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There is hardly a pitcher that can stand in line next to Roger the ‘Rocket’ Clemens. The winner of no less than 7 Cy Young Awards, Clemens will go down as one of the greatest baseball players that have ever graced the green field. Yet, whatever skills he portrayed with the ball in his hand, however dominant a pitcher he may have been, he will probably be better remembered for the controversies that never seemed to avoid him. Or perhaps his notoriety arises precisely because he was so good with beating the batters. In any case, the ‘Rocket’ was on everyone’s lips more than once, and not always for the right reasons.
The Mitchell Report
The dust over the infamous book ‘Game of Shadows’ has hardly settled when in late December a new report of the past and present steroid use hit the public. Clemens’ name appeared in the report prepared by the Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell, alongside many other high-profile players. The accusations against Clemens were reinforced by his former trainer Brian McNamee, who, in the report, admitted that he had helped the ‘Rocket’ with the Winstrol injection in 1998, 2000, and 2001.
Clemens, unsurprisingly, vehemently denied these allegations. He then went to court to defend his case, launching a defamation suit against McNamee. The legal back and forth between Clemens and his former trainer culminated in the Rocket’s proud, if somewhat solemn oath that he had never, in any circumstance, used any steroids.
But this oath, as if the doping allegations were not enough, came back to haunt Clemens. He was once again accused, but this time for making the false statement to Congress. Another round of legal controversy between Clemens and McNamee ensued, with no less public interest than the previous. But just when Clemens’ legal grounds for defense seemed a bit shaky, and just as he was looking ahead of up to 30 years of prison time if proven guilty of all charges, Clemens was acquitted. He has proven his innocence on the big stage.
Deserving the Hall?
Naturally, immediately following the acquittal from all charges, Clemens became the hot topic again; this time the debate was whether he is to be admitted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On one side were those who believed that a pitcher of his dominance simply had to be there, especially now that the allegations were all proven wrong. The other side in this debate however, had it clear: no player even remotely connected with performance-enhancement drugs, even if proven innocent, should be in the Hall of Fame.
Jorge Posada, a former teammate of Clemens’, put it rather succinctly when he said that it wasn’t fair that the players with so much controversy behind them be admitted. The debate is, at least for now, finished, for the January 2016 voting was not kind to Clemens.
That the 2008 trial controversy was all but unpleasant for Clemens is beyond questioning, but it seemed that it crossed the line when in April 2008 New York Daily News launched a story in which the former Yankee star was accused of having a decade-long affair with the singer Mindy McCready.
The story would not be so controversial if Mindy was not 15 years old when the affair allegedly started. It turned out in the end that the affair indeed existed, but that McCready, as she said, was 21 when they first had sex, and not underage as the reports claimed. Many other affairs Clemens had were brought to light in the subsequent years.
Breaking the Bat
Rodger Clemens’ off-the-pitch controversies may have been more publicized, but his on-the-pitch ones are just as fierce. Probably the fiercest of these occurred in the second game of the 2000 World Series.
There has been some bad blood between Clemens and the Mets catcher Mike Piazza, but no one thought that it would result in the now-infamous broken bat throw. The incident was like no other in World Series: Clemens, following the hit by Piazza, grabs what’s left of his bat, and throws it in his direction.
An odd moment ensued, when everyone stood in bewilderment of what has just happened. Later after the game, Yankees manager Joe Torre did everything in his power to play down the incident, but no one was quite convinced the Clemens bat throw was not intending to hit the target. The aftermath of the incident is that now everyone knew that Roger the ‘Rocket’ Clemens was bound for future controversy.
That, and the bat was later sold at an auction for a quite considerable sum.