The most undercovered aspect of the Roger Clemens love-in, 2007 edition

April 10th, 2007 → 9:48 am @ // 20 Comments

Yesterday, the Globe ran an article in which David Ortiz stood up for Sammy Sosa, his fellow Dominican slugger. Buried in the piece was this quote:

“It doesn’t matter what people say. People say [Roger] Clemens used steroids, people say Mark McGwire used steroids. People say a whole bunch of players used steroids, but nobody can prove that, you know what I’m saying?”

What’s notable (to me, anyway), is how few people actually asking whether Clemens’s remarkable endurance (some would say resurgence) is due to some kind of PED. After all, it’s not like there’s any shortage of red flags. Clemens is arguably one of two players — the second being Barry Bonds* — whose Hall of Fame career was (is) capped (being capped) by his most dominant years coming after the age of 35. Clemens has had four seasons in which his ERA+ has been more than 195…and two of those came in 2005 and 2006, when he was 42 and 43 years old. And the only other time in which Clemens put up three years in a row with ERA+ of more than 145 — as he’s done in the last three years — were from 1990 to 1992, when he was still in his twenties.

Over the last year, more people have started to question Clemens’s remarkable run, but even after the mini-imbroglio involving Clemens and the Grimsley affidavit, the vast majority of folks — fans, sportswriters, and team executives, and MLB officials — prefer to stick with their see-no-evil approach and hope the Rocket keeps on bringing fans to the ballpark. Look, I hope he’s not using as much as the next guy. But I wish more people found it fit to find out the truth.
* And for all those fun side-by-side photo comparisons of Barry from his days with the Pirates and now, doesn’t Roger’s body (and head) look a lot different from the days when he was pitching for the Sox?


Post Categories: Roger Clemens & Steroids

20 Comments → “The most undercovered aspect of the Roger Clemens love-in, 2007 edition”


  1. Mr. Furious

    10 years ago

    It never escaped me. I think the parallel between Clemens and Bonds is pretty much impossible to ignore.

    Makes you wonder why the scrutiny has never been applied to Clemens…Is it a pitcher/hitter thing? A black/white thing? It’s not like Clemens hasn’t made a career pissing off reporters and putting his foot in his mouth…

    I suspect writers have too much invested in declaring Clemens “the greatest pitcher alive” to look too hard at him.

    Every year I wonder whether he will be smart enough to retire with his legacy intact or come back one more time and get nailed like Palmiero.

    We’ll see.

    Reply

  2. MarshallDog

    10 years ago

    I think Clemens doesn’t get the same scrutiny because he’s not going after any memorable records. Barry Bonds is stealing the most cherished record in all of sports away from one of the game’s beloved figures. Even if Clemens were close enough to make a run at some of the big pitching records, would anyone really care half as much? Look at other guys suspected of using… like Jason Giambi (I’m being generous by using “suspected”). Sure, he’s big and hitting monster home runs, but he doesn’t get the same kind of attention because he’s never been after any records.

    Reply
  3. […] As we prepare for the annual Somebody Ask Roger Clemens To The Prom sweepstakes, Seth Mnookin reminds everyone that Clemens is pretty much as tied to steroid rumors as Barry Bonds is. What’s notable (to me, anyway), is how few people actually asking whether Clemens’ remarkable endurance (some would say resurgence) is due to some kind of PED. After all, it’s not like there’s any shortage of red flags. Clemens is arguably one of two players — the second being Barry Bonds — whose Hall of Fame career was (is) capped (being capped) by his most dominant years coming after the age of 35. … Over the last year, more people have started to question Clemens’s remarkable run, but even after the mini-imbroglio involving Clemens and the Grimsley affidavit, the vast majority of folks — fans, sportswriters, and team executives, and MLB officials — prefer to stick with their see-no-evil approach and hope the Rocket keeps on bringing fans to the ballpark. […]

    Reply

  4. sonofhamulack

    10 years ago

    Seth, some day you’ll have kids and be over 40 and the side-by-side photo comparisons won’t be flattering either.

    Take a look at Teddy Kenedy side-by-side… does Chivas Regal count as a PED?

    Reply

  5. caleb

    10 years ago

    Here’s a question:

    Is it possible that Roger has been sitting out most of the last few seasons as a way of avoiding drug testing? So he trains his ass off and pumps himself with steroids early enough to avoid detection?

    And along the same lines — Is it all all curious that Sammy Sosa “retires” for a year and then comes back relatively fresh? During the ESPN Sunday Night game Joe Morgan brought up the fact that coming back after an entire year off is quite an achievement….

