If one was to look at Roger Clemens career strictly through his statistical accomplishments, there would be absolutely no question that he should be in the Hall of Fame. Over his 24 year career, Clemens posted a 354-184 record with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.173 WHiP, striking out 4672 batters. He won seven Cy Young awards and was an eleven time All-Star. Currently, Clemens ranks ninth all time in wins, third in strikeouts and third in WAR at 139.4. To say that he is not a Hall of Fame pitcher would be laughable, especially as the case could be made that Clemens is amongst the greatest pitchers of all time.
However, Clemens’ career comes with one very large asterisk – the rumors of his usage of PEDs. His former trainer, Brian McNamee, was named in the Mitchell Report as having provided PEDs to Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, and even kept evidence which he claims proves that Clemens was a PED user. Naturally, Clemens refutes these claims, and maintains that he never took PEDs, arguing that his lack of a third ear in the middle of his forehead is sufficient proof.
In the end, does it truly matter if Roger Clemens took PEDs? It absolutely should not. Clemens pitched during the height of the PED era, when Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds were putting up statistics that would have been impressive in a video game. With the idea that the majority of the league was on some sort of PED at the time, then it would appear as though Clemens had an even playing field.
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And yet, the sanctimonious twaddle of majority of the BBWAA would lead one to believe that Clemens cheating, if he did so, is an affront to the sacred game of baseball. Yet, these are the same people that found Gaylord Perry‘s spitball….er….’hard slider’ to be acceptable. Don Sutton‘s scuff ball? Just an example of gamesmanship. But taking PEDs or being suspected of doing so? Blasphemy!!! Clemens and others like him should never enter these sacred halls without paying for a ticket!
Based off this attitude, one would think that a PED user would never be enshrined. But wait – that’s actually not true! Pud Galvin, a pitcher from 1875 through 1892, was noted for taking the PEDs of the time. Back in 1889, Galvin took a serum derived of dog and guinea pig testicles (other reports say that it was derived from monkeys), and promptly pitched a shutout in his next start. Instead of being vilified, Galvin was held up as the shining example that modern medicine could trump the effects of age. Galvin, incidentally, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965.
So, if Galvin could find immortality within the sacred halls of Cooperstown, why not Roger Clemens? Why is his performance during the Steroid Era discounted when he, allegedly, was doing what most other players in his time were? After all, unlike the antics of Perry and Sutton, taking PEDs was not expressly against the rules of Major League Baseball at the time, and Clemens never failed a drug test.
The Steroid Era is no different than the Deadball Era or pre-integration. Players from those times are not held in contempt for playing in those conditions, but those of the Steroid Era are facing undue scrutiny. PEDs or no, what Clemens was able to do in that time frame put him amongst the best pitchers in baseball history.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is reserved for the best of the best. With that in mind, Roger Clemens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.