Face it, we're hypocrites, just like the guys we root for. Here's why:
When McGwire was called to testify, we crucified him for saying nothing. We wanted to hear (what we thought would be) the truth, or at least something, anything. Hasn't been heard from since.
When Palmiero wagged his finger in Congress' face, we cheered. When he got caught testing positive a few weeks later, we skewered him. Hasn't been heard from since.
When Giambi was nailed thru leaked testimony, he sweated his way thru a pseudo-apology, without ever saying "steroids" or "HGH", only that he was sorry for doing "that stuff". Hasn't been the same player since, oft-injured, broken down.
When Bonds was outted in the Balco mess, we boo'd (except those in SF). He was lying (we believe). He's a bad guy (hard to really argue that). He did it not to get healthy, or remain in the game. He was already a man with HOF credentials but he wanted to go higher. How dare he? He hasn't gone away, chosing to thumb his nose at everything, including the indictment this off-season. He faces jail time on perjury charges. He will not go gently into that dark night.
When Clemens was outted, he launched (pardon the rocket pun) a major offensive attack. Like Bonds, he was already a HOF-caliber player who allegedly/reportedly used to ascend past the pinnacle of the sport into the most elite ever. He didn't admit it like Pettitte, probably because he either didn't do it (I doubt this) or he's trying to persuade the public. Or maybe, as McNamee mentioned, he actually believes his own story in spite of the truth.
As the 60 Minutes interview draws to a close, Clemens, who will repeat his denials in a news conference the next day, discusses the possibility of taking a lie detector test. "I think he's the one guy who could probably beat the test," McNamee opines. "He might actually believe that he's telling the truth."
So what do we, the public, want? Do we want guys to go quietly, tacitly admitting guilt, like Big Mac? Do we want gentle admissions with justifications (ie: "trying to return from injury")? Do we want them to give the public a big, fat F-bomb? Or do we want them kicking and screaming that they are indeed innocent, even going so far as filing defamation lawsuits? If you were a PR flack, what would YOU advise your client to do?
Here's another random thought on Clemens: if he were a beloved figure, maybe the public would be more sympathetic. But Clemens is not beloved. He's viewed as a mercenary. If this were Ripken or Gwynn or Molitor or Jeter, there might be a great sense of empathy. But for Clemens, as a mercenary, he was never beloved. He was cheered by the fans of the team he played for but I honestly don't think most fans took him into their hearts the way they do for "their guys".
If we were wrongly accused of doing something serious at work (pick your transgression), how would you act if you were indeed innocent? I'd like to believe I'd react like Clemens, launching a full assault to protect my name and reputation. And so why can't we believe Clemens is innocent? Because he defied nature? So did Nolan Ryan, right? Who's to say Ryan was clean. He retired in 1993, during the early stages of the "Steroid Era". Want something scary: Ryan and Jose Canseco were teammates in 1992-3. Not accusing, just saying
So how can any player, if accused, sway the court of public opinion? I have no idea. But I do know this, I'd want that player to react more like Clemens than McGwire. I can't ask more of Clemens than all he's doing. If he's actually lying, I'm not sure if I am more impressed with his bluster or more offended for being so blatantly lied to.
And just for fun: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!