Is Anyone Else Glad Roger Clemens Got Let Off The Hook?
When he woke up yesterday, Clemens’s future was extremely uncertain. He was on trial in Washington, D.C. facing perjury charges for allegedly lying to Congress back in 2008 about not using steroids or performance-enhancing drugs during his storied Major League Baseball career. Despite winning 354 games as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros, Clemens was believed to be a long shot for the MLB Hall of Fame by many, who saw the perjury trial as a chance for the federal government to prove that his stats were tainted by his use of steroids or HGH. And his image was sure to be dragged through the mud after ESPN showed him entering and exiting the courtroom everyday for the next few weeks. So, yeah. Yesterday morning, Clemens didn’t exactly have much going for him.
Today? Well, today is a completely different story. That’s because due to basically what amounts to a clerical error, Roger Clemens is off the hook after the judge in the case had to declare a mistrial when a piece of evidence that was supposed to be deleted from a video that was played for jurors wasn’t removed. That tainted the jury in the judge’s eyes and forced him to declare a mistrial just two days after opening statements were made by both sides. There will be a hearing in September to decide whether Clemens will have to face a new trial—or whether the charges that were brought up against him will be thrown out altogether.
The consensus seems to be that this whole trial was a waste of time in the first place—and that the judge will ultimately decide to throw out the charges in September. And aside from just wasting time, the government was also planning on spending thousands of dollars on a trial that ultimately would do little to prove or disprove that Clemens was using drugs. But, the question has to be asked: Was Clemens let off the hook a little too easily?
The answer is tricky, because we’d have to say that it’s yes…and no. Clemens is getting off easy here because he’s not being forced to face any consequences for allegedly lying to the government about his alleged steroid use. If it’s found that Clemens did use steroids or HGH and he’s never forced to go to trial again, the government is left with egg on its’ face—and it’s unlikely that they’ll get involved in the politics of professional baseball in the future after seeing what happened with Clemens as well as Barry Bonds. It also sends a terrible message to other baseball players, both old and young, about steroids and HGH and does little to stop future generations from using when they see what happened to guys like Clemens and Bonds.
However, what exactly were we going to gain from this trial? Was the government going to somehow force Clemens to admit to using steroids? Were they going to prove without a shadow of a doubt that his stats were tainted? Were they going to solve baseball’s steroids problem through this case? No, no, and—you guessed it—no! If anything, they might have forced Clemens to serve a short prison sentence and made others think twice before taking the stand and lying under oath. But it’s unlikely that they would have done anything to definitively prove that Clemens did anything wrong other than commit perjury.
So while Clemens did get off pretty easy here, I can’t say that I’m particularly broken up about it. The entire trial seemed like a waste from the beginning and, just two days into it, I was already tired of it interrupting my regularly-scheduled SportsCenter experience. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that I’m glad it ended the way it did. And I’ll also say that, while he got off easy in terms of the trial, Clemens lost the battle with the federal government in the court of public perception. He’ll never get the same amount of respect as he once did and he’ll never be looked at in legendary terms like he used to.
Basically, this entire ordeal was one big mess that made both Roger Clemens and the federal government look absolutely ridiculous. So while Clemens must feel pretty lucky today, I have to admit that I do, too. Because if I had to sit through much more of this trial, I’m not sure what I would have done.
Now let’s just hope the judge feels the same way in September.