9:50 pm Jun. 18, 2012
Roger Clemens, one of baseball's greatest pitchers ever, was acquitted of all charges in a perjury case against him on Monday.
The case was something of a disaster for the prosecution. A four-year process by the U.S. attorney's office to charge and try him—twice, after the first trial ended in mistrial due to prosecutor error—was based upon sworn statements Clemens had made to Congress about never having used steroids or human-growth hormone.
The criminal acquittal keeps Clemens out of prison. But it won't do much for his reputation.
His name is about to go on the Hall of Fame ballot, and in all likelihood he'll get nowhere near the 75 percent of Baseball Writers Association of America votes required for entry. After all, Jeff Bagwell hasn't managed the feat, and the evidence against him amounts to the fact that he was a muscular guy who hit a lot of home runs during the steroid era.
Clemens, meanwhile, was in the Mitchell Report.
Baseball is going to have to figure out something larger, of course. Cooperstown is going to move forward, it appears, without Clemens, the game's greatest pitcher, or Barry Bonds, the game's greatest hitter. They'll join Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the game's greatest hitters, and Pete Rose, baseball's career hits leader, in a special, weird sort of exile.
Clemens is probably doomed to reside in that limbo, stuck because the baseball writers think he cheated, their suspicions about his superhuman performance over an improbably long period of time compounded by his personal nastiness.
He threw that shard of bat at Mike Piazza during the 2000 World Series because he was in the throes of 'roid rage or because he's a natural thug. Either way, he's not getting any sympathy votes.
So he's not going to jail. And in all likelihood he's not going to Cooperstown either.