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Keidel: No Clemency For Roger Clemens

By Jason Keidel
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The government doesn't listen to chin music. You can't throw a bowtie fastball, whizzing by the collar of a congressman. When Roger Clemens, fueled by hubris, stupidity, or both, sauntered into Congress with mien of mendacity, he essentially ruined his legacy.

But worse, he may have "misremembered" his way into an orange jumpsuit. Aside from adding that odd word to our world – a legitimate one, by accident – everything else he said was earnest but not honest. He said he never took steroids, a lie of colossal contours, and one that may get him a new uniform number, one with many more digits than he's accustomed to.

He lied to congress, something a second-grader knows is wrong, but not a man with seven Cy Young awards, nine digits in the bank, and flanked by pricey attorneys. Rusty Hardin didn't have the hardihood or the authority to snap the leash on Clemens, which makes you wonder why he was even there to represent the "Rocket," who's now on trial for perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress.

The montage of metaphors is endless. Mine is that he fitted himself for the noose when he was loose with the truth. The Clemens case is a giant billboard for the disparity in classes, the chasmal gap between those who fly on Lear Jets around the world and those of us who live in it. Maybe with that stratospheric success comes an abject arrogance that can't be curbed.

Like his choice to cheat with steroids, he voluntarily committed semantic suicide. Perhaps not even Freud can figure this one out.

No doubt we've all had our "What was He thinking?" moment. It shows that physical and metaphysical splendor (or common sense) aren't related. He ran into an opponent he couldn't intimidate. Instead, Roger Clemens is the one who struck out.

Suzyn Waldman's (OH, MY GOODNESS!) meltdown aside, it never seemed to this Yankees fan that he was ever beloved. Respected, of course, and cherished on the occasionally brilliant day when the Bombers had no bombs in them. But never worshipped like Derek, Bernie, Tino, and Paul. He always seemed just a little more likeable as Barry Bonds, which isn't saying much.

Everything about this case is odd, from his former trainer actually saving syringes and other extracts of DNA to Clemens's pal Pettitte dovetailing with his own confession. With the weight of converging confessions on his broad shoulders, Roger didn't learn an essential truth – a confession (even a partial one) is good for the soul and the game's sanctity and our sanity. Few of us actually believe Pettitte when he said he did HGH just twice, and likewise with A-Rod when he narrowed his juicing world to Texas. But the mere fact that they came clean (forgive the oxymoron) in some regard rendered them better people in public opinion.

The irony with Clemens is he spilled the beans on Capitol Hill when he needn't say a word. He was served no subpoena, yet marched into a building with lies like so many fastballs on a fifth day. But his obvious PED use does explain a few things – like his Mike Piazza dementia, drilling the former Met in the head and then tossing the shard of a shattered bat back at him during the World Series. You could call that quintessential 'Roid Rage.

Perhaps Clemens had a sudden, subconscious surge to get caught, to pay this very public penance as a way of assuaging himself, overwhelmed with guilt, shame, and blame. You'd like to think he has feelings like the rest of us, even if there's little evidence to support the notion.

Bonds and Clemens are the twin, tragic faces of the steroid epoch. Again, with irony pulsing through both lives, each man a hall-of-famer without the juice, yet couldn't accept what all of us must: time and its torments, aging and decay, a loss of dominance. Simply, they could not accept being human.

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