Pardoning Roger Clemens

An undeserved Hall of Famer takes aim at the Boss
The most valuable team in all the game

As I write this post, there are just 36 hours left in the presidency of George W. Bush, and baseball fans might be watching closely. Pardon rumors surrounding Roger Clemens just won’t die.

On Friday, the Daily News’ I-Team blog, run by the paper’s sports investigative team, noted that Dana Perino, White House press secretary, basically shot down the idea of a Clemens pardon. Meanwhile, yesterday, Buster Olney hypothesized on the prospects of a pardon. In the end, the ESPN scribe didn’t believe a pardon would be forthcoming.

For the most part, baseball on the whole is sick of the Clemens-Bonds-steroids saga. It’s become far more about catching a big fish in a lie or half-truth about something they did five or ten years ago. While George Mitchell tried to gloss over the shortcomings of his report by half-heartedly suggesting ways the game should look forward, once he named names the report became a useless piece of sensationalistic reporting instead of a series of serious recommendations.

The Bush pardon question, though, and Clemens’ potential culpability raise some interesting questions. If Bush were to pardon Clemens, in a way, this part of the saga would be over. No longer would we have to listen to he said, he said fights between Clemens and McNamee as the game of baseball tries to move beyond the cloud of steroid.

Olney summed up the argument for a pardon in a nutshell:

He probably has already suffered the greatest punishment he will receive: the diminishment of his reputation and legacy. In the past month, a golf tournament removed Clemens’ name from its title, as did a hospital funded by the pitcher’s money. It’s possible he will never be inducted into the Hall of Fame, despite putting up the most daunting numbers of any pitcher in his lifetime.

Why bother running Clemens through the public spectacle of a trial, basically?

Well, the flip side of that argument is a good one. It’s possible that Clemens lied to Congress, and as Olney writes, if Bush pardons his friend Roger Clemens, he may have to do the same for Barry Bonds. At that point, millions of government dollars and thousands of man-hours would basically have gone to waste. Of course, many people already think the money has gone to waste, and a witch hunt for Bonds or Clemens won’t make anyone feel better.

In the end, a Clemens pardon is probably, as Olney said, a headline-grabbing event that Bush seems to be trying to avoid in his final day in office. He’s taken heat for the Isaac Toussie pardon and seems much less trigger-happy on the pardon issue than Bill Clinton did during the waning days of his presidency.

So the steroid circus will continue. While I’d hardly advocate for pardoning Clemens or Bonds, part of me thinks the health of baseball and the continued success of the game would benefit from the opportunity to put the Steroid Era behind us once and for all.

An undeserved Hall of Famer takes aim at the Boss
The most valuable team in all the game
  • Matthew

    Anything that will just put the whole Clemens circus in the background I’m for, I’m just not sure a pardon would do it. Sure, legally it ends it, but then you still hear about it, and for a little while the pardon would be a mega story, especially if Bonds, and some of the other guys didn’t get it, although they are the ones facing the most legal woes.

  • Ed

    I don’t think a pardon would end it. The Clemens / McNamee fight won’t end unless either Clemens admits McNamee is right, or they both get pardoned.

    Clemens and McNamee both come across as a little crazy here, and neither side’s story completely fits. I don’t think either one of them is giving up as long as they have something to lose.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    I love the fact that the Clemens/underage ad is right below this post.

    That said, honestly, I’d be okay with a pardon. His reputation’s already suffered enough, and I can’t imagine what his kids are going through.

    • dan

      The ad software here uses keywords from the post to provide relevant ads, it’s not a coincidence.

      And I don’t think I’d be ok with a pardon if he’s convicted. I’m not sure I want him to be convicted in the first place though. If he’s pardoned, it’s solely because he’s a star. He’s getting special treatment that not all Americans will get. If he’s convicted (and I have no idea if he should be or not), then he should have to serve the punishment.

      • Old Ranger

        Using your guidelines, if one gives money for a pardon or one is very rich would you not say they are also getting special treatment?
        Your 1st two lines (of the last parg), I agree with…it’s done and over with, congress should just leave it alone.

        • dan

          How do you give money for a pardon? If you’re talking about a bribe that’s obviously not ok. If you’re rich you’re not getting special treatment either– I dont understand what ur saying

    • dave

      You’re right Rebecca. Those kids will never have to work a day in their lives, and doors will open for them just on name alone.

