As all of you have probably heard by now, Roger Clemens has again reiterated to Bernardo Fallas of USA Today that he doesn’t anticipate coming back to Major League Baseball in 2012.
If he isn’t coming back this year, he probably won’t come back next year, and I think that this is a good time to look at the legacy that Clemens will leave behind.
First of all, he will leave behind his impressive record on the mound. In 24 major-league seasons, Clemens went 354-184. While pitching almost entirely in the American League except for a three seasons with the Houston Astros, his overall career ERA is equally as impressive at 3.12.
This performance was appreciated by the various groups of voters as he won seven Cy Young awards, one MVP and made 11 All-Star appearances. He won 20 games or more on six different occasions and is third all-time with his 4672 strikeouts.
He made his final major league appearance with the New York Yankees in 2007, and we were all waiting to see how the Hall of Fame would handle his fate.
With numbers like that, he is definitely eligible for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. However, because of the performance-enhancing drug scandal that has ensnared so many people, his future among the baseball elite is in jeopardy.
In a legal sense, Roger Clemens is perfectly clean. He took the stand and said that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs. He was charged with lying to the court but then found not guilty on all six charges.
Therefore, in the opinion of the Court, if he did not lie when he said that he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs, you could draw the similar conclusion that he was telling the truth and consequently did not use performance-enhancing drugs.
However, that hasn’t been nearly enough to sweep the cloud away from his record. There are many people who still believe that Clemens was lying. Check out this article from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times.
In that article, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports was quoted in a way that I think is representative of quite a few writers who will vote to determine Clemens’ fate.
“It doesn’t move me an inch,” Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports said of the verdict. “Whether or not the government could prove its case, it doesn’t change the facts the way I see them. I won’t vote for anyone I believe took steroids or performance-enhancers, and so I won’t vote for Clemens.”
Whether or not this is a fair assessment, I think that this is the ultimate legacy that Clemens will leave behind. He was an amazing pitcher who had a long and productive career, but because of the huge shadow that performance-enhancing drug use has cast over his career, his successes will be minimized in the public view and he will ultimately not end up in the Hall of Fame.