September 28, 2021

Roger Talks, and the Team Responds

March 8, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

After new writer Jon Pessah sat down and talked with Roger Clemens last month, he polled his fellow Seamheads for their take on the Rocket and his place in baseball. Here’s the transcript of the conversation that followed.

“I used to be the biggest Roger Clemens fan alive. Then he left the Sox and I was bitter, mostly at Dan Duquette for seemingly forcing him out the door.  But when Clemens trashed the organization on his way out of town, he pissed me off.  Then he spouted off a bunch of nonsense about how wonderful Toronto was and how well the team and city treated his family, only to spurn the Blue Jays a few years later for the Yankees.  I realized at that point that he’s a liar, so I’m not surprised that he’s denied using PEDs.  Frankly, I hope he gets nailed to the wall.  And I also don’t think a confession at this point is going to help him.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s too late, just like it was too late with Pete Rose.”

—Michael Lynch, founder of

Pessah: As a life-long Yankees fan, I resented the hell of Roger kissing the Babe’s plaque, but then he won 20 of 21, was must-see TV, and suddenly he was a Yankee.

* * * * *

“Clemens is hasn’t played in two full seasons and he’s faded out of the public eye. He’ll be back in the news if/when anything comes of the perjury investigation. And when he gets closer to the Hall of Fame eligibility. I think he and Barry Bonds will be the biggest test cases for steroid users—or reputed steroid users. There were some who wouldn’t have voted for Mark McGwire for the Hall even if he was clean, figuring he was a one-dimensional player.  You can’t say that about Bonds and Clemens—even if you discount their steroid years they still seem to be HoF worthy.

I think when it all is said and done, Clemens will probably does get into the Hall of Fame.  Not in the first ballot, and probably not on the second, either. But eventually makes it in.”

—Daniel Shoptaw, author of C70 At The Bat, founder of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Pessah: I think baseball fans hope that he stays off the stage. I thinks fans would rather not be reminded about the steroids era, and have taken to heart Selig’s spiel that the game is now clean. I agree that Roger will become a car wreck of a story if/when the perjury investigation resurfaces—what ever happened to the right to a speedy trial? As you say, he’ll becomes a test case in three years when he becomes HoF eligible. No the way Roger ever thought he’d go out this way.

* * * * *

“I have been more than happy to watch Roger Clemens’ fall from grace. Not because I dislike him, or have an anti-steroids bias. What ticked me off was his holier than thou attitude when it was clear that all the arguments used against Barry Bonds applied to Clemens—enormous size compared to his younger days, exceptional performance at an advanced age. I’m not prone to play the race card, but it was unbelievable how Barry Bonds was vilified as a “cheat” but Clemens was praised as having a “dedicated work ethic.”

I think ultimately the marquee players of the steroid era will get into the Hall. One, players like Clemens and Bonds were HoFer’s before accusations of steroids appeared. Two, the more players are identified as users, the harder it is to ban them all from the Hall. I can’t imagine Roger’s not done for good. And I can’t imagine he won’t end up in Cooperstown.”

—Jeff Katz, author of The Kansas City A’s & The Wrong Half of the Yankees and the blog, Maybe Baby (or, You Know That It Would Be Untrue), a “what if” history of rock and roll.

Pessah: I, too, think there’s no doubt Roger is Cooperstown bound. I thought McGwire was borderline HoF regardless of his steroid admission, though it is obvious that many inthe BBWAA continues to make him pay for their collective frustrations for missing the steroid story. And yes, these are many of he same writers who vociferously defended McGwire’s use of Andro in 1998 instead of reporting why it was banned by the NFL, NCAA, the Olympics and even the PGA. We’ll learn the true extent of their frustration when certain first-ballot players Bonds and Clemens become eligible in three years.

* * * * *

“I think the lesson to take from this—and Tiger Woods, too—is to be careful of who you idolize. Like anybody, some of my childhood heroes were athletes and I admired all of them for having such a cool job. But one of the first things I learned from my experiences as a sportswriter and getting to know some athletes is that they have flaws and vices, just like anybody.”

—Mike Fratto, Washington Times sports columnist

Pessah: Amen.

* * * * *

“I have a great interest in learning about baseball’s stories behind the stories. This is what motivated me to write Stealing Greatness. The so-call steroid era is part of the game’s history and fans deserve to understand how some of those performances may have been, uh, influenced. Not that I need to know any more details about the personal trainer injecting Roger’s wife in their bedroom, much like I don’t care to see another time-line of what really happened on Tiger Woods’ front lawn last Thanksgiving. But when it comes to the numbers that are etched into the baseball record book, fans have a right to hold those figures in the proper perspective. I’d like to know more about how and why The Rocket went from a .500 pitcher with a 3.77 ERA between the ages of 30 and 33 to the second coming of Walter Johnson, much like I would be interested in learning more about how Babe Ruth convinced Lou Gehrig to start swinging from the knob of the bat just before that legendary 1927 season.”

