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United States v. Roger Clemens is a waste of everyone's time


Hate Mail: Adventures in numerology

In the case of The United States v. Roger Clemens, the government thinks it's helping somebody. Not metaphorically or symbolically, but literally. The government thinks this is good. This is something we want. This is helping.

The government thinks this trial will remind everyone -- that's you, and that's me -- that lying under oath is wrong. The government also thinks this trial will serve as a lesson for all you kids out there that steroids are bad. Don't take them, little Johnny Ballplayer. This is your reminder. That's what the government thinks.

Here's what I think about The United States v. Roger Clemens: I think the government's case is run by idiots.

Roger Clemens faces years in prison not for using steroids, but for lying about it to Congress. (Getty Images)  
Roger Clemens faces years in prison not for using steroids, but for lying about it to Congress. (Getty Images)  
This isn't a Tea Party rant about Big Government sticking its nose into our affairs. And this isn't a liberal plea for compassion toward Clemens, because he has been through so much already. No. This is neither of those.

This is steroid fatigue. That's all this is. I'm tired of the whole issue, and I'm preaching to the choir because I know you're tired of it. And the irony doesn't elude me, because here I am complaining about steroid fatigue even as I slog through another set of steroid-story dumbbells.

Maybe I'm the dumbbell.

Nah. The government is the dumbbell, because this is stupid. Roger Clemens is a fraud and a liar, a Hall of Fame pitcher who wanted more and broke the law to make it happen, but this whole case is stupid.

Roger Clemens is guilty -- of using steroids, of lying about it to Congress -- and the world knows it. We don't need a trial by a jury of our peers to know Clemens is guilty (especially if our peers are as dumb as the ones who mostly let Barry Bonds skate in April.) If I'm the prosecutor of this Clemens charade, I'm using my opening statement to say the following:

"In 2005, Roger Clemens had a 1.87 ERA, the best of his career. He allowed just 6.4 hits per nine innings, the best in baseball. He was 43 years old. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case."

Witnesses? I wouldn't need any stinking witnesses. I wouldn't need trainer Brian McNamee's bloody syringes or Andy Pettitte's remembrances. I wouldn't need anything but the fact that Roger Clemens was a great pitcher at age 23, very good but declining at 33, and then somehow better than ever at 43. If I'm the prosecutor of this charade, I would put that timeline up on an easel, then sit down. The prosecution rests.

No, actually, if I was the prosecutor of this charade, I would call it off. The prosecution withdraws the charges against William Roger Clemens because of steroid fatigue, your honor. Your fatigue and mine. The jury's fatigue. Society's fatigue. There is nothing new here to be learned.

If people out there haven't learned it by now, they never will.

Roger Clemens on trial
Ray Ratto Ray Ratto
This trial will have an Aha! moment, and that will be whether Rusty Hardin can undo Brian McNamee. Read More >>
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Lying under oath is wrong. Surely you get that, though I would argue that lying to Congress under oath about yourself, as Clemens did, isn't nearly as bad as perjury at a criminal trial. Clemens wasn't telling a lie in the hopes of sending an innocent defendant to jail, or helping a guilty defendant avoid jail. He was merely lying about his own greatness, telling Congress that he hadn't cheated. That he had won all those games, all those Cy Young Awards, with the body the good Lord gave him.

That was a lie. And lying is bad.

But is it worth going to jail for up to 30 years?


I would argue that Clemens has served his time, and will continue to serve his time. He has been sentenced to a lifetime of humiliation, and for a guy like Clemens, that's about the worst thing that can happen. He's a proud guy, overly proud, and most of the world thinks he cheated to achieve what he achieved -- when the reality is, he didn't. Not back in the 1980s when he was one of the best pitchers of his era, a future Hall of Famer. He was that good, but then he ruined it.

Like Barry Bonds, greatness wasn't great enough. Clemens couldn't bear being caught by inferior players, of allowing home runs to -- or in Bonds' case, hitting fewer home runs than -- frauds like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. So Clemens took what those guys were taking. Can't beat 'em? Join 'em.

And here we are today. There's enough evidence -- circumstantial and eyewitness -- to convict Clemens of steroid use, and to convict him easily.

But he's not on trial for using steroids. He's on trial for lying about using steroids. To Congress.

Like it matters.

It doesn't. The world doesn't need a jury of 12 to tell us Clemens is a cheater and a liar. Nor do we need a month-long trial to know steroids are dangerous. Believe me, we know. Everyone knows. If the threat of testicle shrinkage isn't enough to scare off a teenage boy from using steroids, The United States v. Roger Clemens won't do it.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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