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Acquittal could boost Clemens' Hall bid

NEW YORK -- Cleared in court, Roger Clemens will now take his case before a larger jury: some 600 Hall of Fame voters.

Twelve jurors acquitted him Monday on charges of lying to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. Come December, the voters will decide whether Clemens — one of the best pitchers in baseball history — should be granted or denied the game's highest honor.

“I think everybody believes he was guilty in some form or fashion,” said John Harper of the New York Daily News, who doesn't plan to vote for Clemens. “I think that's the real issue as far as voters go. I know that's an issue for me.”

ESPN reporter/analyst Tim Kurkjian, a Hall voter for more than two decades, said: “It doesn't change how I view him. I think he did something and they just couldn't prove it. I think most rational people look at it that way. I was going to vote for him anyway.”

Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa all will be first-timers on the ballot, which in some ways will be a referendum for the Steroids Era. Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio also will be making their initial appearances.

“To me, Roger Clemens was a Hall of Famer from the moment he retired, just like Barry Bonds,” San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins said. “I don't much care for them as people, but that's irrelevant, and I've never believed in the Hall of Fame's 'character' clause. It never seemed to apply to a number of shady characters who made the Hall of Fame over the years, so I simply ignore it. I base my vote on the best players during their time. Cheating has been part of the game since its inception, whether it was gambling, doctored balls or pre-steroid drugs. It's as essential to the game's fabric as the sacrifice fly.”

Asked about Clemens' chances for making the Hall, NBC's Bob Costas said: “A guilty verdict would have damaged his reputation. It remains to be seen how much or if this verdict helps it.”

Costas doesn't cast a ballot; Hall of Fame voters are veteran members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

“I think some people will assume that he may very well have lied, but that the government couldn't prove it,” former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent said. “They may have real reservations about his record in light of those questions. But I think it modestly improves his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame.”

Clemens spent 4 years proclaiming his innocence after Brian McNamee, his former personal trainer, told baseball investigator George Mitchell that he injected the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone about 16 to 21 times during 1998, 2000 and 2001.

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 Israel to host Under-21 Euros in 2013: UEFA 
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens holds back tears as he talks to the media outside federal court in Washington, Monday, June 18 after his acquittal on charges of lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs.

(AP)

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