By Daniel I. Dorfman–
(WSCR) What happened in the Roger Clemens case yesterday was probably right. I’m not an attorney, but everything I have read from people who are familiar with the law, makes me believe the government prosecutors really screwed up by showing a video to the jury that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton had instructed them not to show. So the judge declared a mistrial and Clemens may not have to face a second trial since double jeopardy could come into play. We should be happy that there is a legal system that protects the defendants (especially those who have money), but besides Clemens, there is no one who should feel all that great about this latest turn of events.
Clemens may never go to trial again and could walk away without criminal punishment, even though his statements under oath to Congress in 2008, that he never took steroids, were in direct contradiction of the testimony of teammate Andy Pettite. Is lying under oath a major crime? Just ask Martha Stewart. But unlike everybody’s favorite homemaker, it looks like Clemens just might get away with it.
The other major court case involved with the “Steroids Era” involved Barry Bonds, baseball’s single season and all-time home run king. Bonds was convicted earlier this year on one count and had a hung jury on others. What kind of punishment awaits for Bonds remains to be seen.
So in other words, a lot of taxpayer dollars have been spent with very little to show for it.
Yes there are far greater problems facing our country right now than whether some baseball players used performance enhancing drugs. But we still have the issue that baseball – the sport where yearly and career statistics are more important and revered than any other sport – has a record book filled with statistical mirages. It would be nice to see people held accountable for not playing within the rules, but that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.
To some extent, players like Bonds, Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others have been convicted in the court of public opinion and their standing will never be the same, and none of them may ever make the Hall of Fame. At the same time, they also made millions of dollars while breaking the rules. Not a bad tradeoff.
When Rod Blagojevich (or any other Illinois Governor for that matter) was convicted, there was the inevitable talk about sending a clear message about impropriety not being tolerated. Unfortunately, for those players in the “Steroid Era,” that message is less than clear.
Roger Clemens lived the American Dream. He grew up to play baseball, won two World Series and seven Cy Young Awards and along the way made millions. Yesterday, he learned that the American justice system is set up to protect the defendant, and it came through for him. In the law school or civics classroom, that is a good thing. But getting away with blatantly cheating and committing a crime should not make anyone happy.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.