What does the indictment do for Clemens’ Hall of Fame case?
I only pose this question because someone will ask it, and I’ll be damned if I don’t have to have all the answers. Short version: this shouldn’t matter a lick.
As we recently discussed when A-Rod hit his 600th home run, there are some Hall of Fame voters who will never, ever vote for a PED-associated player no matter what. For them, Clemens’ name was already mud. They weren’t any more waiting for a court to convict him to make up their minds than they were trying to determine how much of a boost A-Rod got from a couple year’s of PEDs. Brian McNamee could recant tomorrow, and a great number of these voters would still not vote for Clemens based on his infidelities or his association with known PED dealers or what have you. The die has been cast.
Those voters who don’t take such an approach, however, aren’t likely to be deterred by the indictment. They -- like Buster Olney -- are able to appreciate that (a) lots and lots of players used PEDs in their career; and (b) still only a few, like Clemens, were elite players. It doesn’t take a super genius to appreciate that Clemens (like Bonds and A-Rod) were a different brand of ballplayer than more borderline players like Rafael Palmiero or even Mark McGwire who, quite possibly, might not have gotten into the Hall of Fame conversation without PEDs.
My guess is that even some of the more open minded voters will change their tune if Clemens is ultimately convicted of perjury. Not because of the PEDs, but because of their belief that that the character considerations that are supposed to enter into Hall of Fame voting preclude convicted criminals (even if there are several convicted criminals in the Hall of Fame). I don’t think there are enough of these doubters to ultimately keep Clemens out, however.
My guess: while Clemens won’t be a first-ballot unanimous Hall of Famer like he should be based on his baseball accomplishments, he will eventually make the Hall of Fame. As he should.