Superstar baseball pitcher Roger Clemens walked out of a federal courthouse on Monday, a free and acquitted man, and on Tuesday stepped into the court of public opinion.
Political and sports journalists and columnists opined across the Internet on Tuesday about Clemens' trial and what may be the most intriguing result of it - whether or not Clemens should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, when he becomes eligible.
After a four-and-a-half-year investigation and trial, Clemens was cleared by a federal grand jury Monday of all six charges he faced: One count of obstructing Congress, three counts of making false statements before Congress, and two counts of perjury during his congressional testimony. The charges were not a direct accusation of using performance-enhancing drugs, only whether he testified truthfully about it. It was his second trial, after a 2011 mistrial.
Fans had their say throughout the debate that started Tuesday, offering their opinions on blogs and online polls. Initial results showed they were as conflicted as sportswriters appeared to be - a National Public Radio poll found 355 respondents, or 45.3 percent, said Clemens should not be inducted, while 334 respondents, or 42.6 percent, said he should. The remainder said Clemens should be inducted but not in the first year of his eligibility.
Sportswriters who are members of the Baseball Writers Association of America vote on Hall inductions, and many of them were wavering on Tuesday. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe said he was going to vote for Clemens even before Monday's verdict. But Yahoo baseball columnist Tim Brown said he would not.
Fox Sports columnist Ken Rosenthal, a sports journalist who casts votes on Hall of Fame nominees and will be reviewing Clemens' candidacy, spoke for many in saying his thinking is "conflicted at best."
"Those tired of all the lies of the steroid era take a more cynical view, knowing that Clemens' tireless work ethic and late-career surge possibly were the result of more than just his powerful will," Rosenthal wrote Tuesday. "I'm in (that) group, and as a Hall voter, I am not bound by the standards of a federal juror. The Hall does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt for those who wish to withhold support for alleged users of PEDs. Voters can apply almost any standard they want… Still, I'm not quite sure what to do with Clemens."
Sports Illustrated columnist Tom Verducci predicted that Clemens was never likely to reach the Hall on the first ballot, and he may never do so.
"Perhaps it's best, anyway, that Clemens, Barry Bonds and the like be passed to a Hall of Fame veterans committee 15 to 20 years from now -- a veritable jury of their peers, with many of those selectors being Hall of Famers," Verducci wrote.
Seattle Times sportswriter Larry Stone, another of those who will judge Clemens for the Hall of Fame, said cases like Clemens' have made voting for nominees "downright miserable" for sportswriters, although he said he was "poised" to vote for him.
"We are being asked to ascertain the legitimacy of those numbers, most often based on innuendo, hunches and circumstantial evidence. And I hate that," Stone wrote. "I've written many times of my reluctance to be the "steroids police." We'll never know definitively who used and who didn't use -- the Clemens case being Exhibit A."
Clemens' first-time appearance on a ballot for the Hall of Fame will come in 2013. He will appear alongside Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, both of whom are also suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens ended his career with a 354-184 record, 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts.
by RTT Staff Writer
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