      Poor, poor kids.

  • RollingWave

    “despite putting up the most daunting numbers of any pitcher in his lifetime.”

    PRAR (according to BP)

    Clemens: 2043

    Maddux: 1707

    Cy fucking Young: 1942

    Lefty Grove : 1431

    Walter Freaking Johnson: 1946

    Grove ZOMG Cleveland Alexander : 1493


    Statistically, a very very VERY convincing argument can be made that Clemens wasn’t just the best pitcher in his life time, he was the best pitcher…. ALL TIME.

  • RollingWave

    As for this entire witchhunt, the damage has already been done, but if I were a voter, I’d still unquestionablly vote in just about all of the so called roiders who’s stats were convincing enough.

  • drew

    I hope he pardons both rocket and bonds, free up some time for congress and the supreme court to worry about more pressing issues than PED’s. Besides if nothing else it will help us get past the BS that Selig allowed.

  • al

    i was in grand rapids mi.. watching the game that the umps made the rocket take off his 300 club glove.. my gf was pissed but i made her watch until clemens got 300.. god i miss a WOMAN that will put up with me and the yanks..

  • Ben

    Clemens will not be pardoned. First of all, He had not been convicted of anything. Many of the Presidential pardons are commutes of sentences, ending a persons “punishment”. If Bush pardons Clemens of what he has not been convicted for, it will only raise questinos of guilt.

  • JeffG

    I’ve posted some of this before but made some tweaks:

    Undoubtedly For the past couple of years I have tried to ignore the steroid conversation as it has distracted too many from the simple game of baseball. Sad as it was, half of baseball’s coverage in 2007 was dedicated to the subject of steroids rather than the actual game. But now that it is subsiding, perhaps it is something that should be discussed openly and truthfully – without the knee-jerk, good guy, bad-guy mentality – and hopefully with some common sense.

    From the late 80’s until 2000-whatever players where doing nothing different as they bent the rules in any way they could to their team the win. That is really the history of baseball – is it not? That is competition. There was a long day ago when the curveball was ungentlemanly. A stolen base is stolen. We’ve all seen guys try to sneak down to first when they knew they were out. To a degree cheating has always been a part of the game. You can think of scuffed balls, corked bats, spitters and Vaseline under the cap, stolen signs, and speed – the first of the PEDs to be widely used.

    There are many examples in our game of players looking to get an edge even if that edge is a little dirty. So why are steroids so much worse? I’d guess it’s because steroids changed the game so much. They challenged our sense of history and what a great player was capable of. Steroids pumped up the numbers. But why, and why for so long? The reason was because there was a blind eye as most fans liked what they saw. They loved the numbers until the argument was raised that what they were seeing was a cheat. I think people were fine with the home runs, and the super play. However, in the end, their heroes were vilified. Their favorite players became bad guys and so they felt wronged.

    However, we have to consider that it was not an anomaly, it was, a large part of the game. And to the rule – players have always been given leeway. And in this case, I’d say they surely were for some time.

    So when do we condemn? My belief is that it happened when the commissioner’s office and the union said enough is enough. Before that, players were doing all they could for their teams, and surely for themselves. Understanding that, do you not convict the culture and what was allowed? Do you not get angry that there was no testing policy?

    There is where I have a problem. There is where I find fault in stripping individuals who still rose above their era. How do you deny them for what they accomplished?

    No one knows the percent of players that used drugs to enhance their ability. But everyone knows that there was a good many that did. Perhaps a majority, and undoubtedly, at the time, nobody did anything about it.

    However, once the cleanup began it was easy to find examples and ultimately scapegoats – the best players of that era. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa- who probably would not have passed 61; Barry Bonds – who may have never passed Hank; Roger Clemens – who would not have finished with 354 wins.

    Do we really strip them? We’ve already taken the game away from the last two. But are we so blind, not to see that it was allowed? Are we not to blame baseball? I personally will never doubt the talent of all three mentioned. But I will doubt the logic that picks and chooses history when it never had a set date.

    Roger and Barry will probably see their day in court, but a blind jury is what they will truly have, but it will not be to their gain.

