The Rocket’s Red Glare


I misremember the specifics, but during Roger Clemens time in Boston there was one specific incident where he committed quite a public gaffe.  Kevin McHale, the Hall of Fame NBA forward, said it best when he commented, “They call him the Rocket Man, not the Rocket Scientist”.


It’s now much deeper, and much more troublesome.  Either Clemens was unwilling or unable to listen to his advisors, or perhaps his advisors were a group of psychophants who were only interested in telling him what he wanted to hear.


Clemens spent his entire career either intimidating others, or looking for confrontations.  He never shaved on the days he would pitch, so that he would appear more menacing.  There was the Mike Piazza bat throwing incident, and the Terry Cooney 1990 ALCS argument, and countless other times when Clemens, the biggest bully on the block, added to the mystique of his Texas gunslinger image.


Given that, perhaps an  act of contrition was an impossibility.  The bully can never back down.  It is part of the image, the aura.  Once the bully shows any sign of vulnerability, the game is over.  Pride cometh before the fall.


Baseball fans are quite forgiving, and have a very short memory.  Who remembers the principal participants involved in baseball’s cocaine scandal of the 1980’s?  One All Star player was quoted as saying the reason he slid head first was so that the cocaine vials in his back pocket would not explode.  Another All-Star was given a standing ovation after returning from exile.  A more recent example is the strike of 1994.  There were countless fans who vowed they would never come back to the ballpark.  Almost all of them did.


The truth shall set you free.  Confession is good for the soul.  Jason Giambi was the first prominent player to confess to steroid use.  He was initially excorciated  in the press.  Over time, all has either been forgotten or forgiven.


Andy Pettite, by showing remorse, wound up with much dignity and grace.  His conscience is probably clear.  The Yankees have welcomed him back with open arms.


What is so preposterous is that the Clemens team brought this entirely on themselves.  Congress didn’t ask him to come and testify.  His (or their) very public posturing and denials left them no choice.   It has been an utter PR fiasco.  One of the greatest pitchers of all time,  will probably face perjury charges and quite likely face jail time.  All because the bully wouldn’t back down, and decided to throw everyone close to him under the bus.


Clemens does have 118 complete games, but if he ever did need a closer to come in and take him off the hook, now is the time. 


The only thing that will save him is a presidential pardon.


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