by Teri Thompson, Nathaniel Vinton, Michael O’Keeffe and Christian Red — New York Daily News Sports Investigative Team; Knopf; 2009; 454 pages; $26.95
The performance-enhancing drug controversy embroiling Major League Baseball’s seven-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Roger Clemens turns on a single question: Did Clemens, arguably the outstanding pitcher of his generation, use outlawed and banned performance-enhancing drugs during the course of his career in the Big Leagues (1984-2007) and then lie about it in testimony before Congress in February 2008?
On Aug. 19, Clemens was indicted by a federal grand jury “on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice,” according to a Los Angeles Times article. He pleaded not guilty on all charges and a trail date of April 5 was set.
Four sports writers at the New York Daily News collaborated in 2009 on a book purporting to answer the shocking question of Clemens’ guilt or innocence. The recent indictment brings their book back into focus.
Right from the start, the sports investigative team is quick to point out that Clemens steadfastly denied using performance-enhancing drugs such as human growth hormone (HGH) and steroids.
The reporters were quick to point out that “the committee’s Democratic staff memo … noted that there was an abundance of medical evidence that indicates Clemens lied to Congress.”
The authors declare “evidence … leads us to believe that Clemens lied when he testified under oath that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs. This book tells the story of that drug use and of the damage it would ultimately inflict on one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history … It also tells the story of how steroids and HGH became so prevalent in and out of the clubhouses of America’s pastime.”
Writing with great clarity and honesty, the team of sports writers is upfront in admitting that the evidence against Clemens is sometimes circumstantial, incomplete and often involves Clemens’ word against the testimony of teammates like self-confessed HGH user Andy Pettitte and admitted illegal drug suppliers like sports trainer Brian McNamee.
After carefully offering disclaimers like these, the writers set to work meticulously building a convincing argument that Roger Clemens is guilty as charged.
The genius of this true-life sports thriller is the way the authors painstakingly research each of the characters in the story, gather all available evidence and then connect the dots to reveal the dark side of the game: a world of cheating, lying and fame.
Art Gould is a former newspaper reporter and book publisher. He lives in Anniston.