Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In Defense of Roger Clemens

Something to consider while Shawne Merriman and Rodney Harrison sit on their couches today, watching our great national disgrace:

Roger Clemens might have injected steroids into Brian McNamee’s penis, and allowed the trainer to make love to him in order to receive the hormones anally. Roger Clemens might have lathered himself with the cream before every start and bathed in the clear after each game. Roger Clemens might have personally spiked the team’s Gatorade cooler with HGH before every game of the 2000 World Series.

We don’t know what Roger Clemens did or did not do today anymore than we did the week before the Mitchell Report came out, or in 1998 while Bud Selig was stuffing his cheeks fat with the cash generated by the McGwire/Sosa home run chase, or anymore than we will in 2023 when the World Series is played between angry man-eating robots and a team full of clones created from Christy Matthewson’s skeleton.

Every piece of evidence against Clemens is circumstantial, and grounded in a maze of indecipherable he-said/he-said nonsense. To judge Clemens based on the Mitchell report is an epic fallacy, a foolish game being played by headline-hungry columnists and a lynch mob of fans who have always hated Clemens anyway.

The Mitchell Report is a flawed, incomprehensive, possibly biased document that holds no authority. The only fair way to treat the information contained therein is to ignore it. Ignore it all. Pretend it never happened.

While the public’s apathy toward the steroids issue is apparent in box office revenue and television ratings, the media continues to build a gilded controversy, largely because drugs are an easy issue about which to screech from a soapbox. The din has grown so loud and intense, that our only choice is to tune it all out. Unless there is hard evidence proving a player has taken steroids (and at this point, I’m willing to accept only positive tests, and perhaps a Game of Shadows-like web of proof), everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Of course we all know that Mark McGwire probably took steroids. He essentially damned himself on national television. But it shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame, because there is no proof. A player not stepping forward to defend themselves, either in front of investigators or for Mitchell’s inquisition, is not an admission of guilt.

We don’t know the scope of the problem, or if there even is a problem, anymore than we did before Mitchell released his findings. For God’s sake, we still don’t even know what effects steroids and especially HGH have on baseball performance. It’s time to end this charade, with the understanding that any numbers and records achieved in the last 15 years happened in a certain era, under certain offense-friendly circumstances, like the anti-Dead Ball era.

Roger Clemens’ legacy is not tainted. Let him be. And hell, I don’t even like the guy.