By Jason Keidel
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Smell that?

Take a big whiff, a Tony Montana-style snort, and you’ll find the aroma of relativism surrounding the Roger Clemens case. And, unlike napalm in the morning, it doesn’t smell like victory.

Grab a gloat. Lying to congress is an oxymoron. Worry about the war. Stop selling guns to gangs in Mexico. Casey Anthony got off, so why not Rocket?

Since there’s an element of truth to the assertions, folks feel they may belch them with impunity, forgetting that it’s not that simple. Believe it or not, the government, in its infinite incompetence, can wage a war and still fill a pothole. And it can surely convict Roger Clemens of perjury. These matters are not mutually exclusive.

It’s not that Clemens lied to a bunch of liars. It’s not even that Clemens, as an avatar for millions of kids took steroids and lied about it under oath. Parents should teach their kids about right and wrong.

No, I’ll take Door No. 3: he cheated our pastime, and that’s something that resonates among all ages.

Worse, he was great without the stuff. Like his symbolic brother of the steroid epoch, Barry Bonds, Clemens is the de facto face of the problem. A legend, an near immortal in a game that trades on legacy, Roger Clemens wasn’t happy enough with great. He needed Greatest. Sorry, Roger, but I’m afraid there’s only one Muhammad Ali, and millions before you have tried to be him and failed. There’s only one Cy Young, too, the best Boston pitcher before you arrived at Fenway sometime in the 1980s.

You’re happy Clemens walked because, well, why are you happy? There are no winners here, except, perhaps, the system. Even a moron like Clemens deserves a fair trial, and the judge presiding over the case warned the prosecution several times to stop flaunting inadmissible evidence in front of the jury. It was the judge who ruled the items inadmissible and hence some rebellious barristers flipped the symbolic bird at the very judge trying their case. Not the first time a lawyer acted the fool. Thus we have all the lawyer jokes.

But Clemens is still a joke, and he made a mockery of our sport, the one we’ve assumed is played fairly even if it’s unfair that we don’t have their talent to play it. Sure, he was just one cheater among a legion of liars. But he was the biggest fish, and should have been at least partially fillet.

I really don’t care how long Roger Clemens was supposed to be in jail. Just one day was enough for me, just for the symbolism, the inescapable truth that you can’t cheat the very people who paid your salary – fans – made you millions and almost assured your place among the immortals. Almost.

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What’s the takeaway from the Clemens mistrial? Is there one?

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