  • Jake H

    I think congress should look at getting the economy back on track not going after Clemens or any other high profile athlete who might or might not have used roids. Why don’t they spend their time fixing medicare, social security or figuring out how to create jobs. These congress men and women just wanted to get thir names out there. They want to use a celebrity to gain favor with the media by going after these athletes. It’s pretty pathetic.

  • Hawkins44

    Pardon them both…and Tejada…. and be done with it….

  • Pablo Zevallos

    I don’t think Clemens can be pardoned; he hasn’t been convicted of anything. Regardless, if he does it, the powers of the presidential pardon need to be addressed after Marc Rich and (hypothetically) Clemens.

  • ortforshort

    Unfortunately the whole era is tainted by steroids. It was a sign of the times. Clemens, McGuire, Sosa, Canseco, Caminiti, Bonds and many others were only doing what was fairly normal for the times. Also, these substances weren’t specifically banned by baseball during the era, altho’ they were illegal, in some cases, generally. You would probably only have a handful of players in the Hall of Famer if you banned everyone who ingested illegal substances. Alcohol in the Twenties. Pot, coke and amphetemines in the Sixties thru Eighties. On top of that other eras have been tainted by the exclusion of blacks and latinos and the depletion of talent by wars. What all this adds up to, to me, is that I personally pardon all of these guys because they were a product of their times and Clemens and Bonds belong in the Hall of Fame because they were great players relative to their times. However, I would take their lifetime stats with a big grain of salt because they obviously prolonged their productive careers many years well into their Forties by their use of steroids, but they were still great players.

  • D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a The Last Don

    “part of me thinks the health of baseball and the continued success of the game would benefit from the opportunity to put the Steroid Era behind us once and for all.”

    All of me thinks that. But we can not do that because WE ARE STILL IN THE STEROID ERA.

    Just because one guy put out a list that outed just a small percent of the guys who they caught, or had some evidence of does not make the problem go away.

    I saw we keep beating on this issue until the players want to make sure their game is clean. This problem could be controlled by the players themselves and their union.

    • Hawkins44

      I agree with you..but the numbers sure don’t support your statement. Power is way down even in the small parks like Comiskey and Coors…

  • pounder

    This is more about why Clemens and Pettitte chose to leave the Yankees.They must have felt,or were warned that the steroid situation could possibly become toxic. To address that ominous event they chose to go to Texas,where that renowned and respected baseball figure,Boy George hailed from,and would provide these two’ good ole boys’ with a pardon,when W’s time thankfully reaches an end.

  • Joseph M

    I don’t know how many of you have heard Chris Rock’s bit about rich and weathy. The players are rich the owners are weathy. What rock has Congress been hiding under with respect to going after the owners of the franchises that saw the value of their franchises skyrocket, built regional sports networks, and bilked cities from one end of the country to the other out of billions to build largely unnecessary new stadiums all on the back of the resurgence of the sport that was fueled to a large extent on the super accomplishments of the steroid era.

    When we see the owners being hammered the same way Bonds and Clemens are being hammered then we can take all these criminal charges more seriously, until then, pardon Clemens and Bonds and let’s see if Congress can find something else to do with their time.

  • Mike Masnick

    He can’t be pardoned for a variety of reasons. A few others pointed it out, but he hasn’t been convicted of anything, so there’s nothing to pardon.

    Not only that, but presidential pardons can only be done for someone who was convicted 5 or more years ago… and for someone who has shown remorse for what they’ve done (though, that’s up to the president to decide). They can commute the sentence for someone earlier, but that’s not the same as a pardon.

    Whoever is floating the idea that Bush will “pardon” Clemens doesn’t understand the law concerning presidential pardons. There’s nothing to pardon Clemens for since there’s no conviction, and even if there was there would need to be a 5 year wait, by which time (as we all know) Bush is no longer president.

  • Peter

    ok first of all George Bush is a total jackass…and he’s done at high noon Tuesday. I highly doubt a pardon would come because W is a fan of baseball and all it would do is make Clemens look guilty (guiltier) and just add another cow patty to W’s legacy. We all know Clemens is guilty and Bonds, Big Mac Sammy etc as well…don’t we??? But Congress will drag baseball through the mud. Just ignore and think of Opening Day it’ll feel better. Go Yankees!!!!

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Congress didn’t regulate Wall Street but its got its nose in baseball players and steroids. I can’t imagine why there is a financial crisis (for everyone except baseball players.)