I remember Roger Clemens, finishing off Oklahoma back in 1983, when his Texas team won the College World Series over Alabama.
Even back then, you could tell he was one determined fellow, so it was not much of a surprise that The Rocket was a first round selection that year, or that a year later he was chucking the pill at Fenway, or that he became a force on the field, where over his now clouded career, he went an astounding 354-184, 3.12, with 4672 strikeouts, not to mention seven Cy Young Awards.
Now, I will admit that despite the success, I was never really a Clemens follower. Not like, say I liked Greg Maddux, who began his career a few years later, and was pretty much as successful.
For whatever reasons, I wanted Maddux on my fantasy teams, and did not care too much about Clemens, in fact I don't ever remember ever drafting him, though I did swap for his stats for successful pennant runs several times in dump trades.
Because even back then, there was something in his determination that smacked of arrogance, and I write that knowing one cannot be determined without a modicum of arrogance, but there is also a difference between arrogance and confidence.
Kirk Gibson, belting his famous homer off Dennis Eckersley exudes confidence--and the joy of victory in the moment--to me, though, way more than any of Clemens fist-pumping antics.
In fact, I loved that for the most part I rooted on the winning side of Dave Stewart versus The Rocket when the Athletics and Red Sox would square off with some pretty good battles in the late '80s.
Well, it looks like that arrogance has been Clemens tragic flaw, as the pitcher has now been charged with lying to Congress when he swore in 2008--at a hearing convened at Clemens' insistence--after the Mitchell report suggested that Clemens had indeed used HGH. Clemens insisted upon the hearing so he could clear his name, and apparently the whole thing backfired.
Had Clemens simply told the truth back then, he would have perhaps been chastised, but that would have been the end of it. But despite fairly damning evidence--not just the testimony of Brian McNamee, but the unknowing corroboration of former teammate Andy Pettitte--and confident or not, that is going to be tough to ignore.
Clemens is sticking to his guns--he says he looks forward to challenging the ruling--in typical fashion, kind of reminiscent of another baseball outcast, Pete Rose.
And like Rose, Clemens is his own worst enemy. Too bad. If public redemption worked for Mark McGwire, and it seems to have, it could work for those guys too.