Everyone I know knows how much of a Yankee fan I am. So consequently, I’ve heard the same version of this question a million times: “Do you think Clemens did it?”
I always sort of shrug and say I don’t know, which shocks people. Ask me about the Yankees recent drafts and I talk for 4 hours. Ask me about steroids in general, and I’ll launch into a heated tirade.
But Clemens? Eh, what difference does it make?
What I really think is this: Roger Clemens at some point tried substances that are currently labeled as PEDs. But he cannot come out and say that because there is no gray area to the media anymore. If a player is in the same room as HGH, it is the same as Barry Bonds’ BALCO “Ivan Drago”-like regiment.
This is the Clemens admission I think he would/should/could make in a more educated world:
“I have never tried to cheat the game of baseball. In the 80’s and early 90’s, I used my natural talent to accomplish what I did in baseball. However, after leaving the Red Sox, it became apparent that if I was to have any longevity in the game, I would have to get myself in better physical condition. So I began working out – a lot. I got myself in the best shape I’d ever been in. The results were immediate, as I won 2 Cy Youngs in Toronto.
I worked with a trainer and took everything I could to help me stay in the best shape possible. Pain killers, vitamins, supplements. I am addicted to winning and success. Staying in shape led to success, so that was my top priority.
At the time, everyone in baseball was trying everything possible to improve themselves. I took whatever my trainer told me would get me in the best shape. Some of what I did may be ethically questionable. I was naive to the true nature of a lot of what I put in my body.
Looking back, I am ashamed and disappointed that I was not more cautious. I truly believe that all of my hard work has been the real cornerstone of my success and not some of the supplements that I have tried. I apologize to anyone who is offended by my transgressions or thinks I have cheated and taken a short cut to success. I want to reiterate that there are no short cuts to athletic success. There is no magic pill. I hope that future generations of athletes will heed my warning and work hard while also keeping in mind the health and ethical ramifications of their actions.”
See, now wouldn’t that be a perfectly reasonable (and in my mind honorable) confession? Well, if Clemens ever said it, he would immediately be labeled a cheater and reviled. Because people are very stupid.
So instead it makes more sense for Clemens to simply deny. Sure, his name will always be tarnished, but McNamee is a man with a checkered past and reputation. As long as Clemens denies, he can never be proven wrong. And no matter what people think, he’ll probably be able to create enough of a reasonable doubt in people’s mind to eventually gain respect again.
So does this mean I think Clemens is guilty? Well, I don’t know. But does it really matter either way?