—John Cappello is author the author of “Stealing Greatness,” a book that demonstrates the devastating impact steroid use has had on major league baseball’s record book, and the founder of

Pessah: The steroid era will eventually take it’s place in the record book alongside the deadball era and the era that ended when Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947.

* * * * *

“Roger Clemens is old news. I’m certain he is retired. Fans have obviously soured on him based on what has happened in the last year.

I think his chances for the Hall of Fame are similar to those of Barry Bonds. Just as Bonds was the dominant hitter in the game at his peak, Clemens was the dominant pitcher.  I don’t think either will make it on the first ballot in 2013, but they will eventually make it—but I don’t expect to be around when they do.”

—Bill Gilbert, a Baseball Analyst and Writer, residing in Texas.

Pessah: I agree that Roger is old news—until his legal situation is sorted out. (It will be two years next month that Justice Department began the perjury investigation. No matter what you think of Clemens, that is a long time to be in legal limbo.) Hard to imagine the Obama Administration wants another baseball/steroid dog and pony show in Washington, but I keep hearing that he will be indicted. As for the Hall, I just hope I’m around to hear their induction speeches whenever Clemens and Bonds arrive in Cooperstown.

* * * * *

“As much as I love sports I don’t care for the professional athletes because of the drug use, the money, the greed, and the disconnect with the fans. It seems like the passion has been sucked out of the game at that the pro level. We’ve again been forced to watch another fallen hero when Mark McGwire shed tears as he fessed up about lying and cheating. But of course it wasn’t really cheating because we all know steroids really don’t help that much.

Andre Agassi’s came clean about his drug just as his book came out filled with dirty laundry. I’m sure he got millions for the book. Good for you, Andre. Benefit from the drugs on the court, have your fun with them off the court, then make millions more on a speaking tour telling our kids not to do what you did—because nothing good can come of it.

As someone who works in the youth serving field, I’d prefer to hear from the guy who could have been great but speaks to us from prison because of his drug use. Or the career minor leaguer who was kept at arm’s length from his dream because he refuses to gain an unfair advantage, or compromise his mind, body, and spirit for success on the field. Better yet, show me the laborer who went to work every day, possibly sacrificing his own dream, to support his family. He doesn’t have a lot of money, but he has his dignity.

Sadly, it’s the celebrity athletes who get all the attention. Maybe Roger is clean—I sure hope so. But either way, the focus on him and others in his situation keeps the spotlight from the real good guys.”

—Joe Shrode, Southwest Field Rep, Indiana Youth Institute

Pessah: As the father of two sons now 22 and 26, I’ve long struggled with the conflicting messages of our popular culture. So hang with me here for a second: There are many things to admire about Roger Clemens—his work ethic, his ability to focus, his baseball talents, the work he does for charity. There are  also things to dislike about him, without even getting into the whole steroids questions. He was verbally abusive to many of those around him, demanded to be treated as a superstar, enjoyed being considered royalty. That said, how many of us would be able to keep ours heads straight when we’ve been told we’re special since the time we were 10?

* * * * *

“My sense is that using steroids—and even lying about it—isn’t enough to override everything Clemens did on the field. It hurts his image, but he’s not the first to break the law to be a better player. And he’s one of many who took steroids—he’s just one of the easier targets to punish. We don’t praise athletes for their moral achievements or their endearing personalities. Unless they cross certain absolute boundaries—like throwing games—our opinion of them vis a vis the Hall of Fame should be based on what they did on the field. And it’s not as though Clemens, McGwire, and Bonds, and others are escaping the consequences for using steroids.”

—Arne Christensen has a baseball history blog, Misc. Baseball. The first World Series he remembers watching was the Mets vs. Clemens and the Red Sox in 1986

Pessah: Both Clemens and Bonds have been convicted in the court of public opinion and punished far in excess of any penalties for steroid use. As stacked as the deck seems, what ever happened to presumption of innocence? Most thought the Duke lacrosse players were guilty when that story broke. How did that work out?

To read others’ reactions to the Clemens interview, including former BALCO owner Victor Conte, click here.


One Response to “Roger Talks, and the Team Responds”
  1. Arne says:

    I don’t have a lot else to add about Clemens. I don’t know how much of a real fan Bush is, but his baseball heritage-his dad playing for Yale, him owning the Rangers-must have had a lot to do with Justice going after Clemens and Bonds, and the hearings, etc. It seems that Obama isn’t nearly as invested in punishing players for their alleged steroids sins, so maybe the perjury cases will decline into a plea deal, or some other non-dramatic ending. It does feel ludicrous that in the midst of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a runaway housing bubble and crack-up, and everything else, Justice has spent millions of dollars on a couple of minor perjury cases.

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