Of all the players whose careers have been tarnished by involvement in steroids over the past decade, Roger Clemens may be the one whose star has fallen the farthest.
This view is enhanced by Clemens’ pending federal perjury indictment for allegedly lying to Congress during hearings in February 2008. Clemens contradicted the testimony of former trainer Brian McNamee in the hearings; apparently the feds have decided who was telling the truth.
For much of the ’mid-80s and through the ’90s, Clemens was an elite hurler, the majority of service coming with the Boston Red Sox. While Red Sox fans still have headaches thinking of him winning championships for the hated rival New York Yankees later in his career, Clemens was trumpeted by media and those around him as an incredibly hard worker. The thought he could eventually be lumped in with Sosa-McGwire-Bonds allegations and admissions seemed ludicrous.
Yet, here we are.
It could be argued that Alex Rodriguez perhaps has the most to lose in the steroid scandals having just hit his 600th home run with still a shot of ultimately passing Barry Bonds. However, A-Rod saw him image rehabilitated to some degree by the Yankees’ World Series triumph last year and the simple fact he has years to play to make people forgive and forget.
Clemens no longer has that opportunity. Perhaps the upside of the indictment is it might be one of the closing chapters of the infamously tabbed Steroid Era.
There is at least anecdotal evidence that Major League Baseball’s more stringent drug testing procedures are having an effect. Superhuman sluggers with otherworldly metamorphoses from stick figure to human tanks are noticeably down. So, too, are home run numbers, perhaps the easiest metric to use. Toronto’s Jose Bautista currently leads the majors with 37 home runs – not exactly threatening Bonds’ single season record of 73 dingers in 2001. In fact, three of the last four home run champs are Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and St. Louis’ Albert Pujols (who is also an outspoken Christian), and neither has – cross your fingers – had a whiff of steroid suspicions.
Clemens' fall from grace is tremendous. Hopefully, there won’t be any more to follow.