Attacking McNamee’s Credibility

Hank: We'd give Johan only five years
Two deadlines arrive on January 11

There’s been plenty on the Brian McNamee/Roger Clemens front over the past few days. Although I’d love nothing more than to see this whole thing just disappear, it’s not going to, which means we’re stuck with it. First thing I caught on it this morning was a piece on ESPN, where McNamee’s lawyers are looking to expose a conversation between McNamee and Clemens which took place on the day before the Mitchell report was revealed.

“They should ask for the entire tape of the interview back in December. That’s the tape they should ask for,” Earl Ward, one of McNamee’s lawyers, said Tuesday. “According to Brian, they tried to get him to recant. Brian said, look, what I told the [Mitchell and federal] investigators was the truth.”

If that’s the extent of the conversation, I’m not sure how much it helps McNamee’s case. However, if his lawyers are pushing for its release, there’s bound to be a bit more revealing information contained therein.

But then I caught a piece in Slam! Sports which aims to trounce McNamee’s credibility. In fact, just three paragraphs in, we’re treated to this quote:

“I hope baseball is not putting all of its case on this one witness because in my 32 years as an investigator, I would not find him to be very credible,” Florida state attorney office investigator Don Crotty said yesterday.

Crotty’s distrust of McNamee stems from an incident back in 2001, where a number of Yankees were having a party in Florida — which incidentally started in Chuck Knoblauch’s room. Outside, investigators found a woman passed out in a swimming pool. She had been drugged with GHB. McNamee was implicated, but never charged, since prosecutors didn’t think the victim’s case would hold up — because he had slept with a married member of the team. Crotty believed that McNamee was dishonest with him when questioned pursuant to the case.

It also appears that Brian referred to himself sometimes as Dr. McNamee:

An investigation showed his doctorate earned at Columbus University in Louisiana is now Columbus out of Mississippi, since Louisiana closed its operation in 2001 for handing out degrees to many who did “little or no academic work.”

The article says that Clemens actually believed that McNamee had a medical degree.

Also discrediting McNamee is his tenure with the NYPD. Though he was involved in many high-profile cases, including the death of Eric Clapton’s son, he’ll never shed the 30-day suspension he received for his negligence in the escape of a prisoner.

And then we have the issue of physical proof of Roger’s use of steroids. The Blue Jays team chiropractor at the time Roger was with the team didn’t see the telltale signs of steroid use:

“I worked with him daily and didn’t see any signs of steroid use,” Dr. Patrick Graham told The Sun yesterday. “I didn’t notice any rashes, acne or increased muscle mass or structure.”

“I think I would have seen signs of it,” he said, adding he always thought the Rocket’s success in Toronto was because of his newly developed “split-fingered fastball.”

Even after Clemens left the Jays organization, he would come in for a back treatment whenever in Toronto and Graham said he observed no body changes. “I haven’t seen him for two years, but I just don’t think he was on steroids.”

Professional trainer Phil Zullo, of North York’s Pro-Fit, agrees — saying if Clemens took the amount of steroids and the type McNamee alleges in the report, he would have ended up looking like Hulk Hogan. “With the way Roger works out and trains, he would have been a giant,” said Zullo, who did not work with Clemens but has always been known to be against the use of any substances for the amateur and professional athletes he trains.

True, none of this proves that Clemens didn’t do steroids. But then again, is he ever going to be able to prove that?

My stance remains the same as it has since the beginning, in that I don’t think he has to prove that he didn’t. Clearly, my opinion differs with much of the public. But why should Roger have to go to these lengths to defend himself against one person, with a spotty history, who was facing jail time? If there was more than one source of this allegation, then yeah, maybe Roger has to up his defense. But I don’t see the reason to assume the worst when we’re talking about the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence.

Once again, though, it’s my deepest desire to see this story go away.

Hank: We'd give Johan only five years
Two deadlines arrive on January 11
  • Rob

    Very well said. It’s simply amazing to me that Mitchell would base his entire case against so many players from the word of one person. If so, the least he could have done is investigate that one person further. Obviously he didn’t. I really hope this goes to trial. Clemens wins and the whole report comes crashing down.

  • E-ROC

    Clemens is innocent until proven guilty. “They” have yet to prove he’s taken any “illegal” drugs to improve his performance, not that I care.

  • E-ROC

    The “court of public opinion” has already found him guilty. We’ve fallen into the trap of “guilty until proven innocent.” Nobody has provided any solid proof of Clemens taking steroids, not that I care. It’s not as if Fehr or Selig or the owners did anything about the use of PEDs. The sooner this goes away, the better it will be for baseball. Thanks Mitch for the report!

    • Raf

      No one has provided solid proof that “PEDs” (note how generic the term is) actually work.

