Roger Clemens is arguably one of the greatest pitchers ever in Major League Baseball history. Clemens has built an astounding and exciting career filled with impressive statistics that may rarely be duplicated. His career extends from the early 1980’s into the new millennium, and continues today. During this stretch, nicknamed “The Rocket”, he won more Cy Young awards, seven, than any other pitcher in MLB history. The Cy Young award is given annually to the League’s best pitcher. In 2003 he won the 300th game of his career. He is only one of four MLB pitchers in all time to pass the 4,000 strikeout mark.
started his dominance of baseball in 1981 at San Jacinto junior college. That year he compiled a 9-2 record and was drafted by the New York Mets. He chose not to sign with the Mets and instead continued his college career at the University of Texas. There he again showed signs of brilliance. In two seasons at Texas he compiled a 25-7 record, was a two-time All-American, and led his team to a College World Series
title. Again, Major League Baseball came calling and this time Clemens would answer.
In 1983 Roger Clemens was drafted in the first round, 19th overall, by the Boston Red Sox. In 1986 he won 24 games, received the American League MVP award, and his Red Sox played in and lost the World Series. Within that same year Clemens struck out 20 batters in one game. He was the first of only three pitchers to accomplish this feat and he repeated it again in 1996 just before leaving the Red Sox.
The Twilight of His Career
Many considered Clemens’ best years the 13 seasons he was at the Red Sox. After 1996 he was not re-signed by the Red Sox because they felt he was in the twilight of his career. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays where he struggled a lot early on. Despite these early struggles, his career had a resurgence that many did not see coming. This resurgence is what caused the speculations of steroid use. After two years with the Toronto Blue Jays he won had the Cy Young award and the pitching Triple Crown both seasons. The triple crown is awarded to the pitcher that, at seasons end, leads the league in the three major categories: earned run average, wins, and strikeouts. In 1999 Clemens was again traded, this time to the New York Yankees. While there he led the Yankees to win two World Series in 1999 and 2000. In 2001 he became the first pitcher ever to start a season 20-1. At the end of the 2003 season he retired.
Roger Clemens’ retirement was very brief as he signed a one-year contract with the Houston Astros in 2004. He then renewed his contract with the Astros the following year and became the highest paid pitcher in major league history. Again, Clemens came through with a spectacular performance when he ended the season with the lowest ERA in the majors, the lowest in his career and the lowest since 1995. Clemens continued his career with the Astros until he went back to the Yankees in 2007. His career continues today but with more uncertainty then ever before. Amid baseball’s steroid scandal, Roger has been mentioned as one who has taken them, which seriously puts his future and past records in a compromising position.
The Steroid Scandal
For the last few years Major League Baseball has been rocked by a steroid abuse scandal. Many books have been written accusing several players of doping over the years. There have been former players and trainers who have come forward to accuse players, active and inactive, of taking steroids during their playing days. Many of the heroes of children have been implicated for cheating and steroid use. Some of the most notable are Mark Mcgwire, Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, and most recently, Roger Clemens. All of these player’s careers have been forever stained by allegations that they used performance enhancing drugs during their careers. Some have confirmed their use while others, such as Roger Clemens, firmly deny ever taking such drugs. Without a doubt, this steroid scandal will hurt the game and its image for years to come. Steps have been taken by Major League Baseball officials to try and stop the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs but this scandal will definitely have an adverse effect on MLB for the foreseeable future.
The Mitchell Report: The Beginning of the End?
Roger Clemens had largely avoided all of the steroid talks and investigations until the Mitchell Report was released. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell wrote a report from an investigation he had been doing on steroids in MLB since 2004. The 409-page long report identified 86 baseball players to varying degrees but Clemens was the biggest name mentioned in the report. Now Clemens has come under fire. This report was the beginning of the investigation into his alleged steroid use, which he heatedly denies.
Roger’s Battle Comes to the Forefront
Amid the turmoil created by the Mitchell Report, Clemens faced even more accusations, this time from his former trainer Brian McNamee. McNamee had told Mitchell investigators and the government that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormones. This second round of accusations caused Clemens to begin a public relations campaign His career, character, and legacy were now in serious jeopardy.
