By Ross Newhan
So, a jury in Washington D.C.--Beltway Boneheads?--has acquitted Roger Clemens on all counts related to the charge that he lied to Congress in denying that he ever used performance enhancing drugs. This comes after federal prosecutors in San Francisco last year obtained only one conviction on four counts against Barry Bonds, the former Giants' slugger who is appealing his conviction of having obstructed justice when he misled a federal grand jury investigating PED use among elite athletes.
Let's get directly to the primary questions and answers:
Q--Do I think that Clemens, an unprecedented winner of seven Cy Young Awards, and Bonds, the all-time home run leader, used various forms of performance enhancing drugs at various junctures in their careers?
I simply do not believe that Brian McNamee, Clemens' former trainer, could spin the incriminating web that he has without having a background in fiction. Bonds, meanwhile, has acknowledged using a substance he did not realize was a steroid even as it contributed to a three-ring expansion of his head and body size and his trainer, Greg Anderson, probably set a record for the number of times charged with contempt of court for failing to answer questions related to Bonds and the use of PEDs.
Q--Should Clemens and Bonds be elected to the Hall of Fame?
I accept that there is no clear cut, overwhelmingly definitive evidence tying Clemens, in particular, and Bonds as well to PED use, and juries have pretty much exonerated both, but then a jury once acquitted O.J. Simpson of murder, and Clemens and Bonds getting away with their respective charges is pretty much murder, too. That's how I feel. That's what I came to believe in the process of covering both athletes and knowing what I do about clubhouse whispers and the Mitchell Report and an era in which PED use was rampant. Statistically, Clemens and Bonds belong in the Hall, but how many of those statistics were honestly achieved?, and character is part of the election criteria as well. Many of my peers will disagree, and they are as justified in voting for the pair as I am in withholding my vote. It is every eligible writer for himself.
Q--Should the federal prosecutions continue.
Aren't those millions of dollars better put in schools and highways?
Aside from a rare Ryan Braun or Manny Ramirez or some youthful stupidity by a minor leaguer, baseball has pretty much swept up the syringes and worked its way on a cooperative basis through a steroid era that the industry was initially too slow in attacking. There is now blood testing for human growth hormone and urine testing for steroids and amphetamines. The chemists will always try to stay ahead of the tests, but the rash of no hitters and perfect games are pretty much indicative that the wheel has turned.
Let the juries say what they want about Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. I'm confident that I know how it was.