Finally, Roger Clemens has been indicted for perjury. When testifying before Congress on steroid use in professional baseball, Clemens said, “I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it. I never used steroids. Never performance-enhancing steroids.” His trainer, however, told a different story, saying that he had injected Clemens with steroids more than a dozen times. Clemens’s friend and teammate on the New York Yankees, Andy Pettite, said that Clemens had admitted to using steroids — to which Clemens artfully responded that Petitte must have misheard him.
What makes this all the more delicious is that when Clemens testified before Congress, he was not under subpoena — he volunteered to testify. Tom Davis, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, said, “[Clemens] wanted to come to the committee and clear his name. And I sat there in the office with Henry Waxman and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t lie.’ … He could have just let it go, but he denied it vociferously before Congress. Several times, we gave him the opportunity to back down, and he didn’t.”
In a statement issued after his indictment, Clemens asked the public not to rush to judgment. But because of his hubris — υβρις, that form of extreme pride that leads to arrogance, insolence, and haughtiness — I sure find myself rushing to judgment. Clemens was considered by many to be one of the best pitchers who ever played baseball, but he always exuded arrogance, and it always seemed that he thought himself to be better than anyone else. If he really is guilty of using steroids, I can’t believe he could ever admit it, not even to himself. And if he really is innocent, I will never completely believe his innocence precisely because of his extreme arrogance.
Clemens has offended the gods of baseball — not by using steroids, but by making himself seem more powerful than the game itself. For this act of hubris, he is being publicly humiliated.
And I want Aeschylus to come back to life, and write a play about it.