At first, Roger stayed away from the media. He had official attorney-issued statements denying that he ever used steroids but he decided to stay away from the public for about a week. He then put out a web-site controlled video denial of steroid abuse. None of this seemed to make a difference as the accusations kept flying.
In his first big public move, Clemens agreed to go on “60 Minutes” and be interviewed by Mike Wallace. In this interview he again denied any use of steroids, saying that it was a “quick fix” but that it did not outweigh the long-term health risks. It should be pointed out that Clemens did take painkillers, pills such as Vioxx and shots of lidocaine. Lidocaine is a numbing agent used to dull joint pain. Clemens use of other medical agents led people to assume he would be a candidate for former steroid use as well. As for the pitching resurgence that Clemens experienced after leaving the Red Sox in 1996, he chocks it up to “Hard work”. This raises questions because many scouts who had considered signing Clemens after 1996 thought he was all but done because his performance was so bad. But this resurgence coincides with the approximate time that he began working with McNamee. It also corresponds to the years that McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids. Another hit to Clemens credibility came when his best friend and pitching buddy, Andy Pettitte, admitted to using HGH. Pettitte was Clemens teammate and also a client of McNamee. Clemens has said he had no idea that Pettitte used HGH but many find that hard to believe as they are such good friends.
In another attempt at clearing his name, Clemens decided to have a press conference with the media. The beginning of the conference was strangely started by Clemens playing a taped phone conversation between him and McNamee. This phone conversation was recorded on advice of his counsel and with them listening in. McNamee had no idea he was being recorded. The phone conversation raised more questions than answers, as neither side would submit to the other. After Clemens played the recording he began taking questions from the media. As the conference went on Clemens became very agitated and aggressive. He started answering questions defiantly and was obviously very perturbed. He whined that he thought he would receive an “inch” of respect given his accomplishments. It was not a very good press conference for Clemens as he exuded an arrogance and an attitude that did not create any sympathy for him from the public. Many of his answers were not suitable to his numerous publics because they believed they were not sincere and honest answers. This conference will undoubtedly have an effect on any further public relations efforts he puts forth as his credibility, despite his success, is waning.
The Future is in Question
Roger Clemens obviously faces an uphill battle in an effort to clear his name. Clemens’ name, regardless of the outcome of this situation, will now always be associated with steroids. He has filed a defamation lawsuit against McNamee and has said that he will voluntarily testify before a congressional hearing in the near future. Roger Clemens time in the public eye is far from over. There is no way to know how this will turn out. It has become a battle of he said – he said and the solution lies with the truth. Clemens’ public relations efforts may be able to soften the blow if he handles this well but they will not be able to erase the truth. The only thing that is certain in this case is that Clemens’ reputation may never recover.
Questions & Answers
We believe that Roger Clemens had the right idea in his public relations approach. Sitting back initially was probably a good idea because it allowed him to get a feel for how the public was reacting and it enabled him and his lawyers to make a plan of action. What he did not do well though is how he perceived himself to the public. Some people already look at Clemens as a cocky and arrogant individual so we do not believe it was in his best interest to come off that way in his press conference. How can you give someone respect that does not respect you? His answers were not very concrete. It seemed that he answered the questions in a way so he could possibly deny them later if need be. He lost credibility with the public when he began to get angry at his press conference. He seemed more like a whiny little boy then a professional baseball player. It is obvious he has taken a firm stance in this issue but he needs to be very careful. If he comes off like he feels untouchable, it may come back to haunt him in the public relations world.
Our main recommendation would be that he be honest. He is obviously vehemently denying any use of steroids and if that’s the truth, then so be it. What he needs to be is sincere and try to sway the public’s sympathy towards him. When he is already known for being hot-headed and an overly confident man he needs to tone it down a little and show a more personal side of himself. This will then “let people in” and hopefully gain support for his side of the story. We think he is taking the right steps by going in front of the congressional hearing to testify and by filing a defamation lawsuit because if he is telling the truth, he has to do these things. This will obviously be a long drawn out process so he may need to try and keep as low key as possible until all this stuff works itself through. This way he will not mistakenly add any fuel to the fire and maybe jumpstart reestablishing his reputation.