Roger Clemens: American Idiot

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2009 at 7:32 pm

There’s a new book out today, American Icon, written by four NY Daily News investigative reporters which chronicles Roger Clemens’ speedy tumble from Athlete Hero to Bozo the Clown. Tellingly, the book is about 465 pages long and delves pretty deeply into Clemens’ sordid drug past. As soon as I heard about the book, I began waiting for the inevitable Clemens interview  – the one we’ve seen before, in which he awkwardly, as if reading from a script, preaches his innocence to an American public that clearly knows better.

Then this morning, in a move that shocked absolutely no one, Clemens (who hasn’t spoken publicly since appearing before Congress in February 2008) showed up on ESPN’s Mike & Mike radio show to denounce the book on its release day. “Completely false,” he called it. “It’s hurtful at times,” he added. “But I’m trying to move on.”

You’re trying to move on. Is that it Roger? Trying to move on from all those hurtful allegations of steroid use that can’t possibly be true, even though their evidence fills a 400-plus page book, on shelves today? When are you going to give it up, Rocket? You’re cooked buddy. Yet you continue to deny. 

And that’s why I think Clemens is an idiot. Not because he took steroids – who didn’t? – and not because he disgraced the history of the game or something ridiculous like that (it’s hard to disgrace a history which prominently includes close to 50 years of segregation).

I think he’s an idiot because he denies it.

History is much more forgiving of an honest mistake than it is of a cover-up, but guys like Clemens and his brother-in-(chemically enhanced) arms, Barry Bonds, don’t seem to realize that. Whether because of horrendous PR advice or unchecked pride, Clemens has steadfastly denied his use of steroids in the face of ever-mounting truckloads of evidence against him. I mean, there’s almost zero chance that he’s telling the truth. You’ve got Brian McNamee putting him in the locker room, syringe in hand. You’ve got the visual documentation of his abnormal, late-career physical growth. Hell, you’ve even got the testimony of Clemens’ former BFF Andy Pettitte which recounts a specific discussion of HGH between the two men.

Hey skinny.

Hey skinny.

“Andy misremembers,” the dictionary-less Clemens repeated again this morning on Mike & Mike.  Of course he does, Roger.

Many have speculated that Clemens initially denied using performance-enhancing drugs because he was obsessed with his legacy, with the imprint he will leave on the game of baseball. He couldn’t bear to end up like Mark McGwire – banished from the Hall of Fame and cast out from the annals of baseball history. McGwire famously didn’t want to talk about the past – that’s certainly not Roger’s problem. The past is exactly what he wants to talk about. He wants everyone to talk about it, in fact – his 7 Cy Young awards, his 2 world championships, his 11 All-Star selections. Clemens wants desperately to be in the “best pitcher of all time” discussion, and he knows there’s no chance of that if he admits to steroid use. 

It’s too late now, but maybe there was a chance at one time. It’s slowly coming out that almost all of the best players from the last two decades have at least been linked to steroid use. Arguably the two greatest right-handed hitters of all time, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez: steroids. The home run king, Barry Bonds: steroids. And Clemens, the greatest pitcher who ever lived: steroids. Is it really cheating if almost everyone is doing it? Perhaps in twenty years, had all these men simply admitted their mistakes, history would have looked back fondly upon them.

Look at the players who have already admitted it – guys like Jason Giambi, McGwire, and Pettitte. America has already forgiven them. Giambi’s making $5 million a year right now with the A’s! But Clemens couldn’t live with “forgive and forget.” He isn’t sorry for anything and he’ll be damned if he’s going to be forgotten. 

But in the end, he has no choice. Not because he cheated, but because he lied. Ultimately, Roger Clemens’ worst nightmare is going to come true. 

History is going to misremember him.


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