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Roger Clemens Perjury Trial: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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“One’s a born liar and the other’s convicted.” These are the infamous words said by Billy Martin, right before he became ex-manager of the New York Yankees. He was, of course, referring to Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner respectively (Jackson had served a five-game suspension for insubordination and “lied” about it; Steinbrenner had pleaded guilty to illegal campaign contributions). Although this was said way back in 1978 by the late Martin, it seems like it could be very apropos in Roger Clemens’s perjury trial in Washington, D.C.

Defense attorney Rusty Hardin has tried to portray Brian McNamee (the personal trainer who has testified that Clemens took steroids) as a liar. Clemens could end up being convicted, so you can see the quotation connection here. The question is who is lying and, more importantly, if any of this really matters anymore.

The other night Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was on the field playing in a game against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Yes, this is the same player who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, received a 50-game suspension, but through technicalities got that ruling overturned. So there is Braun, an active Major League player, basically getting away with it. If MLB doesn’t care about him, why did it ever care about Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, or any of the other guys who became bloated like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons?

The problem is not that Clemens denied using steroids or HGH, but that he took an oath and did so before Congress, leading to this six-count federal indictment. You can lie to the press and MLB (and even to your teammates and the fans), but lying under oath before Congress is a whole different ballgame.

Hardin is getting in touch with his inner Clarence Darrow here, and he is taking the gloves off with McNamee because this guy is the prosecution’s big gun. When Hardin asked McNamee, “Do you sometimes just make stuff up?” you could see his strategy, so when McNamee replied, “I didn’t make it up,” you have to wonder who is scoring more points with the jury.

U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton has tried to keep things civil in the court, telling Prosecutor Steven Durham and Hardin to behave. He said, “You don’t have to throw dirt,” but the way things seem to be going, they both need to take a good bath.

Lawyers can never be sure what goes through the minds of a jury, but this case is going to come down to whom they believe to be telling the truth. Someone is lying and someone may be convicted, and the real truth may never be known, but a former Yankee could end up in prison.  One day Clemens may be watching a game behind bars and see Braun running across the field and wonder how this all happened to him, like a scene in the worst soap opera. Unfortunately, this could be a painful reality for the Cy Young Award winning pitcher. You can’t make this stuff up indeed!

Photo Credit: espn.go.com

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charlie Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • His Excellency Prince Igor

    What I learned from this sordid episode is: “Take the fifth!”

    Clemens could have taken the fifth and avoided all this. At worst he would have been offered a prosecution exclusion that would have required him to testify but would have kept him free.

    Instead, he chose to try to bully his way through the testimony and now he is in jeopardy.

    Vanity, vanity. All is vanity.

    Pride goeth before a fall.

    Etc. (You can add your own favorite homily here).