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The Tragedy of Roger Clemens: A Liar Always Whiffs

Aug 20, 2010 – 10:17 AM
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Jay Mariotti

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Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens

It was arrogance that doomed Roger Clemens, raw defiance feeding a blind and reckless narcissism. He thought he could reach back and throw one more heater, bullying an informant named Brian McNamee with the same attack-dog force that led to 354 victories and seven Cy Young Awards in 23 major-league seasons. He was The Rocket, after all, and in his mind, he could discredit his former trainer to anybody who would listen, then venture to Capitol Hill, schmooze Congressional investigators with a few autographs and photos, take an oath and tell a House committee, "Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH."

What he didn't understand was a basic tenet of life.

No one stares down and strikes out the truth, not even a pitcher who has fanned 4,672 batters.

Because Clemens chose to fight the law, the dirty syringes and the sworn testimony of credible witnesses -- including close friend Andy Pettitte -- instead of coming clean with honesty, his legacy in baseball is ruined. Once arguably the greatest power pitcher ever, he now likely faces 15 to 21 months in prison after a federal grand jury slapped him with a six-count indictment on perjury charges. Of all the devastation and stench left by The Steroids Era, the idea of Clemens receiving up to a 30-year prison sentence and $1.5 million fine represents the most pathetic and stunning fallout yet. Like Barry Bonds, the greatest power hitter ever, he chose to aggressively fight the accusations rather than accept the consequences and move on. It was one thing to battle McNamee in a public forum such as "60 Minutes." It was quite another to stand before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on a solo mission of his own volition, and tell a highly suspicious group of men and women that he somehow was juice-free at a time of widespread performance-enhancing binging in the sport.
Filed under: MLB, Sports