Toronto Sun baseball columnist Bob Elliott, who covered Clemens with the Blue Jays, says he will vote yes. “He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer five years ago, he's the same today, and he'll be the same five years from now,” Elliott said.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News also plan to put a checkmark in the box next to Clemens’ name when he first appears on the ballot. “There have been widespread rumors for years on Clemens, and the Mitchell Report does not change my view that he is a Hall of Famer,” Nightengale said. Ringolsby noted, “"I think what this report shows is that baseball, like other sports, went through a period of time that will be forever blemished, but it also shows this was an industry-wide situation, not isolated cases. During his career Clemens was as dominate, if not the most dominate, of any pitcher in the game. Hopefully lessons will be learned from what happened, in that, we have a tendency in all phases of life, to try and find an edge on our competition and often that edge is used without a full understanding of the long-term implications.”
The St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin is also inclined to vote for Clemens, though he will do so in pencil for now. “Based on what I know now, Roger Clemens would have my vote for the Hall of Fame,” Topkin said. “But I reserve the right to change my mind."
Two Hall voters who are definitely opposed to Clemens’ enshrinement are the Dayton Daily News’ Hal McCoy and Newark Star-Ledger’s Dan Graziano, who covered Clemens with the Yankees. “I won't vote for cheaters,” McCoy said. “I said that about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. So I have to say it about Roger Clemens, too. He cheated and he wasn't participating on a level playing field with guys who chose to play the game the right way.”
Said Graziano, “My personal feeling on this is that the Hall of Fame is a reward, and I don't intend to reward people who cheated in an effort to get there. I did not vote for Mark McGwire last year and have no plans to vote for him in the future. Similarly, I have no plans to vote for Barry Bonds. As to the argument that he was a Hall of Famer before he took the stuff, I submit that (a) we don't know that for sure and (b) I don't care. If Clemens or Bonds wasn't satisfied with simply being great, and decided he needed to cheat in order to become immortal, my feeling is that I should not reward him for that.”
As a matter of full disclosure, I have been a BBWAA member for 20 years and will be filling out my 11th Hall ballot before the end of the month. Despite many conflicted feelings, I would vote yes on Clemens if forced to make a decision today. I have reached the point where I am no longer certain that any player has been drug free in the past 15 years. Being that I have not been blessed with psychic powers, I have no way of knowing who has played by the rules and who has cheated.
Therefore, I can only go by the numbers, and Clemens has 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, and a most impressive 3.12 ERA during a career in which the league average has been 4.38. To me, those numbers clearly say Hall of Fame.