When my partner was still here at the juiceblog, I tried to stay away from writing about alleged steroid users. Since Will was the biggest expert on the subject, me weighing in on steroids would have been like me going to this site to break down hairy homos. It was not difficult for me to ignore the steroid topic, since I have never felt too strongly against someone using them. Athletes are always looking for an edge. Considering there was no test for performance enhancing drugs, I had a pretty libertairian view on the subject. There was always one guy, though, that seemed more obvious than anyone to be a PED user.
Now if you think I’m talking about Barry Bonds, I’m not. Since most of the collective baseball world has focused their spite on him, I’ve never wanted to join that lynch mob. Yeah, I will buy that Bonds would never have broken Hank Aaron record without PED’s. This still doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have ended up one of the greatest players of all-time. Who knows if Aaron ever breaks Ruth’s homerun number or if Pete Rose knocks Cobb from the all-time hit king mantle, without popping greenies like they were Spree? As usual, put me in the cynic category.
Much of the hatred of Bonds has been centered on him being a douchebag. Well, it ain’t like Roger Clemens doesn’t have the scent of Summer’s Eve wafting off of him when he strolls by. While Bonds has been almost the sole focus of the media’s glare on the subject, a very suspect Clemens has been climbing the all-time greats chart, without much scrutiny. While he was lucky enough to not be connected to BALCO, Clemens’ recent playing history seems at least, if not more questionable than Bonds’ does.
One of the best writers around, Seth Mnookin, mentioned this same thing in a short piece he wrote at his blog in April. Mnookin gets to the core of what I’ve always thought about Clemens’ more recent resurgence. One of the issues that Bonds’ haters always discuss is the growth of this head. Mnookin links a before and after picture of Clemens that is just as damning. I mean I haven’t seen a head that began in Boston grow this much since Ted Kennedy. (young or bloated)
I take my hat off to Clemens (I would actually offer it to him, but it wouldn’t fit), as he has been brilliant in the way he has not gotten caught. He reminds me of another Texas golden boy, Lance Armstrong, as they have both been able to masterfully cover their tracks. If they used performance enhancers or not, they deserve a ton of respect for what they’ve accomplished, as they were just doing what was neccessary to win.
As Robert Palmer wrote, Might as well face it your addicted to love….no, wait a minute, wrong song...As Robert Palmer sang, some guys have all the luck, some guys get all the breaks. Of course for every Armstrong or Clemens there is always a Floyd Landis or Jason Grimsley, who were more reckless, knowing they can’t just rely on natural talent to succeed.
Many have pointed to Clemens’ off the charts resurgence being because he takes extra time off to recharge his batteries. I agree this has played a factor, but my hypotheis is more cynical about why the llonger ayoffs. Think about it. What better way to rebuild yourself than to put a few additives in your engine, especially when you have a couple of extra months to flush them out of your system? If teams want you badly enough that they will pay you 18 million a year for just 4 months, the process seems to be perfectly constructed.
Now I know what I’m writing has elements of conspiracy theory to it. Sure to some I must sound like if Gary Thorne was hosting Art Bell’s radio show. Well, the rumors have circulated for a long time on the subject of Clemens and I think if Bonds’ has had to receive such a massive level of scrutiny, Clemens deserves a little more thrown at his head. (you know, like the Rocket would toss at Mike Piazza.) My guess is that Clemens will regret sigining with the Yankees, as the mix of American League hitters and the tough New York press will be a lot more challenging than life in Houston.