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Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty.

They are the words a foreman spoke on Monday that ended the very public trial of Roger Clemens. The man who was seen by many as the greatest starting pitcher of his generation had been accused of lying under oath to congress with regards to having taken performance enhancing drugs.

It was just another high-profile case that the American government came up short on. They thought Clemens would be the jewel in their crown but instead deciding to have the key witness who has taken apart from not only the defence lawyers but also by his estranged wife was not a great case. Also the other key witness admitting that he could only be ’50/50′ that the admission of taking performance enhancing drugs by Clemens was an accurate recollection of what happened wasn’t a good sign. Basically the prosecution screwed up and was never in a position to win the case.

The legacy of the man known as ‘The Rocket‘ though wasn’t what was on trial. What was on trial was whether he would be one of the most high-profile inmates in American jails. His legacy that he is fighting so hard to restore will come down to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America as they are the people who get to vote on inductees to the baseball Hall of Fame and this is what is really important to Clemens.

But as commentator after commentator said during the past 48 hours – the law of the land and a jury of his peers isn’t important, they are the important ones and they and they only will decide whether he took drugs or not. It is a strange dynamic that the law of the land is immaterial when it comes to this but such is life.

Already some voters have said that they will not vote for Clemens ever because they know that he did drugs. I love the fact that these writers can know this. Not have suspicions of but they know. Those who don’t vote for him because they have suspicions you can at least see the reasoning but no-one can honestly say that they know he has done such a thing. They can say they believe he did or that they have seen enough evidence for them to strongly believe that he did but to know well that is just crazy. If they know then why weren’t they called by the prosecution to be a witness in the criminal trial? Oh wait it’s because they actually know nothing. Yes I’m looking in your direction Bill Plaschke of the LA Times.

Do I believe that he took performance enhancing drugs during his career? I honestly don’t know. He could easily have done and his career arc was shall we say ‘interesting’ and in an era when drugs were rife within sport in North America but there are other similar career arcs with no suspicions of drugs – for example Kurt Warner.

I do though believe in the age-old adage of you are innocent until you have been proven guilty. He has never been found guilty of having used performance enhancing drugs. Not only that he has been to court where a jury found him not guilty of lying to congress on the subject. For me that is good enough. If I was a voter I’d vote him in because there is little doubt that his numbers belong in the Hall of Fame and until you have that smoking gun then you have nothing.

I think he gets in but not for many years as the whole steroid era of baseball gets shunned by voters who have suspicions of every player in that era. Even guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will not get votes when they are eligible for the Hall of Fame because some voters quite simply refuse to vote for anyone in case they ever get linked to drugs. Suspicion isn’t even needed. It is another reason why the BBWAA are not the right people to be custodians for the Hall of Fame but that is a story for another day.

For today Roger Clemens walks as a free man without a legal stain on his character. However as soon as an accusation is made many people make up their minds and for many of those this court case will not change a thing and that to me is a sad indictment of society these days.

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One Comment

  1. Neil H Neil H

    Miscarriages of justice are a two way street…

    Not for one second suggesting this was a case that Federal prosecutors ever should have prosecuted but…

    Isn’t it amazing that for 90 years baseball players got better, hit their peak, then began to fade as they aged… and then for one glorious 20 year period, baseball players defied the aging process and had second peaks.. getting better as they aged, even well into their 40’s… and remarkably as they were aging, and as they were performing better it was all simply a case of “better workouts”, “more gym time”…

    And then, miraculously, baseball brings in realistic drug testing, and all these miracle gains suddenly disappear, despite no one losing the key to better workouts, or more gym time, aging players suddenly have started – well aging again!

    You might call that a sad indictment of society, but in this case, I think my cynicism is well grounded in reality.

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