There was no bigger "casualty" in George Mitchell's steroid report that was released this past week to MLB than Roger Clemens. There had been whispers for years that he was on the juice, but now it has been put in a report for all the world to see. And it could just be the tip of the iceberg.
Clemens was a sure-bet first-ballot Hall of Famer. His numbers are very well known: 354 wins, 7 Cy Young Awards, two World Series rings. He was arguably the pitcher of his generation.
And now it appears that his chances for enshrinement to Cooperstown may have died with that report being released.
His career now appears to be finished. I can't imagine any team taking a chance on him now. He's 45, and his body was breaking down late last September, and he threw just two postseason innings for the Yankees. They certainly don't want to be associated with him any more.
Clemens issued a statement through his lawyer on Thursday that he never took steroids, and that he was "slandered." If Clemens was indeed "slandered" and wants to get his reputation back, he has only one option: lawsuits, against MLB, George Mitchell and his commission, and Brian McNamee, the personal trainer who rolled over on him to Mitchell. McNamee had everything to gain by coming clean about Clemens, and absolutely nothing to gian by lying about him to the investigators. (In fact. NcNamee, as well as Kirk Radomski, could face more jail time if in fact it is proven they lied to the Mitchell investigators.)
As the venerable Mr. Mitchell said after the report was released, Clemens had every opportunity to state his case to his investigators, but declined. If Clemens is going the lawsuit route, he better damn well be 100% clean and have nothing to hide. If he brings a case, those people he's suing will bring everything out in open court. EVERYTHING about Clemens and his past steroid use.
I find it interesting that not one person implicated in either Jose Canseco's book, "Juiced," and the terrific "Game of Shadows" book has gone after the authors for slander in terms of steroid use. I remember right after Canseco's book came out, people like Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez was talking about going after him in court. Funny that none of them have.
And with Clemens' involvement in all of this, one man seems to have been vindicated: Dan Duquette. In 1996, he was supposed to have said that Clemens was in "the twilight of his career" at 34, as his numbers the previous four years had declined dramatically. With all of this, Clemens departure is now proving to be one of the best things to have happened to the Sox in recent memory. It was a disaster in the short run, but the next winter it spurred Duquette to trade for Pedro Martinez. He would not have made that deal if Clemens had resigned. The Pedro trade was the move that set the wheels in motion for the incredible Red Sox world championship seven years later.
It will be interesting to see how the Yankee fans will react to the allegations against Clemens and Andy Pettitte. I'm sure there will be sympathy for Pettitte, as he was always regarded as a "true Yankee", as he was brought up by the club and was a part of their four recent championships. But at some point, Pettitte will have to make some kind of "apology" to the Yankee fans in order for him to be forgiven by them. I'm sure if he's sincere about it, they will take him back.
As for Clemens, I'm sure they will toss him under the bus. In some ways they already have.
John Harper, in Friday's Daily News, has already used the term I've used for years about Clemens: "carpetbagger." I also read in the same paper one Yankee fans wrote that he was "from Boston anyway." Clemens has had tons of vitriol thrown his way from Red Sox Nation over the years, and has been called "traitor" among other colorful names. But I'm sure he's in for a LOT of hate from Yankee fans in the near future. I'm sure they'll quickly mention that fact he was really a Red Sock, and was never a "true Yankee." (And the fact he failed to deliver for the team last year after he much ballyhooed won't help his cause.)
If Clemens is going to throw around terms like "slander" when it comes to the Mitchell Report, he better be sure he's got nothing to hide. Right now, he can either yell loudly his innocence, be totally silent, or admit his drug past. He's got too big an ego to come clean (see Bonds, Barry), so this could go on for some time. But it will be fascinating to see if he indeed risks everything by going to court over the Mitchell Report.
I guess right now he's got nothing to lose. His legacy's on the line.
If it hasn't already been totally destroyed and rewritten by George Mitchell last Thursday.