    I’m assuming that MLB’s drug testing can’t extend to players who have “retired” or not signed contracts…..

    Reply

  6. tinisoli

    10 years ago

    The understandable suspicion that Clemens is a juicer is the #1 reason to not have him back in Boston. Any team can end up getting burned and tainted when a present or former player’s steroid use is revealed. And it may be naive to assume that any championship team of the last twenty years didn’t have some guys who were using PEDs. But it’s a whole other thing to go out and hire a guy who has a dark cloud of suspicion hanging over him that hasn’t been dispersed in any substantive way. That’s just plain stupid, and I hope John Henry and Theo don’t get into the inevitable bidding war for the ultimate mercenary. F— the nostalgia. Let the Yankees overpay to reunite Roger with his big-bottomed bosom buddy Andy.

    Unless someone is chewing tennis balls several hours a day, there’s no reason for jaw muscles to pop out in the way that those of Clemens, Caminiti, Bagwell, Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire popped out. Yes, people’s faces can swell and fatten with age, but what we have seen in these guys is different.

    Reply

  7. HFXBOB

    10 years ago

    As sonofhamulack points out it’s probably not fair to use pictures taken 20 years apart as evidence. Too bad we didn’t have a series of pictures from each year to see if there was a big change over a short period. And what other evidence is there? It’s circumstantial, but…in the years 1993 to 1996, Roger’s last 4 with the Red Sox, he had a combined 40-39 record. In 1997 and 1998 with the Jays he had a combined 41-13 record. Was this due to conditioning, motivation and a better splitter? Maybe…but it’s also interesting to note that the years McGwire’s and Sosa’s home run totals exploded were almost concurrent-1998 and 1999.

    John Henry seems like a smart guy and his infatuation with Roger is a little strange. Why would he not pick up Schilling at $13 million but be willing to toss $16 million at Roger for a part year? The only thing that seems to make sense is that the real reasons are publicity value and oneupmanship with the Yankees.

    Reply

  8. MikeFrancis

    10 years ago

    We do have those pictures. They’re called baseball cards. It would be tricky converting 2D data to 3D to calculate the needed ratios, but well within the scope of a masters thesis in computer science.

    The data exists; it just isn’t collected yet. By the time Clemens is up for the HOF, you’ll be able to run a regression on the progression of his facial ratios compared to his peers.

    Reply

  9. Joe in NYC

    10 years ago

    “I think Clemens doesn’t get the same scrutiny because he’s not going after any memorable records.”

    Right now, Clemens has 348 victories. I think he has an outside chance at being the first player in nearly 100 years to reach 400. Maybe then people will start to pay attention.

    Reply
  10. […] I’ve always wondered why Roger Clemens skated through on the steroids issue despite his name being linked to several reports? Was it because  everyone forgot how old he was when he bleached his hair that one time?  [Seth Mnookin] […]

    Reply
  11. […] Jerks and Steroids and Disgusting and Crime and Sports eddiebear 8:05 am Steroids?   […]

    Reply

  12. Jason O.

    10 years ago

    Hmm. Red Sox guy Mnookin plays the PED card re: Clemens just as RC’s selection process is heating up.

    Perhaps the Red Sox are out of the running. I don’t think the braintrust would authorize a post like this otherwise.

    Reply

  13. tigertowner68

    10 years ago

    I think Clemens may be a PED user but contrary to “Barroid”, I do not see any huge spikes in his numbers other than that recent ERA+ thing. And Rocket was always big and muscular anyway. Bonds was a will ‘o the wisp for most of his career.

    As far as Henry thinking about offering $16 million to Clemens, I hope that he does. One thing here is that sure Schiling was offered only $13 million but that was for three years. The Sox would be on the hook for $39 million with that signing. The Sox already offered Schill a two year deal. Management feels that he won’t be productive for three. I think that they are right.

    Reply
  14. […] Deadspin reinvigorates the Roger Clemens issue.  Does he or doesn’t he?  Use anabolics that is. As we prepare for the annual Somebody Ask Roger Clemens To The Prom sweepstakes, Seth Mnookin reminds everyone that Clemens is pretty much as tied to steroid rumors as Barry Bonds is… What’s notable (to me, anyway), is how few people actually asking whether Clemens’ remarkable endurance (some would say resurgence) is due to some kind of PED. After all, it’s not like there’s any shortage of red flags. Clemens is arguably one of two players — the second being Barry Bonds — whose Hall of Fame career was (is) capped (being capped) by his most dominant years coming after the age of 35. […]

    Reply

  15. ygbluig

    10 years ago

    “Right now, Clemens has 348 victories. I think he has an outside chance at being the first player in nearly 100 years to reach 400. Maybe then people will start to pay attention.

