Roger Clemens won the biggest battle of his life yesterday and it didn’t come on the pitcher’s mound. Clemens, on trial after being accused of lying to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs during the latter part of his career.
The verdict was announced and Clemens was acquitted on all counts on the charges filed against him.
“It’s good for the game of baseball, because I think we’re trying to move on from all the stuff we went through the last 10 years, the PEDs, and I think we can,” - New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before a game vs. the Atlanta Braves in New York on Monday night.
Clemens former teammate, shortstop Derek Jeter, expressed similar sentiments.
“I’m happy for him, I think it’s good for baseball that it’s over with. We can stop talking about it.”
This case was lengthy, but the deliberations were relatively brief. Jurors returned their verdict after less than 10 hours over several days. The outcome ended a 10-week trial that capped the government’s investigation of the pitcher known as “The Rocket” for the fastball that he retained into his 40s. He won seven Cy Young Awards, emblematic of the league’s best pitcher each year in a 24-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Astros.
The verdict was the latest blow to the government’s legal pursuit of athletes accused of illicit drug use.
A seven-year investigation into home run king Barry Bonds yielded a guilty verdict on only one count of obstruction of justice in a San Francisco court last year, with the jury deadlocked on whether Bonds lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter told USA TODAY Sports: “The government came after our two biggest stars and they got nothing, it was a witch hunt. They got nothing on this sport. So leave us alone, please.”
Now that Roger Clemens’ court room battle has ended, he is now awaiting the court of public opinion to decide if he’ll be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame next year, his first year of eligibility. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY have a terrific article that not only handicaps Clemens’ Hall of Fame chances but it also features quotes from various baseball writers who have HOF votes and whether or not they’ll choose to vote for him.
“The verdict will not change my vote,” said Boston Globe baseball columnist Nick Cafardo, who covered Clemens throughout his career with the Boston Red Sox. “I always felt Roger Clemens was a Hall of Fame pitcher and still do.”
Said Yahoo baseball columnist Tim Brown: “The jury decision didn’t change my opinion either way. The facts of the case certainly led me to the opinion that Roger Clemens did in fact use performance-enhancing drugs. I won’t vote for anyone that I believe enhanced his career by cheating. I won’t vote for Clemens.”
Back in August of 2010, when Clemens’ name first came up in association with PEDs, I wrote that I was in denial and didn’t really know what to think about Clemens or what was happening though out the rest of baseball. Now, with one of my favorite pitchers – and perhaps the greatest of my generation – being put on trial by the government and acquitted, he still may not ever be put in Cooperstown.
Ten years ago, Clemens place in Cooperstown was a sure thing and now it’s anything but sure. Now, Clemens must await his fate on next years ballot.