Roger Clemens, future Hall of Famer, welcome to family court.

No, Roger isn’t getting divorced–in fact, former teammate Jose Canseco wrote that Clemens was very devoted and faithful to his wife Debbie during his baseball career. What I mean is this–Clemens has been accused in the Mitchell Report of using steroids. Clemens hotly denies this but throws up his hands in exasperation, repeatedly asking, “How do you prove a negative?”

Well, how do you? This is exactly the position that so many fathers are in when faced with false accusations of domestic violence or child sexual abuse in family court. How do you prove that you didn’t molest your daughter two years ago? How do you prove that you didn’t hit your wife six months ago? It’s very difficult–and very unfair for the falsely accused.

In family court, hundreds of thousands of fathers have faced the same dilemma Roger Clemens does right now, but the stakes aren’t just their reputations, but whether or not they’ll be driven out of their children’s lives. It’s a terrible place to be.

(As to the side issue of whether I think Clemens is culpable or not, I really don’t know. I hate to judge him unfairly, but just as there certainly are some men who do beat their wives despite their protestations of innocence, there were plenty of ballplayers who took steroids, and Clemens might have been one of them.

I will say this–his excellent performance in his later years is not an indicator of steroid use, and may actually be proof against it. Because of Clemens’ exceptionally high strikeout ratios, it could have been expected that he would be effective far, far longer than other pitchers.

People tend to think Clemens had some off years in Boston and then rebounded in Toronto, where he allegedly took steroids. There are a couple problems with this.

One, his best year in Toronto occurred before he is accused of talking steroids. Two, his career in Boston didn’t slide nearly as much as people thought–a lot of it was bad run support, and even in off-years he still had a lot of strikeouts. Fenway Park back then was also a hitter’s park, and it could be expected that Clemens’ performance might improve after leaving it.

Why would Clemens’ longevity indicate that he didn’t take steroids? Because steroids wreck the body over time. The steroid pattern is a sudden improvement, a few great years, then injury upon injury and an early retirement. If Clemens was taking steroids in any great measure, I’m skeptical he could have lasted as long as he did.)

Glenn Sacks, www.GlennSacks.com

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