For Clemens, voters may have final say
I know. I know. According to a jury in a federal courthouse in Washington D.C, where Roger Clemens testified four years ago on Capitol Hill as one of the designated faces of baseball's Steroid Era, he was found not guilty on one count of obstructing Congress, two counts of perjury and three counts of making false statements.
Yeah, well. Clemens was guilty of SOMETHING, which is why he won't get my Hall of Fame vote any time soon.
He'll probably never get it, but we'll see.
Not only that, when Clemens becomes eligible for Cooperstown at the end of this year, he won't get the required 75 percent of the vote in general from voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America for entry into the Hall of Fame on his first try.
In fact, Clemens won't make Cooperstown, period -- well, not unless he gives himself at least a chance of reaching its city limits by doing something that he'll never do.
He needs to become Mark McGwire.
Like Clemens, McGwire once was on Capitol Hill as a designated face of PEDs in the game, but unlike Clemens, McGwire was slick enough not to give the hint of perjuring himself.
Actually, "slick" isn't the word to describe McGwire that day in 2005, when he looked as if he had swallowed a resin bag. With voice quivering, he kept answering questions with his mantra of "I'm not going to go into the past or talk about my past."
Clumsy, but effective.
Better yet, McGwire confessed two years ago that water is wet, Tuesday follows Monday and that he actually did use PEDs along his way to slamming many of his 583 career home runs.
Such truth from McGwire's lips allowed him to join his old St. Louis Cardinals team as hitting coach, and he has flourished in that role during his two-plus seasons.
The Cardinals led the National League in runs scored last year before winning the World Series. Plus, heading into Tuesday's action, they led the NL in batting average, home runs, RBIs, hits and total bases, and they were tied with the Colorado Rockies in runs scored.
Much of that success for St. Louis hitters goes back to McGwire, and it began with his confession -- something that Clemens likely won't consider as a personal option for a slew of reasons.
He just whipped the feds, for instance.
Al Capone didn't do it. Neither did Michael Vick -- along with nearly 100 percent of others who were tried and convicted through the decades after the U.S. government brought cases against them.
This also is William Roger Clemens, who ranked among the most strong-willed players in the history of the game. That helped him to 354 victories and a record seven Cy Young Awards over 24 seasons.
It's just that we'll never know how much PEDs helped Clemens, too, because he isn't telling.
In contrast, the Mitchell Report told much.
The Mitchell Report was baseball's exhaustive investigation into the history of PEDs in the game. When the findings were released in December 2007, Clemens' name was everywhere. According to the findings, he was a prominent user in 1998, 2000 and 2001. He vehemently denied the charges, but there was testimony and evidence from Brian McNamee, his former trainer who also was a star witness for the feds.
McNamee told both the Mitchell Report and the feds that he injected Clemens with PEDs. That said, some of the jury members in the feds' case either didn't believe McNamee after his credibility was damaged on cross examination by the defense, or they had issues with the U.S. government spending an estimated $10.5 million on the case.
In addition, there was that matter of former Clemens' teammate Andy Pettitte waffling before the jury on whether or not he actually heard Clemens say he had used HGH.
Here's the bottom line: Given all of the PED smoke that was discovered throughout Clemens' world by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and his accomplished group of investigators, you just know there was a PED fire somewhere.
Which brings us to one of the few stipulations for Hall of Fame voters before they fill out their ballot. They must consider the "character" and the integrity" of the candidates. Given that, those who participated in baseball's Steroid Era -- in any way -- don't qualify for Cooperstown, not according to my interpretations of the rules.
Many of my colleagues agree. Despite McGwire's confession and his success as a hitting coach, he still hasn't gotten more than 23.7 percent of the Hall of Fame vote after six tries.
If Palmeiro didn't lose his Hall of Fame chance after denying he used PEDs while wagging his finger in the face of Congressmen as he sat a few feet away from McGwire, he did so a few months later.
That's when Palmeiro tested positive for Stanozolol, one of the most potent steroids around. He got 11 percent of the Hall of Fame vote during his first try two years ago, and 12.6 percent this last time.
Sammy Sosa joined McGwire and Palmeiro in 2005 on Capitol Hill, and when Sosa was questioned about his possible PED use, he consistently stumbled with his English -- despite speaking it well for most of his 18 seasons in the Major Leagues.
None of this is good for Sosa when it comes to "character" and "integrity," and he'll join Clemens as a first-time candidate on the upcoming Hall of Fame ballot.
So will Barry Bonds, who sort of beat the feds.
After a seven-year investigation by the feds regarding Bonds' PED testimony to a grand jury in 2003, Bonds was convicted only on obstruction of justice. The jury was deadlocked on three perjury charges, but he was sentenced to a month of house arrest. With that under appeal, he could escape serving any time at all.
Either way, it won't matter. As is the case with Clemens, Palmeiro and Sosa, the PED smoke is thick around Bonds. Then again, he has said throughout his ordeal that he didn't "knowingly" use steroids.
Clemens hasn't even said that.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.