How will media treatment of Roger Clemens allegations compare with Barry Bonds coverage?
Readers are right to wonder whether Clemens will get the Barry Bonds treatment from the media. Both reputations are forever sullied if the allegations are true. Here's the difference: Clemens allegedly sought performance enhancers to maintain a standard. He didn't get any better. Bonds, a Hall of Famer before he suddenly grew into the Michelin Man, wanted to elevate his game and succeeded, and in the process broke two of baseballs most revered records.
I got the quotes above out of SportsDay (Dallas Morning News) on Sunday and there is no author attributed to them. So someone is actually arguing that Clemens was not trying to gain a competitive advantage, just "maintain a standard."
The spin control for Clemens has been non stop since rumors began circulating on Thursday that his name would appear in the Mitchell report regarding steroids in baseball. While the last two years have been Bash Barry all the time, the press has already started making excuses for Clemens. He and friend/teammate Andy Pettitte were linked to performance enhancing substances in 2006, but those rumors were swept under the rug.
Meanwhile Bonds has been investigated by the media to no end, and a book was written about his alleged steroid use. All the while Clemens has flown under the radar. A sports talk guy I heard on Friday said he knew in his heart that Clemens had probably taken drugs, but he just wouldn't let himself believe it.
Another talk show host said that the reason Bonds is covered differently was because he has legal implications in his situation. That's another excuse because he was a target of the popular press long before he was indicted for perjury. It's pretty cut and dry: Bonds is Big, Surly, Black and therefore portrayed as an uppity cheater. Clemens is Big, Surly, White, and is portrayed as "maintaining a standard."
As for the actual acts that Clemens is accused of, steroids were not against the rules in baseball when he reportedly took them. Major League Baseball (MLB) was unwilling to stand up to the Players Union to enforce stiff penalties for drug use, in part because increased home runs were resulting in publicity for the league. So my beef is not with what he did so much as how the media has treated Bonds and how they will treat Clemens.
We will see if Clemens fades into the sunset as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro have. Sammy Sosa came back to baseball and Bonds never left while all of these allegations have dogged them. Andy Pettitte has already responded by admitting to using HGH to help him heal from an injury. What will Clemens say? How will the media respond? There going to claim steriod fatigue and kill the story.