Question of the day: Is Roger Clemens guilty or being unfairly prosecuted, and if guilty, what should his punishment be? [Updated]
Reporters from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in our poll and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Bill Kline, The Morning Call
Roger Clemens is Exhibit No. 1,754 of arrogant athletes who think they can roughshod their way through their pampered lives.
It’s one thing to lie to the media or public; it’s quite another to “misremember” when testifying before Congress, which has the FBI as its enforcer. And do not confuse these G-men with the ones, say, in San Francisco. FBI agents will hunt you down and jack you up harder than a 1986 Clemens fastball to the chin.
There is little doubt that the Rocket pumped illegal fuel. (And the prosecution was as fair and true as a home run to dead center. Congressmen had even warned him about lying.)
For punishment, Clemens should get 15 months in prison, one year as a middle reliever for the Pittsburgh Pirates and then face the firing squad: five blindfolded at-bats with a snarling Mike Piazza on the pitching mound.
Dom Amore, Hartford Courant
We live under a system of innocent until proved guilty. It shouldn't need to be said, but because of the age in which we live, it must be said up front. The court of public opinion has just about overtaken everything else.
Full disclosure: I do believe Clemens used PEDs. His denials are not credible.
He should be prosecuted because lying under oath is a crime; tolerance of it undermines what's left of our system. And, if he is telling the truth, if, as Clemens says, he never used steroids or HGH, he should welcome another day in court.
The penalty? It should be a hefty fine with lots of community service. He should talk to high schools all over the country to warn kids to stay off PEDs. Jail time would serve no purpose and, really, not fit the crime. He didn't drive under the influence, steal or commit a violent crime.
One Clemens statement is irrefutable: Using PEDs is a "self-imposed" sentence. That sentence was imposed the day the Mitchell Report was released, and Clemens has been serving it. His sterling reputation is shattered, humiliating details of his personal life are out there and his Hall of Fame chances have gone from slam-dunk to long shot. That's a pretty stiff sentence, right there.
[Updated at 1:35 p.m.:
Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times
The notion that Clemens is being unfairly prosecuted is laughable. Clemens practically prosecuted himself. He was not the only player to take exception to his inclusion in the Mitchell Report. He was, however, the only player to mount a full-scale attack on the report, which had been all but commissioned by Congress. With legislators leaning so hard on Bud Selig he almost fell over, the commissioner turned to a most favored alumnus of Congress, George Mitchell. So when Clemens basically called Mitchell a liar, Congress invited Clemens to testify, under oath. Congress handed Clemens the rope, and Clemens hung himself with it, at least based on the perjury indictment.
Perjury is notoriously difficult to prove. The prosecution must show not that Clemens used steroids or HGH but that he knowingly lied when he denied that drug use. Clemens could say he "misremembered," and that might be enough to escape conviction, if the feds have no better evidence to offer than Andy Pettitte's recollections. If he is convicted, though, he absolutely should go to prison. The time for 'fessing up and making amends by sponsoring a couple Little League clinics has long since passed.]