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Serious Misfire by the “Rocket”    Share

19 August 2010

In a surprise announcement today, former Major League Pitcher Roger Clemens has been indicted by federal prosecutors on six counts of charges to include obstruction of Congress, making false statements, and perjury.  I’ll defer to a lawyer to articulate the difference between making false statements and perjury, but suffice it to say that Clemens is in some pretty big trouble with the law.

Nicknamed the “Rocket” because of his blazing fastballs, Clemens is one of the most recognizable and successful pitchers in baseball history.  He won seven Cy Young awards, is third on the all-time strikeout list, and is ninth on the all-time wins list.  Clemens pitched most of his career for the Boston Red Sox, but he also played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees with whom he won two World Series Championships.  Clemens last pitched in 2007 with the Yankees.

The charges stem from the fall-out of an investigation in 2007 by former Senator George Mitchell into the extent of steroid and human growth hormone (HGH) use in baseball.  Mitchell’s report came out in December 2007 and listed Clemens as one of the professional athletes that used steroids and HGH during his playing career.  The most damning indictments came from Clemens’s former trainer, Brian McNamee, who told the Mitchell investigators that Clemens had used steroids.  His former teammate and Yankee pitcher Andy Pettite also testified that Clemens used HGH.  Clemens denied all of these allegations when the Mitchell report was published and continued to deny them during testimony before Congress in 2008.

The wheels of justice appear to be turning fairly slowly, but to Clemens’s detriment, they are turning nonetheless.  US Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. issued a statement after the charges were announced in which he said that “our government cannot function if witnesses are not held accountable for false statements made before Congress. Today the message is clear: if a witness makes a choice to ignore his or her obligation to testify honestly, there will be consequences.”  We’ll see what the consequences might be when Clemens goes to trial later this year or early next year.  He’ll be joined in March by baseball’s all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds, who faces similar charges due to his alleged steroid use prior to his retirement from baseball. 

Clemens is a pretty disliked man by many in baseball and this announcement will only enlarge that crowd.  Boston Red Sox fans hate him because he left the team and eventually signed with their archrival, the New York Yankees.  Lots of baseball fans hate him because he acted like a prima donna in the final years of his playing days, only coming to the ballpark on the days he pitched and opting out of team road trips.  Others despise him because of some alleged affairs that he has had over the years, the most notable with country music singer Mindy McCready.  Personally, I just don’t like him because he couldn’t face the music and admit that he used performance enhancing drugs and instead smeared his accusers as liars.  Maybe the truth will all surface when he goes to trial sometime over the next year.

One-liner:  “Looks like the Rocket is going to crash pretty hard!”

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The Basics

Baseball is  has been labeled "America's Pastime" because during the late 19th and early 20th century it was the most widely played sport in the country. More...


Win (for a pitcher):  A pitcher must complete five innings of pitching and his team must be leading when he exits for him to get a win.  A pitcher with 15 wins in a season is doing well; 20 wins is the recognized plateau of excellence.

ERA:  Earned Run Average.  A statistic which measures how many runs a pitcher averages surrendering to opposing teams based on pitching nine innings.  For instance, a pitcher with an ERA of 2.00 would on average give up 2 runs over the course of 9 innings.  ERA’s are always measured to the hundredths.  An ERA of under 3.00 is considered good.  An ERA under 2.00 is excellent and only a handful of pitchers are able to sustain an ERA under 2.00 for an entire season.

Pinch Hit:  when a player that did not start the game comes in to bat for a player that did start the game. 

Batting Average:   How often a player gets a hit.  Batting average is calculated by dividing the number of hits by total chances to hit.   If a player walks or is hit by a pitch, such actions are not counted as a chance to hit in calculating the batting average.  A .300 batting average (getting a hit 30% of the time) is considered to be above average for a MLB player.

Mendoza Line:  A euphemism for a .200 batting average.  The term came from a reference to Mario Mendoza, a light hitting infielder in the 1970s that usually batted around .200.  A player that is hitting around the Mendoza Line is lucky to still have a job in the Major Leagues.

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