Back in January, when Roger Clemens filed his lawsuit, I wondered if the legal process would open up a whole new can of worms. Short answer: yes. And what nubile worms they turned out to be.
But the Rocket’s latest statement, which hit the newsstands today, shows just how far he still is from understanding what’s already happened to him.
I was only just getting used to Mitchell report ballplayers apologizing without saying what they were apologizing for. There was Eric Gagne, who apologized for a “distraction” and said he felt “bad.” Bad for what? Distraction, why? He didn’t say. Paul Lo Duca was similarly cryptic. “You do something wrong in your life and you get away with it, you still have something inside you that burns,” he said. I don’t think he was talking about kung pao chicken. But when a reporter asked him for an antecedent, Lo Duca’s replied: “Come on, bro. Next question.” Jason Giambi set the standard in 2005, when his use of steroids became public. He took “full responsibility”—but for what he did not say. And he declined to elaborate. “I’m sorry,” said Giambi, “But I’m trying to go forward now.” Move forward from what?
But Roger Clemens has now taken this art of nonapologizing to a new level. He admitting making “mistakes” in his “personal life,” adding, “I have apologized to my family and apologize to my fans. Like everyone, I have flaws. I have sometimes made choices which have not been right.” Then he categorically denies any improper relationship with “a fifteen-year old girl.” Mindy McCready is not mentioned by name.
(McCready, of course, said she”could not refute” anything in the story first reported by the New York Post. The Post danced around the issue of statutory rape by saying that Clemens and McCready met when she was 15, that it was “love at first sight,”and that McCready accompanied Clemens back to his hotel room, but that the two did not become “intimate” until she moved to Nashville and became a star—conveniently, when she had turned 18. But as Coley pointed out, it’s hard to say what’s creepier—a 28-year old man sleeping with a high school sophomore, or a 28-year old man mentoring her for three years and then sleeping with her when he’s 31 and she’s 18?)
In the statement, Clemens said the relationship, “has been twisted and distorted far beyond reality,” adding, “It is just one of many, many accusations that are utterly false.” He does not, of course, go into specifics. He merely concluded:
“I realize that many people want me to simply confess and apologize for the conduct that I have been accused of, but I cannot confess to, nor apologize for, things I did not do. I have apologized to my family for my mistakes. And having offered this apology to the public, I would ask that you let me and my family deal with these matters in private.”
If the accusations are as false as he claims, it’s hard to see what sort of matters he and his family could be dealing with in private. If they’ve got stuff to deal with, it would seem to point to some level of truth in the philandering-Roger stories. Of course, I suppose it could be his other, unspecified “flaws” or “choices which have not been right.” But then, why issue this statement now? Can’t we just go back to accepting “full responsibility” (for something unnamed), “moving on” (from something unnamed), because someone feels “bad” (about something unnamed)? That seemed so simple and clear in comparison.
But the biggest insight into Clemens’ view of this case comes in this short nugget: “I believe my personal life has nothing to do with the accusations of steroid and HGH use. I have already made clear that I did not use them.” When he was gladhanding on Capitol Hill, he asserted that he did not use PEDs and that he was a faithful family man. Now he asserts the two assertions have nothing to do with each other. Not only does he seem to think whatever he asserts becomes God’s own truth, he also apparently believes that this truth can be changed any time he issues a new assertion.
Unfortunately, Roger’s lawyers don’t seem to have informed him that in the eyes of the law, just asserting something doesn’t make it so. Once you’re making statements under oath, anything untrue assertion becomes perjury. That’s how you get from an Arkansas land deal to Monica Lewinsky. That’s how you get from the Hall of Fame to a can of worms.