Smart move, Roger. Now the FBI is on your trail, too.
Since things can't get much worse for Clemens and his country lawyer, let's fast-forward through the millions in legal fees about to be incinerated and proceed directly to the bottom line.
They lose, this time in federal court, just like they lost rounds 1, 2 and 3 in the court of public opinion.
Instead of going home, Clemens goes to jail. Soon after, he's joined by Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada and any other ballplayer arrogant or dumb enough to think that the feds won't push back. The lesson here is that if you lie to enough people, at some point someone is going to take it personally.
(Speaking of which: Has there ever been a more appropriately named lawyer than Rusty Hardin? This guy's legal expertise apparently peaked around the time that ``Perry Mason'' was a hit TV show.
First, Hardin broadcasts a secretly recorded phone conversation that makes his client sound like some budding Mafioso. Then he begs Congress to make a federal case out of it. Next he warns an IRS special agent, ``If he ever messes with Roger, Roger will eat his lunch.'' Now Hardin says he's thankful to be going to a real court, ``where there are rules and people can be held properly accountable for outrageous statements.'' Wait until he discovers the cell doors in prison have working locks on them.)
But step back for a moment and ask this question: Should government be in the business of assembling the best prison team that taxpayer money can buy?
Ballplayers lie about all kinds of things, and so does everybody else, in public and private. There are penalties for perjury, and with good reason.
But is the public interest really being served by providing three squares and a scratchy new home uniform to a handful of millionaire ballplayers? Probably not, it says here.
It's too late to stop the wheels of justice from grinding. The FBI confirmed Thursday it will be looking into every sordid detail of Clemens' testimony to Congress, and there are plenty. So to limit how much good money we throw after bad, let's offer a sentencing alternative to judges and juries while there's still time.
d contribute a few hundred hours of community service. Then let it go.
Special treatment?
Maybe. But is anybody worried that by the time the Justice Department is through wringing out Clemens - or Bonds and Tejada, for that matter - we won't have our pound of flesh, and more?
Clemens has already had to explain away a sore on his butt in front of the nation, been mocked for ``misremembering'' conversations and the English language, and admit that his wife wasn't shy about needles, either.
Just wait until FBI agents get through refreshing Roger's memory about the infamous Jose Canseco barbecue a decade ago. Soon, he'll have to repeat a joke he's apparently been telling in the clubhouse for years; about how Debbie Clemens and Canseco's ex-wife, Jessica, spent part of the soiree comparing the quality of their breast implants. You think dinner-table conversation at the Clemens household isn't strained already?
And if all that isn't punishment enough, don't worry. The feds are just getting started. Clemens' reputation is already in tatters and by the time he comes up for a vote in the Hall of Fame, it won't good for anything but confetti.
Finally, it's not like there aren't enough cautionary tales about using performance-enhancing drugs out there. When Clemens pal Andy Pettitte came clean in a nearly hour-long news conference about his own HGH use, he said, ``If you're doing anything and you see what I've put through and what Roger has been put through, I think you clean yourself up real quick. I would think they would think twice about doing it one more day.''
The beauty of telling the truth is that it sets you free, but there's more. In the long run, it turns out to be a lot cheaper, too.
---
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitkeap.org

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