The government struggles to do much right, and the trial against Roger Clemens is no exception. They botched his trial, setting the former standout baseball pitcher free unless prosecutors can get a retrial on charges he perjured himself before Congress in 2008, saying he had never done performance enhancing drugs.
Others, including close friends, like former friend and teammate Andy Petitte, say Clemens did use performance enhancing drugs. Such evidence, prosecutors said, means Clemens lied in sworn testimony before Congress. And they wanted him tried and found guilty of the infraction.
But a silly courtroom mistake set him free, for now.
But it's not like Roger Clemens, the former standout MLB pitcher who excelled for the New York Yankees, is truly walking free. All the evidence suggests Clemens used performance enhancing drugs during his MLB career. The smoking gun is Petitte, who has no reason to lie about Clemens' apparent confirmation of use to him.
There's more evidence against Roger Clemens, too. Lots more. That's why prosecutors felt they had a winning case. That's why the trial was expected to last for weeks -- there was so much.
Most baseball fans didn't even need that much, however, and that's the thing about Roger Clemens and his mistrial. Anybody who watched professional baseball at all, or who's aged at all, understands that Clemens was defying the odds of both. Why, his fastball got 10 miles per hour faster late in his career. His endurance increased.
Clemens became, as a seasoned veteran, a powerful pitching machine. And that defies logic, particularly in an era when so many players in professional baseball were using performance enhancing drugs. It's not who was doing it, but who was not doing it. Clemens may think people believe him, saying that the didn't, but not many do.
The reason for his holdout in confessional is clear. He doesn't want to go to jail for perjury. And nobody in their right mind would. But like so many others have walked free in mistrials when they were obviously guilty, Clemens didn't exactly get off from anything.
Baseball is a public game, built upon the judgement and passion of fans who determine which players were truly great, and which players were not. Players can do down in the record books while being schmucks when it comes to performance enhancing drugs, but they can't easily get into baseball's coveted Hall of Fame.
Clemens may face a retrial yet. The question on that one is still out. But it doesn't really matter. It's probably all a waste of time at this point. The evidence that Clemens used performance enhancing drugs while playing the game is strong. The evidence that Clemens lied before Congress is strong.
So we can just leave it at that.
Clemens was a very good professional baseball pitcher. He apparently got better using performance enhancing drugs. He should have come clean, being honest, but he didn't. Whether the federal government gets him for lying or not doesn't much matter at this point.
What happened is rather clear, and the punitive sentence for Clemens may just end up being his not getting into baseball's Hall of Fame.
That's a pretty harsh sentence for a player who was among the game's best.