Anybody really care about Rocket?
Roger Clemens is a free man, but his legacy will likely remain stained forever
Roger Clemens was acquitted of perjury on Monday, stemming from his testimony before Congress in 2008 that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs. We asked our experts to weigh in on the Clemens verdict in today's Triple Play.
1. Should baseball fans care about the Clemens verdict?
Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand), ESPN New York: You hear a lot that the government wasted money. Well, that is sort of true, but this was not about steroids. This was about lying under oath. The government thought they could prove Clemens did that. If the government doesn't pursue such cases, then people may take the oath less seriously. So as a citizen, fans should care. As fans, I don't think they necessarily have to.
Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley), Crashburn Alley: No. The extent to which fans should care about this issue is that it is a completely frivolous dog and pony show, wasting taxpayer money and distracting people from doing otherwise important jobs. There are zero reasons why the phrase "Clemens verdict" should have ever entered our vernacular.
Evan Brunell (@evanbrunell), Fire Brand of the AL: Baseball fans absolutely should care about the verdict, even though everyone's sick of the steroids angle. There needs to be a sense of accountability and justice in the game. Whether a career minor leaguer or surefire Hall of Famer, you must be responsible for your actions on and off the field. The verdict also matters for Clemens' Hall of Fame candidacy -- had he been convicted, it would have destroyed his chances of getting into Cooperstown. Now, though, the waters are murky./p>
2. Were you surprised by the verdict?
Marchand: I wasn't really. I wasn't at the trial so I didn't hear everything, but from reading about what went on, the government's case didn't seem that strong. From DNA in a beer can to Andy Pettitte misremembering, it didn't seem as if the prosecution had a very tight presentation.
Baer: Yes, because my faith in humanity has fallen that far. That this was even an issue, and that it came at the expense of taxpayers, sapped any and all hope I had for logic and reason to prevail. Yet it still happened, somehow, like Juan Pierre safely taking an extra base.
Brunell: I was not surprised by the verdict because it appeared as if the government's case was flimsy. Couple that with a trial so long that it literally put jurors to sleep and a less-than-credible witness in Brian McNamee -- it was a long shot to begin with. Don't forget, Barry Bonds skated away from his own perjury accusations in a mistrial, proving perjury is very difficult to do. And with the lack of a true smoking gun, the outcome wasn't a shock. If anything, it was a surprise the government pressed forward with such an iffy case.
3. What do you think Clemens' legacy should be?
Marchand: He is one of the great pitchers of all time. He played in a time when a lot of pitchers and hitters used performance-enhancing drugs. In my opinion, he probably did as well. I felt the Mitchell report was unfair to name players because it wasn't really a thorough investigation. They weren't trying to get all the names. They had some names and threw them out there. Clemens pitched in a tainted era. He is still an all-time great, but he is just from an era where greatness is hard to truly define because we will never know what was real.
Baer: He should be enshrined in Cooperstown on the first ballot, described as one of the best pitchers to ever play the game, and respected by all who had the privilege to watch him compete. It is a shame that some people will intentionally tarnish their memories of a once-in-a-generation pitcher, and a hitter as well (Barry Bonds).
Brunell: Tim Keown nailed it when he said the takeaway from the case would be that the government couldn't do its job, not that Clemens was innocent. And now, it's likely we'll never know. Clemens' legacy is that much more clear when you look at the state of the game today without steroids. A pitcher dominating in his 40s, never mind his late 30s, to the level Clemens did is unthinkable in today's game. His legacy should end up similar to Bonds' -- both were Hall of Famers before taking steroids, but ego and desperation to be the greatest drove them a step too far.