Roger Clemens is a Douchebag
On Saturday, I heard the news – as part of the Jason Grimsley investigation (which I had thought had suspiciously died a quiet death), several previously redacted names were released. Among them were Miguel Tejada and Andy Pettitte, but the big name, of course, was Roger Clemens.
If you know me (and I assume you do), you will know that there is pretty much no one in sports that I loathe more than “the Rocket.” And yet, I do respect that he’s clearly the most dominant pitcher of my generation. Being a Giants fan and learning to reconcile these things with Barry Bonds even prior to any steroid allegations, helped pave the road for this.
Ah, Bonds. I’ll get to him later and why I’m even writing this, but first let’s break down why I hate Clemens.
- He totally screwed over Boston, after coasting for four years. I can’t explain it, but after the Giants, I’ve been a Red Sox fan for pretty much forever. And watching Clemens sit back, get fat, and coast from 1993-1996 made me think he was done. And there was no shame in that, because he’d had a sick career until then. But seeing what he’s done since then? Well, let’s put it this way – Clemens can either claim he was coasting, or hiding an injury, because there’s only one other explanation…the one perhaps explained in the Grimsley affidavit.
- He’s a wussy who wants to pretend to be tough. Clemens is the classic bully (sharing this with our Commander-in-Chief, by the way, who I’m sure he voted for twice) – he’s not tough, but he wants to act that way. Whether it’s throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza, throwing at batters indiscriminately or wearing eye black to the mound, Clemens talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. I’d honestly have more respect for him if he’d actually charged at Piazza or done something besides try to act tough without having to back it up.
- He’s the ultimate hired gun. At this point, I honestly think I’ll remember Clemens for how he reacted to the Grimsley steroid rumor – he stated that if he cost him a single endorsement, he’d sue. That’s Clemens for you – just in it for the money. That’s why he left for Toronto, then screwed them over to go to the Yankees. It’s why he tied Houston’s hands this off-season, creating a no-win situation where they had to pay him ungodly sums for two thirds of a season. It’s why he had special gloves made to wear during his 300th win – so he could sell them for profit. Understand, this is a guy who probably makes $30 million a year with salary and endorsements. What’s enough? Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with capitalism, but what does this guy stand for? The Hall of Fame now will choose your uniform for you when you enter, so that you don’t pull a Dave Winfield and sell that right as a free agent. (I’m sure Clemens is crushed by this, by the way.) But who does the Hall choose in five-plus years? The Red Sox? Toronto? Houston? New York? Not a single good choice in there, though I’m sure they’ll end up with the Red Sox.
- His kids names all begin with K, the symbol for a strikeout. Hey, self-obsessed much?
I should point out that in his epic column, I hate you, Roger Clemens, Seth Stevenson said half of this better than I have. Money quotes:
But here's the real problem with your behavior: Fans like to think that players are giving it their all. All the time. I like to think that, anyway. But then I'm just a simple, good-hearted man, a man who wants to believe in heroes. How can I believe in heroes, Mr. Clemens, when the world is home to people like you? It's clear that you just try hard when you feel like it. And even then, only when there's nothing on the line. Well, that sucks, dude. You shouldn't be like that.
I'd like to add that it's not just me. Nobody likes you. It's just a matter of degree—of how much we hate you. Personally, I measure my hate in terms of how severely I want you to be injured. Like, I guess I wouldn't want to see you crippled for life, so you couldn't walk anymore. But I really wouldn't mind if you pulled your groin and missed five starts. That's the over-under on my hate.
Now, here’s what REALLY gets me. I’ve heard or read at least five stories since last Saturday which gave purported reasons why Clemens won’t get the same kind of treatment that Bonds continues to receive. The only acceptable one of those is that Clemens will almost assuredly retire this off-season, making it harder to keep his name in the spotlight, while Bonds continues to play. Fine. But aside from that, there’s an almost pathetic attempt to explain why we shouldn’t paint Clemens with the same brush we’ve used for Bonds.
I heard Dan Levitard, filling in for Tony Kornheiser on PTI, say that Clemens won’t get that treatment because "we like Clemens." I think he thought he was speaking for the public, but if he was speaking for anyone, it was the sports media. Because I don’t know a single person who likes Clemens. Sure, they might not loathe him with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, but who likes this guy?
Levitard also said there was far less circumstantial evidence pointing Clemens to steroid usage. Um…really?
Let’s look closer.
- After a prolonged period of mediocrity, Clemens rebounded to pitch as well as he ever had – historically good, in fact – late in his career. In fact, the years we could point to – 1996 forward – are traditionally thought of as ‘prime steroid time,’ at least when talking about Bonds.
- Steroids are useful in sports for a variety of reasons, but one is because the healing process from injury, or trauma of any sort, is greatly reduced by using steroids. There is no better candidate to need this kind of help than an aging slugger, or a starting pitcher. The trauma pitching causes to an arm is gigantic, and gets worse over time.
- I don’t know about you, but throwing a broken bat at a hitter sounds like Roid Rage to me.
- He’s been linked to steroid rumors for years, though few – even being named in Jose Canseco’s book – have gained any traction. With Bonds, I heard one constant – where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Well, there’s smoke here.
- His resurgence started when he was 35.
- He’s gained at least as much weight in his upper body and head as Barry Bonds, and has hair loss as well. People talk about his great weight training, but he doesn’t look fit, just beefy.
Look, I could go on here. It’s impossible to prove that he did steroids, but it’s not impossible to suggest he’s a candidate for having done them. To give him a free pass has to invite the question on WHY he deserves such a free pass. I hate to even suggest it’s race, but I’m not sure what else would warrant such an obvious distinction. These are both world class talents and world class jerks. They both should be first ballot Hall of Famers, and are the respective hitter and pitcher of the last 25 years or so. What’s the difference here?
Note that there have been several calls to investigate Clemens or to hold him to this same level – but as of yet, I don’t see it.