The Rocket has a problem.
With Andy Pettitte’s admission on Saturday that he used human growth hormone on two occasions, Clemens’ attempts to clear his name by flatly denying he ever used performance-enhancing drugs will become increasingly futile.
As tentative as Pettitte’s admission is — he claims he only used HGH twice while rehabbing a shoulder, didn’t like it and thus never touched the stuff again — it still gives credence first, to the information shared by his and Clemens’ trainer, Brian McNamee, and second, to the Mitchell Report as a whole.
If the reports by McNamee chronicled by Mitchell have been verified — at least in some way, no matter how trite he may try to make them — by Pettitte, then there is even stronger reason today than there was on Thursday when the report was released to believe that the information shared about Clemens has at least some validity to it.
Of course, a deeper look at Clemens’ numbers should have told us the story a long time ago.
A casual look at Rafael Palmeiro’s stats show a dramatic rise in productivity around the time that Jose Canseco asserted in his memoir “Juiced” that Palmeiro began juicing.
The numbers for Todd Hundley, also named in the Mitchell Report, show a similar jump. The report clams that Hundley started juicing before the 1996 season. Before that season, he had never hit more than 16 home runs in a single season. The next year, Hundley obliterated the record for most homers in a season by a catcher, with 41. In 1997, he hit 30.
Take a look at Clemens. Following the 1996 season, Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette said that Clemens was on the downside of his career and that the Sox weren’t going to offer him a lengthy extension. Clemens was coming off his first losing season in the big leagues, and though he had pitched 240 innings, he gave up more hits in a season than he had in a decade. The season before, Clemens was hurt, working only 140 innings. In those last two years with Boston, Clemens was just 20-18, a mediocre pitcher.
The next two seasons in Toronto? Clemens was a combined 41-14 with an ERA under 2.50 with nearly 500 innings pitched. He won the Cy Young award in both seasons.
Uh-huh. Yeah, right.
It would benefit Clemens to come clean now. Fess up. A fan’s world is a forgiving one, and a tearful apology in front of the cameras would go a long way. Think about it: who is more reviled? An obtuse Barry Bonds or a regretful Jason Giambi?
It is Clemens’ only course of action. Andy Pettitte, whether he meant to or not, just made it that way.