With Roger Clemens’ acquittal on perjury charges regarding his testimony about taking steroids, the Major League Baseball performance-enhancing drug (PED) issue is back in the national spotlight.
While Clemens’ was acquitted by a jury of his peers, he still has to face the jury of baseball journalists who vote for the Hall of Fame. In dealing with other suspected or admitted steroids users, the Hall of Fame voters have not been particularly forgiving.
According to a recent article by Tim Keown in ESPN the Magazine, however, there is reason to believe that forgiveness is becoming more common, and for one particular reason: fatigue. Keown argues that the public has grown tired of the steroids saga. For proof, he compares the uproar following the initial revelations about sluggers like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds to the relative calm that has surrounded the recent Ryan Braun case.
Unlike McGwire and Bonds, Braun was actually suspended by MLB for a positive steroids test, but the suspension was overturned when a mediator determined that the test procedures were slightly inconsistent with expectations. Despite his positive test, Braun has faced very little scrutiny and has returned fairly easily to his regular baseball routine, according to Keown.
If Keown is right and the baseball world has become disinterested in PED stories, then Clemens’ first shot at the Hall of Fame will be telling. Hall of Fame voters have been hard on suspected steroid users in the past, but they have had the force of public sentiment in the past.
As the public becomes disinterested, MLB loses suspension appeals on technicalities, and the US government runs out of players to charge with perjury, baseball writers may be the only group left to hold players accountable for steroids use.