If I was a prosecutor or federal investigator, I would throw my hands up and surrender. No more cases made against athletes that revolve around allegations they took steroids or human growth hormone. The juries have spoken, and they just don’t care, or more technically, I suppose, believe it.
Roger Clemens beat the rap Monday that he lied to Congress over taking performance-enhancing drugs. A jury in Washington, D.C. returned a verdict of not guilty in his perjury trial after 10 hours of deliberation. This was the culmination of a 10-week trial in a case that dates back about five years, counting investigatory time of Rahjah. The alleged offense was committed in February of 2008.
So officially Clemens did not lie. To some he may have been a pain in the butt, but no one showed convincingly he had been shot up in the butt with a needle. For some people this entire matter has been confusing. There has been no drug test that says Clemens did take the drugs. Now he has been proved innocent of saying he did not take them. Or something along those lines.
The fact that the jury talked for 10 hours meant that at least they thought about it. Probably. But what they thought in the end was what a lot of people thought in the beginning: Hasn’t the government got anything better to do and anything better to spend its money on than bugging athletes about their pharmaceutical habits?
It has taken years and millions of dollars to reach the point where Barry Bonds had all but one obstruction charge removed from his record, and he is appealing that. Now Clemens gets off. I really do believe the public doesn’t care about these guys being convicted. I think baseball fans took major offense over what has been summed up by the steroid era, but even the most ardent fans seem to differentiate between crimes against the sport and crimes against society.
For a time, we had to wonder if Bonds, the all-time home-run leader with 762, and Clemens, who won 354 games in a 24-season career, were going to be sharing a cell somewhere in the heartland. Now you have to figure they will be sharing a high-five on Baseball Hall of Fame induction day in Cooperstown.
We have also seen the difference in the court of law and the court of public perception. Of course they took drugs, so many said. Well, not even an army of manpower, buttressed by the resources of Fort Knox, could prove it. So it is easier to talk a lot than prove a lot.
Although there has been considerable sentiment expressed by the average Joe that the government (and that’s all governments, state and federal) should concentrate on catching “real criminals” the focus in the Clemens trial was not trying to prove that the former Red Sox and Yankees pitcher took performance-enhancing substances per se (though that would have been the byproduct), but that he lied to Congress. That may seem like splitting hairs, but they are different offenses.
Certainly the feelings of the gallery believing that the government should go after drug dealers more than drug abusers, or murderers, frauds and the like, will only be solidified.
In the baseball world, those who dislike Bonds and Clemens, those who suspect them of being cheats, have had the fundamentals of their arguments against their becoming Hall of Famers cut out from under them. When Bonds and Clemens become eligible for the Hall of Fame, they will be voted in, as they should be, based on their achievements.
The vote will not be unanimous, and possibly they will fail to make it on the first ballot if enough members of the baseball writers group issue protest votes, but that would be no more than a stalling tactic, and they will get in.