|Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens and his attorney Rusty Hardin, right, leave the federal courthouse in Washington after the judge declared a mistrial, July 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)
The abrupt end to the Roger Clemens trial shocked almost everyone with its sheer governmental incompetence — but it would not faze Clemens in the least.
He would have expected something like this. Maybe a day or a month or a year earlier.
That’s the world in which Roger lives, where it is almost entirely about Roger and nothing else. In his mind, he can’t be on trial for perjury because he never lied about anything to anyone. In his mind, he can’t be on his way to prison because he did nothing wrong. So two days into the Clemens trial — and this has to be some kind of record for legal idiocy — it’s all over.
For now, there will no courtroom conclusion to the steroid saga in baseball. There may never be a tangible conclusion of any kind. On Sept, 2, the rather combative U.S. district judge Reggie Walton will determine whether this case will begin again or whether it will end unsatisfactorily and disappear. Some will tell you it doesn’t matter one way or the other, except maybe to the American politicians who invested so much time and money in chasing down Clemens. Others will insist baseball needs a definitive conclusion of one kind or another to the steroid era, which still is not easily understood or defined.
Either way, Clemens won’t change. He is who he is, stubborn, overt, confident to a fault, blind to the world, forever full of himself and some might say full of other substances as well — those not being illegal or immoral.
The evidence in this trial could have and should have been damning for Clemens, even if he wouldn’t acknowledge any of it, had it been presented properly and orderly. Had the prosecution not made two days of errors you wouldn’t expect from a second-year law student, this trial would have continued. But unless Judge Walton has something of a change of mind and heart — and he seemed angry at the government from the minute this foray began — this case will likely die on Sept. 2.
What began as a case so measured by Andy Pettitte’s apparent testimony against his former teammate, Clemens, ended because the prosecution couldn’t keep Pettitte’s wife out of the ordeal, even after being clearly instructed by the judge to do so.
It came down to this, really: Clemens allegedly told Pettitte he had taken performance enhancing drugs. Pettitte went home that night and told his wife what Clemens told him. The prosecution wanted to employ the testimony of Pettitte’s wife to further seal their case against Clemens. The judge ruled before the trial began that Pettitte could testify but his wife could not.
The judge basically ruled that her testimony — as not a direct witness but a hearsay witness — would so poison the fairness of the trial against Clemens that he ordered the prosecution not to mention her name in the trial. Then they did it. Twice. On Day 1. And again on Day 2.
It was then Judge Walton made like a boxing referee and waved his arms and halted an end to the fight. His own technicality knockout of the case.
So what does it all mean for baseball in general?
I asked Jose Bautista, who has faced the steroid question himself, and he didn’t seem to care one way or the other about the mistrial.
“If it was something that concerned me more and I knew what was going on, I could answer,” said Bautista, fresh from the All-Star Game and the Espy Awards. “I don’t really care (about the trial). It’s none of my business. I’d rather not comment... To be honest, I haven’t been following it and I don’t feel comfortable making a comment on it.”
I asked Jays manager John Farrell the same question — whether the mistrial represented a good day or bad day of baseball — and basically got the same answer. “I don’t know enough about the specifics of the trial to comment,” said Farrell. “For me to comment on that, I’d be speaking from an uneducated point of view. So I’d rather not.”
So this much we know: Barry Bonds went on trial and nothing much happened. Clemens went on trial and it ended as a no decision, without certainty there will be any decision in the future.
And Roger Clemens moves on to a place only he can comprehend. He is certain he has done nothing wrong, lied to no one, and baseball continues on without answers or anyone to hold responsible for an era that statistically poisoned this grand old game of numbers.