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Roger Clemens speaks

Image (1) clemens.jpg for post 4312

Roger Clemens doesn’t give too many interviews these days, but he spoke with Jon Pessah of True/Slant recently, and the results are here.

You may or may not be shocked to learn that the Rocket has sympathy for Mark McGwire and Tiger Woods. You probably will be a bit surprised to hear that Clemens’ flushed, lip-licking appearance before Congress -- which some pseudo-science peddling body language experts claimed to be evidence of lying* -- was due him taking a three mile run that morning. Not saying you’ll believe it, just saying you might be surprised to hear it.

*why we need to resort to pseudo-science to determine that Clemens was lying that day when so much of what he said was manifestly ridiculous is a question for another day.

But nothing Clemens says is terribly provocative. At least not as provocative as something Pessah said in the editorial portion of the interview:

If I’m concerned about how the steroid era played out -- and I am -- I’m far more concerned with those in charge who threw Barry Bonds, Clemens and a handful of others under the bus to save themselves. No one has profited more from steroids in baseball than Selig, who sold his team for a fortune just before the steroid bubble burst and rode the popularity of a game built on PEDs to an $18 million yearly salary. Then he gave George Mitchell $20 million to pin the blame for steroids on an angry black man and an arrogant white Texan. Anyone who believes Selig’s spiel that he’s cleaned up baseball is both naive and foolish. As Victor Conte continually tells me, drug tests are little more than IQ tests--you really have to be dumb to flunk one. And there is still no proven test for HgH.

I was highly critical of the Mitchell Report when it came out and believe to this day that it was designed to create scapegoats and to try and end the steroid conversation as opposed to truly investigating the totality of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. I don’t think, however, that anyone went out to set up Bonds or Clemens specifically, especially based on some half-baked cultural stereotypes. If anything, I think Selig and Mitchell wanted to make Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee the fall guys. To the extent Clemens has become a pariah it’s largely of his own doing (see, post-report behavior; Mindy McCreedy ugliness, etc.). If anyone set out to make Bonds a fall guy or a poster boy or whatever it was Jeff Novitzsky and whatever supervisors he had who were asleep at the switch.

But there’s some truth in that blockquote, mostly with the notion that everyone in baseball -- players, owners, agents, executives, advertisers, lawyers and, yes, people in the media -- profited from steroids, and yet only one subset of one class of people -- superstar players -- get any scorn. There’s something wrong with that.