In court of public opinion, Clemens still doesn't stand a chance
Roger Clemens' acquittal will keep him out of jail. That doesn't mean it will or should change the public consensus that he used steroids, and it doesn't mean he's headed for the Hall of Fame. Or that he should be.
|Roger Clemens walks with his family after being found not guilty. (Getty Images)|
In the court of public opinion, we don't need witnesses. We don't need testimony.
We don't even need to be fair.
In the court of public opinion, Roger Clemens doesn't stand a chance.
As one baseball man said to me after hearing that Clemens was acquitted Monday in that other court in Washington, "He'd better not boast about it."
The simple fact is this: If you believed before Monday that Roger Clemens is a dirty steroid cheat, chances are you still believe it.
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And if you leave steroid guys off your Hall of Fame ballot, as I have the last two years, you're going to leave Clemens off the ballot, too.
Roger is not going to jail. But I'm still saying he's not going to Cooperstown, either.
He'll be on the ballot in December, for the first time. Some will vote for him, just as some vote for Mark McGwire, just as some will vote for Barry Bonds.
But just as the government has never been able to prove that Bonds lied about steroids (and they tried), they weren't able to prove Clemens lied, either.
It's hard to prove perjury, and it should be.
But you can trust our system of justice while still trusting what your eyes and your instincts tell you about Roger Clemens.
He's free, in the sense that he won't go to jail. We're free to believe what we want to believe.
Do I believe that Roger Clemens used steroids?
Absolutely, I do. And so, I'm guessing, do most of you.
I've talked to quite a few people since the Clemens verdict came out. Our Gregg Doyel is the only one I know of who says the verdict changed his view. And I'm not even sure Doyel will stick to his new "Clemens is clean" idea.
As Keith Olbermann said on Twitter Monday afternoon, "Ask Shoeless Joe Jackson how that acquittal stuff worked out."
And a whole lot more people believe that Shoeless Joe didn't throw the World Series than believe Roger Clemens didn't use steroids.