The Rocket Has Crashed

Yesterday afternoon was one of those days you don’t forget – usually it’s good news you remember, but the bad news often creeps up when you least expect it and therefore clings in memory.

Roger Clemens – is there anyone in sports who doesn’t recognize that name?  And how many little boys idolized him and his accomplishments?

We last saw Roger – in public – addressing the Congress of the United States in February 2008.  He had gone to D.C. earlier that week to visit with all the members of the committee where he would appear.  This is not normal, or usual – in fact, he was told by the committee Chairman, don’t bother, just submit your statement.  But no, Roger had to make his rounds and say his piece to them all in person after which the obligatory pictures were taken.  He had to continue to be famous.

In two weeks Roger will be arraigned and the process will proceed.

Here is part of a column written today by Richard Griffin in the Toronto Star: 

“Thursday, Clemens was indicted for obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury. He has been accused of lying to Congress about using steroids. If found guilty, he will likely do some jail time.”

Why would he do it? Because his past is more important to him than his future. Because protecting his legacy as a future Hall-of-Famer was more important than playing a role in cleaning up the game and making it drug-free for the next generation of players — which included his own sons. 

Clemens was never comfortable being Roger Clemens. Legend has it that in Boston when he entered his favourite night spot, he insisted they play Elton John’s hit Rocket Man to signal his arrival. At the Jays annual golf tournament with heavy-paying sponsors in each foursome, Clemens would ask for his own golf cart and park away from the others talking on his cellphone as they waited to tee off. In the clubhouse, after a start, The Rocket would emerge from the trainer’s room with carefully rehearsed answers and when questions started to strain his playbook, he would just walk away and end it.

It will be the best thing for baseball and the best thing for Clemens if he is convicted for his alleged transgressions under oath. He should do some jail time as well. It would show a younger generation of players and some of his veteran contemporaries that the Steroid Era had better be over or they too risk hard time, and it may snap Clemens out of his two-decade long fantasy that he was a character, The Rocket and was above the laws of other mere mortals.

Don’t cry for The Rocket, but feel sorry for Roger Clemens.”   

I doubt that many will cry for Roger Clemens –  and the little boys I feel sorry for are his four sons, who will carry the shame of their father all their lives. 

I often wonder – in the search for fame and posterity how many athletes give a moment’s thought to what their quests do to their families?  I hope that we only hear about the ones gone wrong, while the good Dads go home to their kids as often as they can – they are the real sports heros.