'fessing up, coming clean, and telling the truth. We’re subjected to headlines such as:
Game of denial not working for Clemens
Don't Read This If You've Already Showered
Forensics Emerge in Rocket’s Roid Scandal
Roger Clemens Has Only Himself to Blame
Rocket and a Hard Place
Clemens Faces Game Of Legal Dodge Ball
3 Former Baseball Players: 'I Don't Believe Clemens'
Team Clemens' latest defense doesn't prove anything
Long, misleading Clemens report to bore Congress
Mitchell says Clemens' former trainer 'truthful' about steroids
Clemens' denial doesn't hold water
Mitchell still believes Clemens is a dope cheat
Pampered Clemens just doesn't seem to get it
Clemens' latest pitch certainly won't pay off
Steroids reply ruins Clemens’ baseball legacy
Clemens is no different from others who fixed games
We listened, but Clemens doesn't have the goods
Et cetera, et cetera… What are they basing such certainty on? The word of an extremely disreputable man and Clemens' post-40 career.
Since DNA evidence has come to the fore in his case, it is noteworthy what DNA testing produced. It got people off death row. How did these individuals get there? It was due to dubious evidence, unreliable testimony and somebody working incredibly hard to establish guilt where none existed.
It was this level of "evidence" that gave folks a hot date with a state’s friendly syringe, a chance to enjoy calling to their Maker under much emotion while enjoying a little bondage on a gurney.
Such evidence convinced judge and jury alike to the point where they felt comfortable snuffing out a life. They heard testimony from various persons, the defendant (and others) were interrogated and cross-examined and the conclusion reached: not only is this individual guilty—the person no longer deserved to live.
Interrogators involved in these particular cases must have been quite proficient getting their subjects to say or admit things that were clearly not true.
The evidence against Clemens is the testimony of a man who was involved in a rape case, a drug trafficker/distributor who is primarily concerned about protecting his own keester.
To think that this investigation is clearly above reproach is naïve. There are people out there looking to further their careers, burnish their reputations, make names for themselves or simply do what they feel is in their own interests—even if it means somebody suffers for it.
We have learned that Brian MacNamee didn’t tell George Mitchell or the federal investigators about the "physical evidence" in his possession. Put another way, even though he was told that lying to them could land him in the big house, he did so anyway. Bottom line, the man isn’t trustworthy since he either lied to protect Clemens or manufactured evidence to save his own backside in all this. The fact remains that MacNamee is clearly looking out for himself. If he’s better off siding with Clemens, he’ll do one thing. If he thinks he’s better off selling Clemens up the creek, he’ll do another.
How can we trust anything this person claims? However, this is the man who so many in the media are using as evidence to put their guilty verdict into print. Granted, I have said here that I think he’s guilty, but were I to vote on a jury with the current evidence and testimony, I’d vote “not guilty.” My opinion is just that, I freely admit such, and I will not act like my opinion is gospel and that Clemens should act in accord with my preconceived notion.
Just to touch on Clemens’ performance in his 40s:
Pitcher GS IP ERA K K/9 Roger Clemens 134 849.2 2.99 863 9.14 Nolan Ryan 156 1053.0 3.16 1234 10.55
Clemens had the better ERA and ERA+, but he had nowhere near the power and stamina Ryan had. After turning 40, Clemens went the distance twice. At the same ages, the Ryan Express did so 17 times! To say that Clemens pitching in his 40s is proof of the juice is to call into question how Nolan Ryan pulled off his feats.
As I said at the outset, I think Clemens is guilty, but it’s based more on the era in which Clemens pitched than it is the testimony of Brian MacNamee or the findings of the Mitchell Report.
Our good friend, and THT stalwart, John Brattain passed away on March 24, 2009. John was a prolific writer, whose work can also be read at Sympatico/MSN Sports and Baseball Digest Daily. John's work was also featured at USA Today, MLBtalk, ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Analysts and The Baseball Journals. Never afraid to express himself in any medium, he was also a frequent radio speaker.