If you’re a sports fan, by now if you didn’t actually hear it, you’ve heard of Roger Clemens’ well-hyped interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike this morning. Clemens, who claims he’s been unmuzzled by his new legal team, felt the need to address the allegations in the release of a team of New York Daily News journalists, American Icon.
So I decided to find out.
BwB: Point blank, based on your knowledge of the subject, what was your overall impression of the interview Roger Clemens did on Mike & Mike this morning?
Jeff Pearlman: Honestly, my first reaction was, “Man, this guy is such a terrible interview.” It brought back covering him as a writer—the rambling, the runarounds, the nonsensical blather. Beyond that, I was baffled: Why in the world would Clemens do this on the day a book about him is coming out? He gave the American Icon writers the greatest free publicity they’ll ever, ever, EVER receive. They must have been thrilled, and I would have been to. Weird.
BwB: While I have not yet read “American Icon” myself, “The Rocket That Fell to Earth” was not only a scathing account of the alleged steroid use, but a pretty blunt character study on Clemens’ tainted view of reality. Throughout the M&M interview, Roger repeatedly asserted that he’s just (paraphrasing) “continuing to do what he always does.” With his repeated and steadfast denials, Is there an inherent sense of irony in that statement?
Pearlman: Yeah. He’s continuing to do what he always does—spew bullshit. Look, there’s no secret and no doubt: The man cheated, then lied before Congress. Odds of his innocence: 0 percent. So it continues to blow me away that he feels the need to keep the fraud rolling. I don’t own a crystal ball, but I can see the future, and it looks a helluva lot like Pete Rose’s past: Deny, deny, deny, deny, don’t get in the Hall, maybe do some jail time, eventually write a book admitting that, OK, I was lying, but, well, hey, spend the rest of your days signing autographs for $20 at a card show in conference room C of the Bethesda Holiday Inn Express. It’s unfortunate, but he’s responsible for his own fate.
BwB: In light of the physical evidence against him, namely the needles and tissues which McNamee used in injecting him, how valid is his claim that he’s given a DNA sample which will exonerate him?
Pearlman: I find it completely and totally ludicrous. To me, it’s pretty clear what’ll happen here: The DNA matches Clemens, then he claims that McNamee tainted the needles, or that they were used for vitamins or grape juice. His legal team will have a half-baked answer for everything, because that’s what legal teams do.
BwB: How comical is the repeated “misremembered” justification in relation to Andy Pettitte’s testimony.
Pearlman: Pathetic. Stupid. Asinine. The whole interview was a joke. One thing that also struck me is he’s ripping, ripping, ripping American Icon, saying what BS it is … yet I can absolutely guarantee you he has not read the book. In fact, I wish Mike and Mike would have asked that: Roger, have you read the dang thing? They did a solid job, but that’s a question I would have thrown out there.
BwB: This is in no way meant to be a humorous question, but is the constant denial possibly a sign of a mental deficiency. Is he purposely lying or does he truly, in some strange way, believe his innocence.
Pearlman: When I was living in Nashville years ago I got a ticket for going through a red light. I was incredibly angry, and convinced myself the light was yellow. As the court date approached, I became increasingly convinced the cop was wrong; that it wasn’t red; that it was just a cop trying to get his quota for the day. I KNEW it wasn’t red.
Well, of course it was red. And I lost $150.
BwB: Is it possible he’s telling the truth?
BwB: M&M peppered him on the Hall of Fame question, and in your book (and our last conversation) you stuck to your belief that his actions have damned him in the same doghouse as McGuire, Rose and Shoeless Joe. Should there never be any hard evidence produced of his guilt, will his tarnished public image still prevent him from enshrinement?
Pearlman: Yeah. Because people aren’t stupid. And you’d have to be stupid. That’s the thing about the steroid era that I find most infuriating—the ol’ “I’ve never failed a test” line used by dozens upon dozens of players. Well, the testing was terrible, and a test for HGH doesn’t exist. So of course you didn’t fail.
BwB: Now that his lawyers have unmuzzled him, is this the beginning of Roger’s “legacy” tour to get him into the Hall and are we going to see him on Rachel Ray in a few weeks? Kid’s Choice Awards? Or was this a one shot deal?
Pearlman: Honestly, I don’t think anyone will take him. He’s damaged goods. Would Ray want him in her kitchen? Would Letterman want him on his couch? No, no. Absolutely nobody believes him.
BwB: You’re a multi-time best selling author. Why no similar reaction to “Rocket?”
Pearlman: Because I’m Jewish.
Kidding. What these guys wrote was the Game of Shadows for Clemens. My book is more a biography of his life, the Daily News book is a detailed look at his PHD usage. So when it comes strictly to steroids and Roger, theirs is probably the bible. When it comes to Clemens’ life and times and what led him to this point, well, that’s where I come in. And, to be honest, I hope their book does well. They’re rival books to a certain degree, but I’m a fan of any sports writers trying to expose the truth in this ludicrous era.
Thanks to Jeff for his honest and open insight. For more information on the author/columnist and his work, visit JeffPearlman.com.
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