  • Steve S

    Powell had a surprisingly honest column on Its sad because now its turned into the media scrambling to make sure Clemens is guilty because they jumped on him as soon as the Pettitte stuff came out, which was irresponsible. I just dont get how you can listen to that taped conversation and come away with the fact that McNamee doesnt seem suspicious and there is a strong possibility that he lied. I understand there isnt clear proof on Clemens side either, but if I were a writer or on TV I would have heard that tape and said maybe we should withhold judgement or at least do some investigation McNamee and the people who solicited the testimony from him. No one has answered one question for me. If federal/state prosecutors gave McNamee and Radomsky immunity for their cooperation with the Mitchell people, and the same federal/state prosecutors are not bring an action against any of the players these guys named, then what was the point of the investgation by the feds/state auth???? I have never heard of this in my life. Thats why it makes more sense to me that these prosecutors were looking for these guys to drop BIG names. Because i still dont understand what the government benefitted from having two guys who they had dead to right cooperate with a private;y funded investigation.

  • Rob

    “Thats why it makes more sense to me that these prosecutors were looking for these guys to drop BIG names. Because i still dont understand what the government benefitted from having two guys who they had dead to right cooperate with a privately funded investigation.”

    That’s exactly it. It’s the war on drugs – ain’t it grand. Why worry about prosecution when you can pin a Scarlett letter on a famous user? Besides, the feds probably realized they couldn’t get a conviction on McNamee or Radomsky, but they weren’t exactly going to tell them that.

  • Realist

    This was Mitchell’s “smoking gun” against the yanks and it now has misfired! Like I said before this guy had no business conducting this investigation while representing a team….not to mention being a former!

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out:-)

  • Emma

    Wait a minute — someone was drugged with GHB and possibly raped at a Yankees party? How come that wasn’t a bigger story at the time? Seems a bit more important than who took steroids when, doesn’t it?

    I have no idea whether McNamee’s lying about Clemens, but this article certainly removed any possible shred of respect or sympathy I felt for the guy:

  • Realist

    Agreed Emma! I do remember the story back in ’01 and if I am not mistaken one of the reasons The Yank’s wanted to rid themselves of Knobby? Not to mention his playing ofcourse , which was deteriorating to say the least…but a contributing factor non the less.

  • Samples

    “…he always thought the Rocket’s success in Toronto was because of his newly developed “split-fingered fastball.”

    I’ve thought the same since the first day the report came out and I’m surprised that its taken this long for someone else to mention it. Can anyone confirm that indeed he started throwing the splitty after leaving the Sox, when everyone says his career turned around? Adding a pitch like that could absolutely explain his resurgence.

  • Rich

    If there hadn’t been a PED epidemic in MLB, Clemens might deserve the benefit, but since there is, every player in MLB is under suspicion. When you couple that with allegations that were deemed credible by federal agents and Sen. Mitchell, a person of unquestioned integrity, there is a reasonable basis for believing that Clemens did PEDs.

    • Realist

      Why does Mitchell have “unquestioned integrity”???? What is your basis for saying that? Please don’t say because he was a politician…that will only hurt your retort.

      I agree PEDs , as you put it , were and probably still are prevelant in MLB. I also don’t believe that predominatly Yankee players and an ex Sox legend , who left at their dismay , were targeted fairly by this “witch hunt”.

      I also realise that at the said times of these supposed transgressions that HGH wasn’t a banned substance.

      On top of ALL this the “snitch” Mitchell choose has had his integrity questioned in terms of using a “date rape” drug and other indiscretions. Seems to have a lot of holes in it , if you ask me ;-)

      • Rich

        Even Clemens’s atty, Rusty Hardin, acknowledged Mitchell’s integrity in the press conference on Monday.

        I don’t think Mitchell “chose” McNamee. He merely became available as a result of his name being given to investigators by Radomsky.

        Rightly or wrongly, most successful criminal prosecutions in this country are highly reliant on testimony provided by people who have character issues. They are given plea bargains in order to get them to offer incriminating information. That is the process that led to McNamee’s testimony.

        We now know that McNamee’s allegations against Pettitte were truthful, so he has at least some credibility on this issue.

        btw, David Segui, in today’s Newsday, defends McNamee.

        • Steve S

          I can question Mitchell’s integrity for his mere participation in the investigation. As a legal professional there about a dozen conflicts of interests in his role in the report, a complete disregard for constituional rights, civil liberties, rules of evdience.

          I have a question Rich, how many witnesses/plea bargains involve cooperation with a private business investigation? How many plea bargains are struck in this country by the dealers in order to implicate the user? Who is being prosecuted as a result of McNamee’s testimony? Is the federal government bring an action against Clemens and Pettitte? Did Senator Mitchell perform any independent investigation or due diligence regarding McNamee and his background?

