Truth Is, Roger Clemens Will Face Two “Grand” Juries

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There's a nice sense of symmetry between the news of a federal grand jury convening to decide if Roger Clemens should be indicted for perjury and the announcement of the BBWAA vote totals for the Baseball Hall of Fame. The grand jury gets first crack, but the second group will get their chance to weigh Clemens' innocence or guilt in a few years time.

In neither case will the people deciding have any concrete proof that Clemens used steroids and HGH during his playing career. Not that it matters. The voters of the BBWAA don't have that proof when it comes to Mark McGwire and only 118 of them thought him worthy of enshrinement in his third year on the ballot. That's 10 fewer than he got in his first two tries, a sure sign that steroids are being held against players associated with their use. There are probably a handful who don't think he was a good enough player, but the majority are responding to those whispers, which will make the Clemens case an interesting one.

Clemens isn't in McGwire's class when it comes to HOF evaluations. He's a first-tier, reason for Cooperstown's existence case based on his playing record. The type of player who would, under normal circumstances, challenge to become the first unanimous entry into the Hall. If this indictment goes down, however, and if Clemens is found guilty of perjury, he'll struggle to make it in his first year of eligibility.

If rumors of steroid use are enough for writers to disqualify McGwire and his 583 home runs, they'll likely be enough to keep 25.1% from voting for Clemens in his first year on the ballot. A Cooperstown without Clemens, while including the likes of Jim Rice and Goose Gossage, is unthinkable and contrary to the whole idea in the first place. That means Clemens will get in at some point, but the blow of missing out on getting in the first time would be a severe one that got a lot more likely today.  

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