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Latarski: Truth in The Steroid Era
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In case you haven't noticed, Roger "The Rocket" Clemens is on trial for lying to Congress about whether or not he used performance enhancing drugs and Human Growth Hormone during his illustrious baseball career.

When testifying before Congress about steroid use, Clemens vehemently denied using such substances, despite claims by a teammate that Clemens confessed to him he did use human fuel additives. Clemens' response was that his teammate "misremembered" their conversation.

Misremembering seems like a really good defense to a lot of bad situations should you want to put that one in your repertoire of excuses.

The question is basically a simple one: if there is sufficient evidence to indicate Clemens did use the juice then he lied; if there is not, then he didn't.

Clemens is desperately trying to protect his image and place in baseball as one of the all-time great pitchers, and to be discovered having used the juice could deal him a crippling blow to his historic place in the game and the chances for induction into the Hall of Fame.

That Clemens played in what has become known as The Steroid Era does not help his cause and given the fact pitchers were facing hitters who used the juice to the point they had muscles in their gums, it actually seems logical, in a twisted sort of way, that pitchers would also take advantage of the same products to keep a competitive balance.

Two wrongs, of course, do not make a right and the taint that is over many players from this era will not soon go away.

In the grand scheme of things, this is not exactly the crime of the century. In fact, there are some who have suggested, even several prospective jurors, that this trial is nothing more than grandstanding and it is a waste of time and money.

This is not really an effective argument because when it comes to wasting time and money the guvmint can find much more efficient ways than prosecuting some baseball player.

The issue is lying to Congress and you just can't pick and choose the laws you want to enforce. If Clemens did lie then he, just as anyone else, should be held accountable.

And if Clemens is found guilty it is not likely they will reopen Alcatraz and more than probable he will not face any significant penalties.

In fairness to Clemens, the fact he would go to Washington and perhaps start telling untruths is perfectly understandable. It seems to happen to a lot of people when they get to Washington.

And there, as The Bard said, is the rub. It seems the truth has become a flexible commodity these days. We see it from elected officials, business leaders, teachers, sports heroes, movie stars and on and on and on. Even when it is not and out-and-out lie not telling the whole truth, leaving out important or pertinent information, has become the norm.

Some misrepresentations of the truth, like the proper response to the famous does-this-dress-make-me-look-fat question, are reasonable.

But if you are in court or before Congress and a female, or even a male for that matter, asks that same question you need to tell the truth.

We want children to learn that telling the truth is always the best way to go yet examples of the opposite are thrown at us every day.

Whether or not Clemens did the juice to help his play is an issue to be dealt with by baseball and the coming generations of fans.

But lying about such use before Congress, if proven, is a completely different issue. Making the argument the juice was the only way he could compete and stay even with all the other guys may even be forgiven in time.

Years from now, there may be some who will say The Steroid Era was such a mess that we have to forgive everyone and just acknowledge it was a time when players did what they felt they had to do.

But lying is something the individual has complete control over. If Clemens used the juice, I can understand; but if he lied about it, then he's just another liar.

Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at