          Let me ask this, why has it taken this long for anyone in the media to actually examine McNamee? Why has Roger Clemens been crucified and Brian McNamee, who in 2006 vehemently denied that Clemens took any steroids is taken at face value. yet he hasnt shown his face once. I wish people would stop being so naive and read between the line a little bit. Im not saying Clemens is innocent but he sure is hell is doing more than anyone else has to prove that he is innocent. While McNamee hides behind a couple of ACLU attorneys. Take the rubber stamp of a “Senator”, because I know the government and specifically members of Congress are the most honorable people out there, without any ethical weak points.

          • Rich

            The most pernicious aspect of conflicts of interest are when they are undisclosed. Mitchell’s conflicts are well known to everyone, so while it may have been wise to choose someone else to conduct this investigation, I don’t think the mere fact that there were disclosed conflicts reflects negatively on Mitchell’s integrity.

            As for the crim pro and constitutional issues, let’s also kind in mind that none of the MLB players named faces loss of life, liberty, or property as a result of the investigation (to the contrary, suspected users like Guillen and Gagne are still getting huge contracts), so I’m not sure why constitutional protections are necessarily required.

            • Rich

              (I was prevented from writing a longer post above, so I am continuing here:)

              Perhaps if the MLBPA would have offered to cooperate in the investigagtion under a given set of conditions, they could have leveraged that cooperation to ensure that the players received procedural due process rights, or they could have conducted their own investigation. That may have mooted any concerns about the fitness of Mitchell to conduct this investigation.

              As for your point about McNamee’s inconsistent statement, as we heard on the tape that Clemens’s atty played, the guy seemed to desperately want to protect Clemens, and only outed him when faced with jail time. So I don’t think it’s particularly surprising that he would make disingenuous statements in order to protect Clemens when he wasn’t faced with such jeopardy.

  • E-ROC

    Why should every player be under suspicion because many were taking PEDs? That isn’t fair. Not every player was or is taking PEDs. So you lump them with the users? That doesn’t make sense. Oh, I see. It’s “guilty until proven innocent.”

    • Rich

      I agree that it may not be fair, but that’s a widely held perception.

      I think a large portion of the blame falls on the clean players for not speaking out and taking action to confront the problem. After all, the MLBPA represents the clean players as well as the users. If the majority of players are clean, why aren’t they doing more to represent their interests? It’s time that the MLBPA stopped acting like criminal defense attorneys. As I mentioned above, conducting their own investigation would have been a useful step.

      As for the presumption of innocence, that only applies to the courtroom. No one is facing criminal charges.

  • Paddy

    McNamee told him to do what he liked. They never discussed the subject again.
    1.) Pettitte first asked McNamee about using human growth hormone during the 2001-02 offseason, the report says, and McNamee at the time discouraged him from using it. But in the spring of 2002, while Pettitte was recovering from elbow tendinitis, McNamee injected Pettitte with HGH. In 2003, when the BALCO case first broke, Pettitte asked McNamee what to say if asked about performance enhancers. McNamee told him to do what he liked. They never discussed the subject again.

    While trying to expand beyond his Yankees training duties, McNamee began referring to himself as Dr. McNamee in his side gigs. He was featured in InVite’s promotional magazine as “Dr. Brian McNamee, Ph.D,” used the e-mail address “McNameePHD,” and told people he had earned his doctorate at Columbus University in Louisiana. Columbus now operates out of Mississippi, after the state of Louisiana shut it down in 2001 for being a “diploma mill,” churning out degrees to people who did little or no academic work.
    Despite his efforts to branch out, McNamee kept a low profile until October of 2001, when he was suddenly in the New York tabloids. According to police reports, an employee of a St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel where the Yankees were staying had noticed a man and a woman apparently having sex in the hotel pool, while another man looked on from a few feet away. All three were naked in the pool. One of the men, Charles Wonsowicz, the former St. John’s pitcher who was now the Yankees’ video technician, left immediately when confronted by the employee. The other, McNamee, continued to hold on to the woman until the hotel employee asked him to leave again, according to police documents.

  • Paddy

    that is my blog on espn. i am in the trenches on this one. espn sux.

    had acquired anabolic steroids and 12 others who had obtained other drugs.”
    The report said ‘Hallinan told us [Mitchell] the Perez incident could have been the most important in the `steroids investigation.’ But to his disappointment, he was not given permission to interview the major-league players on the list.” luis perez

  • Paddy luis perez
    The report said ‘Hallinan told us [Mitchell] the Perez incident could have been the most important in the `steroids investigation.’ But to his disappointment, he was not given permission to interview the major-league players on the list.”
    Major League Baseball never would have interviewed Perez about steroid use, but in 2002 while working with the Expos, Perez asked a Marlins clubhouse attendant to take a bag back to Florida for him.