The Strikeout King… of denial?

UPDATE: Video of Roger’s News Conference
SOUND: NY Times’ Edited Audio of Clemens-McNamee Phone Call
LINK: The Roger Clemens Foundation

By most accounts, Roger Clemens’ interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday cast more doubt over his response to baseball’s infamous Mitchell Report. Roger says he never took steroids and that his former trainer Brian McNamee lied. Now, Roger’s suing McNamee for defamation of character. But it’s Roger’s word versus McNamee’s and, apparently, most Houstonians aren’t convinced Roger is being turthful. Here are some of the reasons why:

“Clemens swallowed a lot during the interview and drank a lot of water.”
“His eyes looked down a lot and he seemed nervous.”
“He’s guilty by association with Andy Pettite.” (Pettite admitted McNamee injected him with Human Growth Hormone)

That last one is tough to reckon with considering Andy and Roger are so close. But before I go on, let me say I don’t think steroids make the athlete. Steroids may make the superstar — drugs beef-up the already talented to the point their skills are untouchable. But you can’t take some average joe, feed him needles, and expect him to hit a major league fastball out of the park. A professional athlete on steroids, or some other banned substance, is not any less of an athlete. He’s just a cheater.

As a transplanted Red Sox fan in college I quickly learned what the city of Boston hated about Roger “Raw-jah” Clemens. In the fans’ eyes, Roger did the bare minimum his last four seasons with Boston — posting a record of 40-39 — only to leave and win back-to-back Cy Young awards with the Toronto Blue Jays. Fans saw that as a slap in the face — winning more games his first two seasons with Toronto than his last four seasons with Boston. It’s for that reason I’ve always believed Roger could win at will. That would make him a jerk at most, but not a cheat. Unless you believe Brian McNamee… and I’m not sure I do.

If Roger had something to hide, if there was a smoking gun out there somewhere, why gamble on the defamataion lawsuit? To win the case, KPRC Local 2 Legal Analyst Brian Wice says, Roger has to prove that McNamee not only lied, but knew he was lying. And that’s really tough to do. Wice says Roger’s legal strategy is confusing, giving McNamee’s lawyers the chance to put Roger under oath. If and when that happens remains to be seen. But Roger will go under oath if he decides to testify before Congress next week. And that’s where some of our answers could be. Will Roger stick to his story? Change his story? Take the 5th?

There are only two possiblities: Roger’s lying or he isn’t. And until we know for sure, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Just look at Rookie Roger — 6-foot 4-inches, 205 pounds at 23 years old. Fast forward to a 31 year-old Roger at 220 pounds — hardly enough weight to make you scream “STEROIDS!” Even at 230 pounds during the 2000 season with The New York Yankees, Roger seemed a little bigger, but not ‘roided up and stacked, just heavier.

(images from 1995 & 2000 respectively)

I just don’t see the transformation between Rookie Roger and Veteran Roger, as I saw with Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire. Maybe I’m blind, or it’s different for hitters, but according to a 2003 article in the San Francisco Chronicle bonds emerged 15 years after his rookie season, 45lbs. heavier than he entered the league! A Washington Post article reports McGwire’s rookie weight to be approximately 30 to 40 pounds lighter than at the end of his career. I don’t think Roger falls into that category.

And on the point of athletes and lying: Let’s hope Roger Clemens is no Pete Rose. I’d be shocked to find Clemens publicly denying steroids now, filing an expensive defamation suit against his former trainer, only to admit years later he knowingly took illegal drugs.

If you remember, Rose didn’t put up this Clemens-kind-of-fight against gambling charges. He publicly denied he bet on baseball, but never went under oath to talk about it, at least not from what I’ve found. Ultimately, Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball and that was that — no wrongdoing admitted. Not until his book release 15 years later, when Rose finally came clean.

READ: Pete Rose slams players who use steroids on

Love him or hate him, Roger is a hard-worker, a fighter, and a winner. Let’s just hope he’s not a cheater… and that his lawyers know what they’re doing.


One Response

  1. I think he is innocent. I feel bad for him on how he and his family are being treated in the media.

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