Hold On To That Cheating Label

. Monday, February 11, 2008
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In the words of a wise old man who once scored four touchdowns in one game while playing football for Polk High, "it's only cheating if you get caught."

Okay, so what if Al Bundy is a fictional character? Those words hold truer than what any self-righteous hypocrite would spout off.

Remember Rafael Palmeiro and his finger-pointing testimony at a Congressional hearing about steroids in baseball a few years ago?

Five months after his Oscar-worthy performance in front of the congress, Palmeiro was suspended for ten days after "unintentionaly" testing positive for steroids, and his career has taken a nose dive since then.

Who can forget Barry Bonds? He is the biggest reason that the black cloud of steroid abuse allegations hangs over Major League baseball.

No one wanted Bonds to pass Hank Aaron as the all-time home run king, but he did last August, ending the season with 762 career home runs.

Now, with Spring Training getting set to start, Bonds, a free agent, is waiting, hoping that any team will pick him up, but no one wants to touch a cheater even if he is the best at what he does.

What Bonds and Palmeiro had to learn the hard way was that there is a heavy price to pay for cheating and lying, and they got caught.

Fast forward to the present, and say hello to the next big name in baseball who has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Thanks to his former trainer, Brian McNamee, future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Roger Clemens has been linked to using steroids.

However, before the public rushes to judgment and crucify him, let's give Clemens a chance to defend himself.

Unlike Bonds and Palmeiro, Clemens has been very vocal in his denial to the allegations.

While most people might think Clemens is stupid for even responding to his accusers, especially through the media, I'm probably in the minority of supporters who applaud Clemens for his candor.

While Bonds, Mark Mcguire and Sammy Sosa continue to linger in silence about their ties to steroids, Clemens has chosen to fight to keep his name unassociated with baseball's biggest scandal to date.

Watching him speak at a news conference just days after his name had been mentioned in the Mitchell Report, a report investigating steroid abuse among baseball players, my first thought was that Clemens was an innocent man.

More than a month after he appeared on 60 Minutes to give an interview to Mike Wallace, I feel more strongly about his innocence than ever.

He even has people starting to speak out in support of him like Jose Canseco, the former baseball player turned whistleblower whose book "Juiced" brought attention the rampant use of steroids in the Major Leagues.

Keep in mind that Canseco ratted out Mcguire and several other baseball players, but he recently told Congress in a sworn affidavit that he had neither seen nor heard about Clemens using steroids.

The speculation about Clemens using steroids is baseless other than what former US Senator George Mitchell alleges in his report and from what McNamee has told people about Clemens.

Clemens has not been the most upstanding player during his long career in baseball: He has been accused of pitching at batters' heads intentionally, and his infamous broken bat incident where he threw a broken bat at the feet of Mike Piazza during the 2000 World Series earned him the reputation of being a dirty player.

With all of that said, Clemens may have played the game by his rules at times, but he hasn't shown a propensity for lying or being secretive about taking steroids.

Not yet, at least.