18 Jun 2012
Roger Clemens has been found not guilty of lying to Congress. Some will say being found not guilty does not mean you have been found innocent. Some will bring up O.J. Simpson being found not guilty of murder. Some will point out that a man is presumed innocent under our judicial system and therefore Clemens is innocent.
Wherever you stand, here’s my problem. Clemens may have done something, he may not have done something. It certainly hasn’t been proven that he took steroids. Yet, I think we can all agree that he won’t get much support if any, when his name comes up on the Hall of Fame ballot next year. And that strikes me as fundamentally unfair.
You can’t keep a guy out of the Hall of Fame because you suspect he did steroids. Take any player from the 1990’s and early 00’s and prove to me that he didn’t do steroids. We simply don’t know. Andy Pettitte hardly profiled as a drug cheat, but he has admitted that he was.
So Clemens will probably live out the rest of his days in a strange limbo. Suspicions will be used to keep him out of the Hall, but those suspicions will never be confirmed. Worse, he will never have a way to clear his name, today was about as close as he will get.
I think instead of trying to play judge and jury we should just all admit that we don’t know what happened. Pick a season, 1987 with its home run explosion seems right to me. Put up an exhibit between the plaques of those who entered the league before that era, or played the majority of their careers before it and those that entered afterwards, or played a majority of their career after it with an explanation of PED’s and a timeline of the major events. Then, vote everyone in or out based on their numbers and nothing more. So, Clemens is in, Bonds is in, Palmeiro is in, Piazza is in, etc.. (I don’t know about McGwire because he truly was a one-dimensional player) If they have admitted to steroid use, note that on the plaque. If they were accused of it, give the details of their conviction or acquittal.
It isn’t elegant, but I think it might be the fairest way to handle it. I suspect that some guys you would never think of as juicers did it with abandon. Until we know for sure who did what and when they did it, how can we judge any one individual, no matter what we think?