The New Roger Clemens Books: He's A Steroid-Using A-Hole, and The Chron's Wimpy

Roger Clemens is no longer the only former professional baseball player under investigation for lying to Congress. With the Tuesday revelation that Sammy Sosa was one of the 104 MLB players to test positive for PED use in 2003 (along with Alex Rodriguez) comes the word that a congressional committee is looking into whether Sosa lied to Congress when he testified in 2005 that he had never used a PED. And this brings about a good time to check in on Clemens, about who there has been relatively little news recently. Actually, except for a vague claim that he's willing to answer some questions for the blog Houstonist -- which from what I can tell has yet to happen -- there's not been much news from the Rocket camp lately.

There have, however, been a couple of books published about Clemens in the past couple of months, and I thought I would discuss those.  They are The Rocket That Fell To Earth:  Roger Clemens And The Rage For Baseball Immortality by Jeff Pearlman, who also authored a bio of Barry Bonds several years ago, and American Icon: The Fall Of Roger Clemens And The Rise Of Steroids In America's Pastime by the investigative team at the New York Daily News which has broken many of the hot stories on the Rocket since he was named in The Mitchell Report.

Pearlman's book is more a biography than it is steroids expose, and he looks at the life of Rocket from his youth in Ohio through his team-jumping among Texas high schools and colleges and into his professional career. I was actually looking forward to this book the most because Pearlman's Love Me, Hate Me about Barry Bonds was about the only thing I've ever read that exposed just about everything there was know about Bonds, yet was still able to portray him as a somewhat sympathetic human being, and I wanted to see what Pearlman could do with Clemens. But Pearlman's unable to do anything sympathetic with Clemens.

The only real revelations from Pearlman's book, besides Clemens being a lifelong ass, are that he actually was injured in Game Six of the 1986 World Series; Mindy McCready was 17, not 15, when the two met; and that the Chron's sports department attempted to hire an investigative reporter to investigate Rocket in 2004, but that management denied the request. And reading the book, it's amazing how easily most members of the media fell for the myth of Rocket -- Pearlman's especially hard on some of the guys at the Chron. The book further reinforces the notion that Clemens was the one guy you didn't want on the mound for an important game, and reminds everybody that maybe, just maybe Dan Duquette was right back in 1997 when he said Clemens was done.

American Icon is the steroids expose. It picks up with Clemens arriving in Toronto and getting his first shot from Brian McNamee. It doesn't bother with a biography of Clemens though, since one of the main sources is Brian McNamee and his legal team, there is lots of background info on him. There's lots of info regarding the infamous incidents with Mike Piazza, lots of stuff about Mindy McCready, and lots and lots of information regarding the infamous 1998 party at Jose Canseco's where Rocket supposedly first got the steroids.  

There is some great detail regarding the Feds (and George Mitchell) getting to McNamee. Though specifics aren't divulged, nor witnesses or sources named, the authors make it clear that they've got another credible witness that has never been made public who places Clemens at the party, and they strongly imply that the Feds have fully tested and vetted the needles and bandages saved by McNamee, and that they are satisfied everything matches up and definitely ties them to Rocket.

Most interesting are the stories about the preparations and appearance before Congress. Rusty Hardin comes off as an even huger boob than he has previously appeared. There's an exhaustive breakdown of nanny-gate, and how it would never have happened if Hardin hadn't made Rocket's so-called appearance at that Canseco party the linchpin of their defense. As in Pearlman's book, the Chron comes off pretty bad. And the book is really good in exposing the steroids/HGH culture in Houston-area gyms.

Both books have problems. Neither one can spell Jimy Williams correctly, and there's the conflict over the age of McCready when she met Rocket. Pearlman's book is best in the younger years of Rocket's life, before he reaches the majors, but somewhat superficial in the later years. The Daily News book suffers from being a bit too slanted towards McNamee, and it relies too much on anonymous sources. There's nothing really earth-shattering in either book. Clemens is a womanizing jerk who used PEDs, constantly lied about his past, and still has no legitimate reason for throwing a part of a bat at Piazza.

And here's some bonus trivia from the books: Andy Pettitte's original attorney was Rusty Hardin. He then went to a guy based out of Pittsburgh known as Jay Reisinger. Reisinger is back in the news because he was the attorney sitting next to and representing one Sammy Sosa when Sosa appeared before Congress in 2005 and conveniently forgot how to speak English.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal