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Roger Clemens belongs in Hall of Fame

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  June 18, 2012 04:29 PM

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I believe Roger Clemens is a lying, cheating scoundrel, as delusional as he is duplicitous and half as smart as he thinks he is, divided by three.

I believe he didn't exactly ask out of Game 6, but didn't exactly plead to stay in.

I believe there's one hell of a profile waiting to written about his wife -- working title: "Stand By Your Oaf'' -- whom he loved, honored and obeyed by pinpointing her as the HGH dabbler in the family.

I believe he got away with one today, one final masterful escape from a jam of his own making, and blowing around amid the tumbleweeds between his ears is the thought that he was just excused for everything.

I also believe Roger Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame, and nothing that happened today -- or could have happened today, or probably should have happened today -- changed that.

A seven-week trial that felt more like seven years in the making concluded today when Clemens was found not guilty on all counts on six charges of perjury stemming from his testimony before Congress in 2008 when he denied using steroids or HGH.

Clemens, who won 354 games and seven Cy Young awards in a 24-year career, contradicted former senator George Mitchell's 2007 report linking him and dozens of other players to performance-enhancing drug use.

Clemens insisted that his trainer, Brian McNamee, injected him with a liquid vitamin, B-12, and the painkiller lidocaine, but never PEDs. McNamee countered that he injected Clemens with PEDs several times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And Andy Pettitte put it at 50-50 that he misremembered all of it.

For those Clemens fans blessed with a particularly strong willing suspension of disbelief, today's verdict falls somewhere between redemption and vindication. Congratulations on that.

For those of us who wonder how he won the AL pitching Triple Crown in the two years following his contentious departure from the Red Sox, who look at the 1.87 ERA at age 42, who remember the odd outbursts of rage (see: Piazza, Mike, 2000 World Series, bat-confused-for-ball, MUST HEAVE AT RUNNER ARGGH!), who can't quite grasp how he put off the twilight of his career for so long without any help in the heart of the PED era ... well, here's that final confirmation, all six counts of it, that McNamee really wasn't a particularly credible witness, especially under cross examination from that sly country fox, Rusty Hardin.

I'd believe Clemens thinks the word Congress begins with the letter "K'' before I'd believe that he told the truth during his testimony four years ago. And there are very few players who thrived during the PED era who I'd believe to be clean, and even fewer who had an extraordinary career renaissance in their mid-30s.

But beyond the massive waste of taxpayers' money on this pursuit of Clemens and Barry Bonds, I don't much care whether he used PEDs or not.

Yes, it left the record book tattered with asterisks, and role models became scarcer than 60-homer seasons, but nothing was done about it then, and nothing can be done about it now. It happened, and that stretch of history is going to be remembered as the steroid era for generations of fans to come.

Which brings us back around to that Hall of Fame thing. Had the verdict gone the other way today, I'd still say Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame, just as I believe Barry Bonds does, and any other players who were on the track to Cooperstown at the advent of the steroid era. They may be cheats and dirtbags and unethical sea slugs, but many were also the superior players of their era, and to me, the Hall of Fame is incomplete with out them.

(I suppose my point of view on Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson is becoming clear right about now as well.)

There's going to be a lot of verbal hand-wringing about this when Clemens and Bonds are on the ballot, and there will be certain baseball writers who use the power of their vote to make a statement. I understand that to a degree, though I'm telling you now I'm going to be enraged when Manny Ramirez is one-and-done on the ballot. While I tend to remember the summer of '98 and the Sosa/McGwire homerfest fondly -- hey, it was fun at the time -- I also know it was fraudulent.

But it was the era we lived in, and even if it means slapping a big, fat asterisk on a certain player's plaque, go ahead and do it, because I want the best of that era represented in Cooperstown. The logical suspicion is that PED users who got away with it have already been elected to the Hall. In most cases, all we have is suspicion. I'm all right with celebrating the frauds.

Whether he can admit it to himself or not, that's exactly what Roger Clemens will be doing tonight.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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