Since his appearance on 60 Minutes last night, the sports world has been abuzz with opinions about whether or not Roger Clemens did, in fact, do steroids, as he is accused in the Mitchell Report. Last night's interview with Mike Wallace did little to help his case, from the reactions I've read.
I watched all but the first minute or so of the segment (flipped over too long during a commercial), and I will say that what struck me about it was how much Roger's body language and gestures opposed what he was actually saying, which some people believe is a signal someone's lying. For example, often when Roger said no--even emphatically--he would nod his head. Even stranger, he'd also do the reverse sometimes, answer in the affirmative and shake his head 'no'.
I'd probably behave pretty strangely if you sat me down for an interview across from Mike Wallace (man's a beast, an icon of investigative journalism, he's interviewed terrorist leaders blindfolded, and he's certainly going to get what he wants from you, sonny). But Wallace, a Yankees fan, is actually a friend of Clemens' and conducted a relatively benign interview. Especially the part where he asked Clemens, "Swear?" And Clemens responded "Swear." As Joy of Sox put it, "Jeez, let's hope that's not Wallace's toughest follow-up question."
JoS also noted that Clemens story on injections has changed, from denying that he was ever injected with anything after the release of the Mitchell Report to admitting that he was injected with Lidocaine and B-12 by trainers in the Wallace interview.
Jumpy body-language...conflicting stories...in the Steroid Era, it's all you need. And the circumstantial evidence against Roger is huge, probably enough to convict him in the Court of Public Opinion, but no more than that, for all the Congressional subpoenas and defamation suits flying around.
Roger has come out denying it up and down because he knows it's his word against his trainer's, and he thinks it'll at least be a draw, even in the worst case. He also seems like a man genuinely eager to salvage his own legacy, regardless of his guilt, and that type of emotion can also make you act, well, a little jumpy.
From what I know of the hotheaded Texan, I can't imagine him acting all that differently--angry, aggressive, not entirely articulate--if he was simply responding to being falsely accused. That's the problem, and I think Clemens hit the nail right on the head when he said, "I don't know if I can defend myself. People have already made up their minds." That's absolutely true, regardless of whether or not he's actually guilty.
Again, the circumstantial evidence against Clemens is compelling, especially when you factor in both Andy Pettitte's admission of guilt and Clemens' claim he had no idea about Pettitte's situation. Please. The two of them are practically married. Clemens' insistence that he knew nothing about his best friend's drug use left me more incredulous than the rest of his interview combined. He had to know how unbelievable that sounded. And what further damage is there to be done by admitting he knew of Pettitte's drug use? Admitting he knew of Pettitte might have actually helped his credibility.
But that's where they've got him. It would take the most skilled of politicians to navigate these choppy waters, and so athletes can be counted upon to make blunders, especially given they also frequently lack fine verbal skills and are in the business of fiery competition, not soothing public address. We'll never definitively know if Clemens did steroids unless his trainer produces hidden-camera videotape of it actually happening, but he's been given more than enough rope to hang himself as a public figure, regardless. Just like Bonds.
All of that makes me wonder what this is really about, though I've been a Bonds and Roger hater with the best of them. Is all this really about solving the problem of the use of damaging and unfair performance-enhancing drugs among young athletes, or is it about finding enough public scapegoats to appease Congress and the baseball audience?