Of all the things that I hate about this lamentable Roger Clemens saga – and there are plenty of those – the admittedly long-shot notion that he might, in fact, be innocent is easily atop the list.
With news of a six-count federal indictment for perjury released yesterday, the peril that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner faces is now front and center once again. The evidence that has already made its way to the mainstream media is daunting indeed, but we’re still left with the realization that he’s got to be presumed innocent.
If he were to somehow be exonerated – proving a negative is way tougher than the other way around – it’s difficult to even conjure up what the landscape would look like at that point. I guess I’ll have to set that hypothetical aside; suffice it to say, I hope that he’s innocent, despite the fact I’ve never been a Roger Clemens fan. I’ll explain.
I hope he’s innocent because I don’t like the idea of people being hauled through the legal system and threatened with professional and personal annihilation for doing what most of us would do instinctively if confronted with a similar situation. Similar in terms of being accused of doing something that isn’t even illegal but nonetheless you’d rather not have the whole world know about your having done it. I understand that the same broad swath that I’ve included might have chosen a different strategy when the prospect of lying to Congress can bring legal sanctions.
I am aware I’ve overreached a bit in lumping in so many millions of my fellow citizens in with The Rocket on this one, but I just don’t like the idea of citizens being forced to incriminate themselves. Make no mistake about it: once he was hauled in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (translated that means the House Committee for Grandstanding and Self-Aggrandizement), his options all looked pretty pukey.
Taking the Fifth – or even something like Mark McGwire’s wretched hybrid of “I’m not here to talk about the past,” clearly wasn’t much of an option. The presumption of guilt seems nearly as overwhelming there as it would be with an outright admission, though the latter course has its obvious and well-documented attractions.
Ironically, several of the players who have chosen that path have seemingly done pretty well with it; most prominently, that would include Andy Pettitte. And its Pettitte’s testimony to congressional investigators that Clemens had confided to him that he had used HGH that shakes me up the most, because Pettitte was a friend and teammate of Clemens.
Back in 2008 when this all began, I did a blog early on that was a parody of the great Jack Nicholson/Tom Cruise scene in the 1992 hit film “A Few Good Men.” At the time I envisioned real parallels between Clemens and the fictional Col. Nathan R. Jessep, and I have seen nothing in the intervening two years-plus to shake that notion.
(I know this is going to sound a little paranoid, but I added the link to that February 2008 blog just below, and the CIA apparently redacted the link so that you can't see it with the naked eye. So if you click with your mouse on the line directly below this odd disclaimer, you should get to that earlier blog. I don't exactly know why the CIA would do this, but I am flattered by the attention.)
Of course, that presupposes that Clemens is lying about steroid of HGH use. If it turns out to be otherwise, I’ll be way down the list of a rather staggering array of people who owe him an apology.
Congress, on the other hand, in their way-less-than-infinite wisdom, would be much closer to the top. As you might have expected, I don’t much care for the idea of citizens who haven’t committed any crime being pummeled by Congress for lying to them about it. And I cringe at tens of millions of tax dollars being casually tossed away as Congress investigates something it has no business being involved in in the first place.
Still, it’s hard not to take notice of the irony of somebody maybe going to jail for lying to Congress when there doesn’t seem to be any penalty at all when the fibbing goes in the other direction on a much grander scale.