Roger Clemens Has No One to Blame for Indictment but Himself

Clemens's behavior has a lot to do with why he was indicted

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Aug 20, 2010  |  Updated 6:48 AM EDT
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Athletes Tainted by Drug Allegations

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The Mitchell Report, a 21-month investigation into steroid and HGH use in baseball was not kind to Roger Clemens.

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Part of the reason why Roger Clemens was such a successful pitcher in the major leagues was because he never backed down from any hitter trying to beat him in a big spot. He was always confident in his abilities and always sure that his best would beat anyone else's, so he just let the speedball fly and dealt with whatever happened next.

Real life isn't baseball, though, and that same mentality is why Clemens finds himself facing an indictment for perjury. It won't be long before Clemens turns himself in for a mug shot, fingerprinting and everything else that comes with being charged with lying to the United States Congress.

At some point we'll hear from Clemens or from his attorneys and it's a good bet that they will disparage the honesty of Brian McNamee, question the motives of the prosecution and basically point a finger at everyone but the Rocket for creating this situation. It's a shame because a little introspection would have gone a long way for Clemens.

If Clemens had simply issued a short, terse denial of steroid use in the aftermath of the release of the Mitchell Report in 2007 we wouldn't be here right now. If he (or better yet, his lawyer) had simply said that he knew the truth and would let the record speak for itself, we wouldn't be here right now. Some people would have believed him and some would have gone the other way but there's almost no chance he'd be facing an indictment.

Instead, Clemens immediately went to the mattresses. He sued McNamee, his former trainer, for defamation even though it is extremely difficult to prove such cases when they involve a celebrity. He did every interview he could and made as much noise as humanly possible to draw attention to his denials. He played recorded phone conversations and sponsored volumes of statistical analysis in an attempt to clear his name. Ultimately, he created such a ruckus that Congress stepped in and started us down the road to the indictment.

Good people can and do disagree about what role, if any, Congress should have had in these proceedings but such arguments are moot now. They did get involved, the stakes were raised and Clemens still refused to yield or measure his words enough to avoid an investigation. Is there any doubt that had Clemens merely denied the report and moved on with his life that Congress would have done the same? 

Now, though, Clemens has become a pariah. He's thrown his wife under the bus, accused former friend and teammate Andy Pettitte of being a liar without a shred of rationale and he's seen all kinds of dirty laundry from his private life aired for the world to see. You'd never tell anyone to sit back and allow themselves to be accused of something they didn't do. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, though, and Clemens couldn't possibly have picked a messier way.

None of this makes him guilty, of course, and we've got a lot of miles to go before this trial, if it ever happens, wends its way to a conclusion. Regardless of how things play out, Clemens has seen his reputation ruined and his life turned upside down because of the way he chose to fight back.

The bible tells us that "pride goes before destruction," a lesson that Clemens seems to have avoided learning at the highest cost.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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