It used to be that the only debate over Roger Clemens' Hall of Fame induction was what cap he'd be wearing on his bronzed plaque — Red Sox or Yankees? (Sorry, Jays and 'Stros fans.) Yet even that wasn't much of an argument. With Boston fans long since over his departure, it seemed a foregone conclusion he'd be wearing a Bomber hat on the big day.
All of that changed, of course, after December, when Clemens' name dominated the Mitchell Report headlines and he prepared to defend his image against former trainer Brian McNamee on Capitol Hill.
Now, in the wake of last week's allegations over his personal life, it seems like Clemens has one more factor working against his election on a first ballot — and maybe even in elections after that one.
Since the Stew strives to be a good melting pot of ideas and opinions, I solicited views from four different baseball bloggers and had them offer a few ideas to my questions.
Will the latest allegations add even more obstacles to his Hall of Fame path? Did his image take an even bigger hit than it did back in December? Was such a thing even possible? Answers and ideas are below:
David Chalk, Bugs & Cranks: "Have they discovered Roger’s ties to that polygamist cult in Texas yet? I'm pretty certain of two things — There will be more revelations (Crikey! He did what to Greg Norman's wife?) — and nothing will keep him out of the Hall for more than a ballot or two.
"Why? It's what Jose Canseco said — it's the Bushes, stupid. If they can steal a presidential election or two, you think they can't get some reporters to vote in Roger Clemens? Plus, I bet those Steinbrenners still have a soft spot for him, and that Astros owner too. People barely care about Clemens now, will any of this really be a big deal six years from now? It’s not like we’ve seen any nefarious Internet referendums to get the Hall Of Fame to accept desecrated memorabilia from his proudest career achievements. Plus, can you imagine the ratings and print sales the induction ceremony would generate?"
Rob Iracane, Walkoff Walk: "Dozens of sanctimonious baseball writers are waiting with bated breath to exercise their veto power on the best pitcher of my generation. They did it to Mark McGwire, they'll probably do it to Barry Bonds and they'll definitely do it to Roger Clemens. We're living in a new era of Hall of Fame voting; where every single aspect of a baseball player's lifestyle can be evaluated and every single allegation against a player is taken at face value without the truth ever coming out. Did Roger Clemens pitch better than anyone in the past 25 years? Yes. Did Roger Clemens do steroids? Probably. Is Roger Clemens a total jerk? I certainly don't want to be friends with the man. Will Roger Clemens be voted into the Hall of Fame after all of Brian McNamee's sordid accusations? Hell no.
"Clemens stands no chance against a small but vocal minority of angry writers and will probably have to wait to be voted in by a future incarnation of the Veterans Committee. Probably once all the noise about steroids has been drowned out by some new controversy, like performance-enhancing brussels sprouts. Oh, the horrors of Vitamin A!"
Dan Lamothe, Red Sox Monster: "Five years ago, when the educated baseball-loving public thought about Roger Clemens, his thorniness and temper were largely overwhelmed by his undeniable greatness on the diamond. I think I speak for many when I say that while I didn't like him as a fan, it was hard not to admire him — to look at those legendary leg workouts and marvel at the way he rejuvenated his career.
"Over the last six months, that has all changed. The problem for Clemens is that the skeletons that have come out of the closet to haunt him make it difficult to see him as anything but Mr. Pants On Fire, as a guy who wouldn't only take the wimp's lunch money during high school, but shank him in the back for daring to complain about it.
"I think there's little doubt that Clemens won't get into the Hall of Fame on the first rounds of voting, at the very least. The best he can hope for is that he avoids criminal charges (perjury, for one) and becomes a sympathetic figure in his later years. It's a tall order, to say the least."
Maureen Ryan, The Yankees Chick: "Of all the players (or managers ... or owners ... or fans ... no one is safe) I make fun of, no one since Carl Pavano has made it as easy as Roger "Just Like OJ, I Didn't Do It" Clemens has this year. In just a few short months we've been treated to everything from steroids allegations to the latest sex scandal, and even the most hardcore Rocket fans such as myself are finding themselves incapable of stifling their laughter with each new development at this point.
"I really am a big Rocket fan and honestly tried to give him the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of all this — what hard evidence does Trainer Boy have, after all? — but the deluge of allegations that keep raining down upon him are enough to make any apologetic fan (or voter) take a defensive stance. He made an ambiguous and multi-purpose apology for un-named "personal mistakes" yesterday, but he left it up to our curious little brains to decide just which allegations he was apologizing for.
Was it the juice use? The alleged relationship with a 15-year-old future country star? The beaning of his son in a batting practice session a couple years ago? I like to think it was for disappointing the Yankees Chick."