August 21, 2010 at 1:00 am

John Niyo

No surprise in way Roger Clemens is handling indictment

Roger Clemens, right, was charged Thursday with obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury for his testimony during a 2008 hearing on Capitol Hill. (Getty Images)

If you were expecting an apology, well, sorry.

And if you were hoping to hear a mea culpa, that's your fault.

Roger Clemens built a would-be Hall of Fame career by throwing high, hard heat, and by challenging hitters, not by pitching around trouble.

So that's how he'll ruin it, too, defiant to the end.

No one, least of all Clemens, should have been surprised by the six-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury Thursday. The seven-time Cy Young winner was charged with obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury for his testimony during a 2008 hearing on Capitol Hill.

Deny, deny, deny

And just as he denied the damning evidence in the Mitchell Report that February day -- raising his right hand and hurling himself into harm's way -- he's denying it now.

"I never took HGH or steroids," Clemens wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. "And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."

His high-priced legal team, led by Rusty Hardin, probably is happy, too, as those legal bills really will start to pile up now. Clemens, 48, faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted, though he'd probably serve fewer than two years under federal sentencing guidelines. But he wanted no part of a plea bargain, instead vowing to pitch his way out of another jam.

"Hopefully," Hardin said at a news conference Thursday in Houston, "we haven't reached a stage in this country where you have to admit to something you didn't do."

Apology would be nice

Hopefully, he's not being as disingenuous as he sounds. And who knows? Clemens just might be able to beat this rap.

But common sense suggests otherwise, just as it does with the notion Major League Baseball's steroid era was put to rest with that Mitchell Report. Names were named, but the list was exhaustively incomplete.

The apologies have been, too, frankly. Jose Canseco came clean so he could make money of the stories he knew about others who hadn't. Mark McGwire finally said he was sorry so he could go on with his life and return to the majors as a coach. Jason Giambi said he was "wrong for doing that stuff" but never really bothered to get any more specific than that, outside of his leaked grand jury testimony.

Still, a simple apology -- an acknowledgement of the crime against fair play in sport -- is enough for most fans to forgive, or at least forget.

Clemens could've followed that same path, of course. He could've said nothing or simply said, "I'm sorry" -- like his former friend Andy Pettitte, who might end up testifying against him -- and just let the past pass.

He wasn't subpoenaed by Congress, didn't have to testify and had every right to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights even when he did. But he shook off all the signs, reared back and threw smoke.

In short, he kept pretending to be the "Rocket," which not coincidentally is how he signed his latest Twitter statement, too. Still living a lie, sworn to his own fate.

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