As the Roger Clemens trial drags on, a few things become clear: there will be no real winners in this case, only losers. The question is how much each party has to lose.
Clemens is clearly a loser in this case. He may indeed be found “not guilty” of perjury, but not guilty does not mean innocent, it just means the government couldn’t prove its case against the former star pitcher in court.
Does anybody really think Roger Clemens never used PEDs (other than MAYBE Roger Clemens)? His excuses that he purchased HGH for his wife and only had his trainer inject him with Vitamin B12 but never steroids or HGH seems more than a little bit farfetched.
Clemens has also come across poorly in the court of public opinion. He appears more than a little bit arrogant, like he believes he can truly do no wrong and how dare anybody investigate him, the “great Roger Clemens” for anything.
The fact remains Clemens easily could have ended this issue years ago much like his friend and former teammate, Andy Pettitte did: admit he made a mistake by taking PEDs, asking for forgiveness and moving forward with his life. Instead, Clemens had spent time clinging to excuses and denials which ring increasingly hollow in the face of the physical evidence and the testimony of Brian McNamee and many other witnesses.
Baseball is also a loser. Once again, the sordid details of the steroid era are being brought to light. Shady characters like McNamee lurked in baseball clubhouses and training rooms. Many players were cheating the game by juicing while the owners were all too happy to look the other way as long as fans were paying to see players hit more home runs.
Essentially, an entire era of baseball history and the records set during that time are tainted and the game has a long and drawn out process of figuring out who cheated and what the consequences of that cheating should be. It is a fact that Barry Bonds hit more home runs than any player in Major League history. It is also a fact that he used artificial and illegal means to hit many of those home runs which is something Hank Aaron certainly never did.
The federal government also comes out of this trial looking badly. The prosecution has looked incompetent over the course of the two Clemens trials. A mistrial has already been declared in the first trial due to misconduct by the prosecution and the second trial has already seen the rare indignity of the judge chastising the lawyers from the bench, telling them to move the case along and stop boring the jurors. One juror was actually dismissed for falling asleep during the trial.
While there is little doubt Clemens lied to Congress about his PED use, the question remains if it was a good use of taxpayers’ money to prosecute him. Even if Clemens is found guilty of perjury, he will likely be sentenced to either a short jail term or receive a similar sentence to Bonds who was placed under house arrest in one of his mansions for a short time. Is it worth it for the government to spend so much money prosecuting Clemens or Bonds when all they are going to get is a slap on the wrist anyway? Probably not.
So everybody loses in the Roger Clemens trial. The only question remaining for all of us is how much.