The Mitchell report came out last week, naming a bunch of players that took steroids or human growth hormone (HGH) over the past ten years or so. Nobody was mentioned in the report more than Barry Bonds (to nobody’s surprise), but Roger Clemens was a close second. This was a bit of a surprise to me, though I don’t know why. He is also a player whose career started to wane a little bit and then he had a great resurgence and is still excelling well into his 40’s. Maybe it’s because when you think of steroids, you think of a bulky hitter smashing 500-foot home runs, not a pitcher. Part of me thinks that you have to wonder about a power pitcher who can still hit 95 mph when he’s 45, but if that’s the case, you also have to wonder about Nolan Ryan, who was also able to throw in the high 90’s well into his 40’s. Was he juiced? My immediate reaction is “No, he wasn’t on the juice! He’s Nolan freakin’ Ryan!”, but why couldn’t he have been? Say it ain’t so, Nolan! (Note that I’m not saying that Ryan was using steroids, just that the assumption that he wasn’t might be naïve.)
Roger’s good friend and teammate Andy Pettitte was also mentioned in the report, but his situation is very different from Roger’s:
- Clemens used steroids and HGH for at least three years. He has since denied the allegations despite the bucketloads of evidence in the Mitchell report.
- Pettitte took HGH (no steroids) for two days in 2002 while recovering from an injury. He has since admitted his usage and apologized.
In Pettitte’s press release, he admitted to using the HGH, but only twice over two days, and only because he was trying to recover from tendonitis in his elbow. He was so uncomfortable about using it (despite the fact that it was legal and not even banned by MLB at the time) that he stopped.
While I think that what Pettitte did was wrong, he’s admitted what he did and apologized for it, and you have to respect him for that. Clemens, who would have to work pretty hard to earn my respect based on history, continues to deny everything, perhaps hoping that people will just forget about it. I think he might find that at Hall of Fame voting time, people won’t forget.
It seems ironic that if you go purely by statistics, the three players currently not in the Hall of Fame who most deserve to be there are Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds. But the HoF is more than just statistics and if you include everything else, none of the three of them deserves to be there.