Friday, August 20, 2010

Clemens headed to jail instead of the Hall?

I would write about what I expect to happen in the season's final month and a half in terms of playoff scenarios, but I think the possibilities are few and far between. Texas and Minnesota are beginning to run away with the AL West and AL Central, respectively, while the Yankees and Rays should both make the playoffs while battling for the AL East crown. Booooooriiiiiing!

In the NL, the Padres are cruising atop the NL West while the Braves and Phillies battle in the East and the Reds and Cardinals in the Central. The Giants are in contention for the Wild Card as well, but I think Chase Utley's return and superior talent will get the Phillies into the playoffs, whether by winning the division or as the Wild Card. Reds-Cardinals should be interesting down the stretch but with only three games left against each other, it may be hard for St. Louis to gain 3.5 games on a good-looking Reds team with an easy schedule.

So now that I exhausted all I could write about how the playoffs might shape up, it's time to get to baseball's most recent criminal. I know people love to talk about the records Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez have and will put up in the midst of the steroid era and, while Bonds has never admitted using performance-enhancing drugs like A-Rod, neither of them hold a candle to Clemens right now.

Essentially, Clemens requested a congressional hearing in 2008 so that he could lie under oath about never using steroids or HGH. The irony in this is that Clemens could spend almost two years in prison if found guilty of perjury WHEN HE DIDN'T HAVE TO APPEAR IN FRONT OF CONGRESS IN THE FIRST PLACE! How stupid and arrogant can you be?

Everyone knows (or rightfully assumes) that Clemens used performance-enhancers. That doesn't mean he didn't have a great work ethic and train extremely hard in the weight room, but that can only go so far. Combined with steroids and/or HGH, a heavy workout routine produces even more drastic results, results that allowed Clemens to make millions upon millions of dollars when most pitchers' careers would've been over.

Now I ask, was it worth it? Most people would say yes because, let's face it, very few of us get the opportunity to make the kind of money Clemens made by prolonging his career with performance-enhancing drugs. And even if he has to spend 15-21 months in prison, that money will still be there when he gets out.

But was it worth it in terms of Clemens' legacy in baseball? If he is found guilty of perjury, he can kiss the Hall of Fame goodbye. Some players from the steroid era will inevitably make the Hall, but one who perjured himself under oath at a congressional meeting that he himself requested will not be one of them. His talent is unquestionable and without this dark cloud he would be a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer. But that's a lot to remove from the equation.

The sad thing is, there's nothing Clemens can really do at this point to salvage his image or his Hall of Fame credentials. The hole has been dug too deep and his vehement denials in the face of damning evidence presented by former trainer Brian McNamee's side prove that Clemens' arrogance has once again gotten the best of him.

Many people have always disliked Clemens for being a headhunter. Mike Piazza wouldn't disagree, especially after Clemens flung a broken bat in his direction in 2000, just three months after Clemens hit him in the head with a pitch. This turn of events will only do more damage to the public perception of Clemens, and rightfully so.

This situation shows more about the character of Clemens than anything he ever did on the field, good or bad. While players like Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte (a friend of Clemens) have admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs and at least have a modicum of respect from the public for their candid admissions, Clemens does not. And if he's found guilty of perjury, which I think he will be, he will lose whatever backers he still may have at this point. I'm just not sure it matters either way.

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