MLB.com senior writer Jonathan Mayo is releasing a book titled "Facing Clemens: Hitters on Confronting Baseball's Most Intimidating Pitcher." He's written a guest post for Over The Monster detailing Roger Clemens and his book.
Well, the dust has settled...for the moment. While everyone will wait for the next step ... an indictment, a guest spot on "The Moment of Truth," whatever it is, I can finally take a breath and try to figure out what all this Roger Clemens stuff means to me.
Why am I different than anyone else? I'm not really, other than the fact I recently completed my first book and boy, do I have interesting timing. It's called "Facing Clemens: Hitters on Confronting Baseball's Most Intimidating Pitcher." I kid you not. It was written, needless to say, before the Mitchell Report was released and there's nary a word about steroids, HGH, Vitamin B12 or eight-year old gauze.
It is, in pretty much every sense of the term, a pure baseball book. OK, so maybe pure isn't the best word to use, but you get the idea. I talked to some of the greats of the game over the last generation, from Cal Ripken Jr. to Ken Griffey Jr., from Gary Carter to Torii Hunter about the challenges of trying to hit Clemens over the course of his quarter-century career. Seemed like a nice, simple first foray into the book-writing world. Boy, was I unprepared for what was to come.
Since all the news has broken, I'm constantly peppered with questions from friends and family about whether it will help or hurt sales (I'm leaning toward helping), if I'm going to write an epilogue about all this stuff (sorry, no time for it) and, of course, who I believe (not really relevant right now). I've become a kind of pseudo-Clemens expert, though I never talked to the man for the book (I did do a chapter with his son, Koby, and he wrote the foreword).
In the end, I feel the book still stands on its own merits. Whether you think Clemens is guilty (Andy Pettitte's sworn testimony makes it hard not to, doesn't it?) or whether you think his vehement denials are sincere, the challenge of facing Clemens as a hitter hasn't changed. Maybe the respect the players I interviewed for the book had for Clemens has dissipated, but they still had to figure out how to hit him when he was a young fireballer and then figure out how to avoid seeing that splitter later on. Even if there had been public knowledge that Clemens was taking something he shouldn't have been, it's not like Torii Hunter would have refused to get in the box against him, seeking his first hit against the Rocket (he went 0-for-28).
Now maybe I'm being naïve and maybe I just want to sell a few more books. Both could be true. I still think that the insights the hitters gave into trying to make a living off arguably the elite right-hander of his era (Again, whether he cheated is beside the point. He was thought of in that echelon before all of this went down) makes for a pretty compelling book. I hope you agree with me.
As for where I stand on all of this, I'd love to stay impartial. But I also know that would be a weak stance to take. For the longest time, I really wanted to believe in Roger Clemens' innocence. I've been covering baseball long enough not to be shocked by anyone's indiscrections, but for once I wanted one person, especially an icon of this nature, to be wrongfully accused, for his denials to be 100 percent sincere. Alas, it has become increasingly difficult to do so and I've seen the faint hope of redemption pretty much extinguished by the testimony of Andy Pettitte. Who knows, maybe I'll be wrong and the Rocket will prevail. I'll still hope so because that would be good for the game of baseball. But I won't hold my breath.