The question I always have surrounding the issue of performance-enhancing drugs and baseball is why players don’t immediately come clean about their indiscretions. For example, pitcher Andy Pettitte was named in the infamous Mitchell Report of 2007, where players where publicly identified for the past usage of PEDs. A few days later, Pettitte confronted the issue by stating he did in fact use performance-enhancing drugs for lingering injuries in 2002. Pettitte was initially criticized for tainting his own personal legacy as well as harming the reputation of Major League Baseball. But after a few short months, people actually began to praise Pettitte for his admission in a day and age where denial was the name of the game. Although I do join the majority in appreciating Pettitte’s candid approach, it still doesn’t dismiss the fact the he used PEDs to enhance his abilities.
This comes on the eve of Roger Clemens’ trial revolving his involvement in steroids and PEDs, in which he continues to adamantly deny ever using drugs to perform better on the playing field. Like Pettitte, Clemens’ name was mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell Report – an astounding 82 different times. Jose Canseco has accused him of steroid use. His personal trainer Brian McNamee has accused him of steroid use. Yet even with all of these testimonies, Clemens continues to proclaim his innocence to the world. Clemens is widely considered the best pitcher of this generation, amassing a tremendous 354 wins and a career ERA of 3.12. These are surefire Hall of Fame statistics. As are the career statistics of Barry Bonds, with 762 home runs and 2,558 walks, both hallowed Major League Baseball records. Yet, it would be hard to envision a day where both Clemens and Bonds are welcomed into Cooperstown with open arms. If these two stars, along with the countless other athletes suspected of using PEDs, came clean immediately after the accusations, would it be a forgive-and-forget situation? Perhaps Pettitte will serve as the barometer for future tests, as his lifetime statistics a borderline worthy of Hall of Fame induction. If his fate is decided by his PED usage, it is certain that Bonds and Clemens will be denied access to immortality. All I know is if Bonds and Clemens are admitted to Cooperstown before Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader who received a lifetime ban from baseball for his involvement in illegal gambling, something is terribly wrong.