Back in late 2007, Roger Clemens was famously named in the Mitchell Report, which was former Senator George Mitchell’s investigation into performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. While there were scores of other players mentioned as well, Clemens, along with Barry Bonds, was the biggest star involved. And, because of his forceful denials, defiant press conferences and post-report litigation strategy, Clemens probably ended up worse off in the wake of the Mitchell Report than just about anyone else named in it.
After the report came out, Clemens sued his primary accuser, former trainer Brian McNamee, claiming that McNamee was lying. Clemens’ suit, however, was completely eviscerated by a federal court and what little was left of it was eventually dismissed. McNamee, in turn, sued Clemens for defamation as a result of the stuff Clemens said about him in his post-report press conferences and interviews. That suit had legs, with Clemens finally settling it in the spring of 2015, presumably paying McNamee a great sum of money. Between the release of the Mitchell Report and the settling of that suit, of course, came criminal perjury charges against Clemens, which he beat in court, and a public relations nightmare for the seven-time Cy Young Award winner which he’s never really lived down.
For all of that craziness, you’d think Clemens wouldn’t want to talk about any of that anymore, but last night he appeared on the TV show “Undeniable with Joe Buck” and lashed out at George Mitchell and former congressman Henry Waxman, who held the PED hearings in the wake of the Mitchell Report in which Clemens allegedly perjured himself:
“I should’ve just set my wallet on the table because it was just about money . . . I’d like to find out if Waxman had a referral fee from Mitchell. I think Mitchell got paid, before my name got put in there, I think he got paid close to $40 million . . . It was nothing short of a ‘Jerry Springer Show.'”
You can watch that all in the video below.
At the outset, I’ll grant this much: The Mitchell Report was a flawed exercise that raised more questions than it answered. Mostly because it didn’t seem to want to really answer any important questions about PEDs in baseball apart from spinning out some player names, presumably to take the heat off of Major League Baseball and put the heat on the players alone. I’ve written extensively about that. I’ll also grant that the PED hearings before Congress were a stage show, filled with politicians grandstanding. I’ve argued that for years.
Beyond that, though, Clemens has zero credibility about any of this and his lashing out at others is just sad.
If, as Clemens continues to claim, he never took PEDs, he could’ve issued a simple denial and gone on with his life like so many others did. Heck, he could’ve done that even if it was a lie and nothing would have happened to him because, even by 2007, most people didn’t believe ballplayer lies about it anyway. Alternatively, if he took PEDs, as most of us suspect he did, he could’ve admitted it. Whatever the case, he had any number of options that likely would’ve ended the PED story for him in early 2008, just as it ended for Andy Pettitte and almost everyone else named in the report.
He chose, however, to mount a combative and litigious campaign against his accusers. It was that campaign that led to him being hauled before Congress. It was that campaign that led to him being sued for defamation by Brian McNamee. It was that campaign which led to all manner of sordid details about his personal life being printed in every newspaper and broadcast on every channel. It sucks for anyone who has to go through that, but he would not have had to go through that if not for his stubbornness, arrogance, and the miscalculations he and his attorneys made in late 2007 and early 2008.
I think Roger Clemens was one of the best pitchers in baseball history. I think he should be in the Hall of Fame. And I’m sad for anyone who has to go through a bunch of terrible stuff and has their personal life splashed all over the newspapers, even if he isn’t the nicest person on the planet.
But Clemens’ ripping other people for what he went through is a bit too much. It seems like, even nearly a decade later, he has learned nothing from this experience. That’s rather sad.