    Comment by Joe in NYC — April 11, 2007 @ 8:39 am ”

    So, Joe in NYC, you’re expecting him to play another 2 1/2 – 3 years, and win 20 games in each?
    That would be a way outside chance.

    Reply

  16. Pedro00mvp

    10 years ago

    great points! Bonds and Rocket are both pretty obvious users in my eyes and it is facinating and sad that one is getting off without a relative peep! The fact is we have seen Roger baloon in size too, and though he didn’t smash a homerun record the fact that he has been pitching at the level he has since his last season in boston points to performance enhancement drug usage. It also points to a broader issue, that there is evidence that a large percentage of ballplayers are using steroids and growth hormones, not just these two high profile guys. It is possible that players from Trot Nixon, Johnny Damon, Vlad Guerrero, Jonathan Papelbon, Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, to the more known folks like Giambi and Sheffield, are all cheating along with a majority of others. What then? The fact is I think that Bonds is cheating, but if everyone is cheating then it is clearly unfair to single him out. I mean the notion that when Arod or Pujols breaks bonds homerun record justice will be re-established is pitiful, b/c i think in all likelihood either guy could be cheating too!

    But from a sociological view it is interesting that Bonds gets raked through the coals, while Clemens is the greatest and warrior. Rocket is clearly juicing too. The fact that the media and popular society choose to pretend his accomplishments are natural is outrageous in the face of Bonds’ treatment. The fact is we should be treating Roger exactly as we are treating Bonds.

    Reply
  17. […] That’s all for now. I’ve written plenty about steroids in the past, including last August, when I wondered why no one was wondering about Roger, and way back in October ‘06, when I mocked the press’s surprise that Clemens had been fingered in he Grimsley affidavit. I also tagged Jason Giambi a gutless punk, ripped into the Players Union for defending the players’ right to destroy their livers, lamented the fact that Jose Canseco seemed to be the only honest guy around, and talked about how Bill James compared steroids to going through a divorce. (Sort of, anyway.) […]

    Reply
  18. […] Roger Clemens, through his lawyer, has been sticking with his Casablanca-evoking outrage that he was fingered as a ‘roids user. He shouldn’t be surprised, and neither should anyone else. (Compare this picture of a middle-aged Clemens to this one when he was in Boston. It certainly looks like his body went through a Bonds-like transformation.) I’ve been curious as to why more people weren’t asking questions about Clemens since last January, when Boston was in the hunt for his services. […]

    Reply
  19. […] Let’s drill down a little more. Cole and Stigler write, “The Roger Clemens is a case in point: a great pitcher before 1998, a great (if increasingly fragile) pitcher after he is supposed to have received treatment. But when we compared Clemens’s E.R.A. through 1997 with his E.R.A. from 1998 on, it was worse by 0.32 in the later period.” As I pointed out last year, the salient point here is how Clemens performed in his late 30s compared to his mid 20s. In the 12 years from Clemens’ breakout year in 1986, when he was 23, he had an ERA+ above 180 twice; in the 10 years from age 35 to 44, he had two more. Compare that to other Hall of Fame pitchers from this era like Greg Maddux, who had four years with an ERA+ of 180 or higher before age 35 and none afterwards, or Tom Glavine, whose five best years all came before age 35. Heck, compare it to Tom Seaver, the guy who was voted into the Hall with the highest percentage ever: his six best years all came before age 34. […]

    Reply
  20. […] Blog coverage, as a more personalized medium, gives mostly unfavorable opinions concerning Roger Clemens and this incident. No sympathy is extended to Clemens, with blogs expressing dissatisfaction and even boredom with the seemingly endless claims of PED use that have recently become ubiquitous to the MLB and other professional sports leagues. Of the four blogs I visited, only two actually featured a photo of Clemens. One was an action shot of Clemens reigning on the pitcher’s mound, while another blog offered links to two pictures supposedly before and after the alleged steroid use. Blog coverage is focused mostly on speculation from the Web site author on whether or not Clemens did actually engage in the use of PED’s. Blogs frame the crisis as just another fallen hero, not unlike prominent stars in the past who have been knocked-down from their demi-god status. […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply