Roger Clemens walked out of a Washington courtroom a free man earlier this week, as a jury ruled him not guilty of perjuring himself in front of Congress about taking performance enhancing drugs. In front of a heaving throng of press he thanked his supporters and his family. He reminded everyone that it takes a lot of hard work to have a career like his (those Steroids dont lift the weights on their own!) and could barely finish his statement because he was either legitimately choked up, or he was still fighting the effects of giving the twins a pre-verdict liniment basting.
All things considered, a great day for the man formerly known as the Rocket. He fought the law and he won.
And much like championship ball games, in high-profile, hyper-publicized court cases, where there is a big winner, there is a big loser. Who is my choice to wear the goat horns?
Look no further than self-styled paragon of all things virtuous, Andy Pettitte.
If you believe the press clippings, Andy Pettitte is the Ivory soap of professional sports, 99-and-44100-percent pure. Pettitte himself has never been shy about plugging his own moral credentials. Heres an excerpt from Angelic Andys book Strike Zone: Targeting a Life of Integrity and Purity: As a Christian I also have one goal. I want to fulfill God's purpose for my life. I constantly ask myself "What does God want me to do?" Saint Pettitte didnt just go on any old TV show to pitch his tome either; he was a guest on the 700 Club. If there is a Soul Train for the God Squad, Pat Robertson is hosting it, and you dont get on that show unless Pat thinks he could accept a sacrament off your ass.
Its this kind of squeaky clean resume that made him the Star Witness for the Government in its case against his former best friend. Clemens and Pettitte were both named in the Mitchell Report and Pettitte and Clemens both used the ultra-sketchy Brian McNamee as their Strength and Conditioning trainer. So when it became obvious that McNamee would have serious credibility issues in front of a jury, the Government turned to the morally impeccable Pettitte. And, because presumably, God wanted him to, Andy rolled on his buddy when subpoenaed for testimony by congress. "Roger told me he had used it(HGH) and it helped him with recovery (after workouts)." It was that statement and Pettittes unassailable character that allowed this case to not only progress beyond a grand jury, but hopefully would lead Roger to the perp walk so many were craving.
When Pettitte, currently a starting pitcher for the Yankees, walked to the witness stand on May 2nd, the Government thought it had a closer for its case against the Rocket. Andy sold out his own father, so nailing Clemens seemed like a forgone conclusion. But unfortunately for the Government and bloodthirsty Clemens haters everywhere, when Pettitte put his hand on the Bible, God must have wanted Andy to be an acrobat, because his testimony flipped like a member of Cirque du Soleil. When asked by the defense if he would categorize his famous HGH statement as "50-50 you might have misunderstood?" Andy said: "I'd say that's fair." Going .500 might be good enough for your 2012 Boston Red Sox but for a jury, its all they needed to hear to hand the Rocket the most important decision of his career.
You want to blame someone for wasting your tax dollars on a hopeless prosecution? Blame Pettitte. You want to blame someone for letting Clemens grandstand in triumph? Blame Pettitte. You want to blame someone for this case ending in a way only Suzyn Waldman could love? Blame Pettitte.
Instead of the Clemens legacy getting an indelible black mark in the annals of baseball history, it was the legend of Andy Pettitte as a moral oak that is debunked for all to see. That narrative is destined to end up next to the Andy Pettitte that only did steroids once: filed away in the fiction section. As far as Pettittes book goes, it can stay in the non-fiction wing for now. But Id recommend a new title for the paperback version
Strike Zone: Targeting a Life of Integrity and Purity with 50 accuracy