I bet this isn’t what Bud Selig and George Mitchell had in mind when the Mitchell Report hit the streets in December.
After nearly two months of back-and-forth posturing in the press and the halls of Congress, it’s come down to two men. Only Brian McNamee and his one-time client and current arch-rival Roger Clemens will testify in front of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. According to numerous reports, Andy Pettitte did not want to testify in public against Roger Clemens, and the committee was satisfied with the deposition testimony it received from Chuck Knoblach and Kurt Radomski, the other New York-based trainer named in the Report. Somewhere, Paul Lo Duca just breathed a giant sigh of relief.
In related news, Jim Baumbach and Robert E. Kessler of Newsday reported that Pettitte’s testimony confirms McNamee’s story and contradicts Clemens’ vehement denials. For Clemens, this will be utterly devastating, and Andy Pettitte, who has long idolized and respected Roger, must not feel too great about the current situation.
From a Yankee perspective, this circus is either ending or just starting. For better or worse, Roger Clemens is now forever linked to the Yankees because of the Mitchell Report fallout and the time of his supposed drug use, the bulk of which is reported to have occurred during his time in the Bronx. If Pettitte’s testimony, part of the public record, shows Clemens’ recent denials to be a façade, the media circus will swarm around Tampa next week like no other. If not, this strange tale of drugs, syringes and gauze will play out in Congress.
For Clemens, this news on the eve of the hearing cannot be good. On Wednesday, two men — one player out of the 89 named in the report — and one trainer will face down a Congressional committee annoyed by the way this drama has played out. One of them will emerge from the committee room most likely the subject of a perjury inquiry and a disgraced man. I wonder what odds Protrade would give on that one.
Finally, there’s always Bud Selig standing in the corner. With this latest development, the Mitchell Report and its original intentions have been launched out the window. No longer is this about stopping steroids in baseball. No longer is that incomplete document that randomly named 89 out of what has to be hundreds of drug users the focus of attention. Rather, it is about only the biggest name in the document and the saga that has played itself out on TV stations and newspapers across the country. It’s about a recorded phone call, eight-year-old syringes and gauze, spousal accusations and firm denials.
Somehow, I bet this isn’t what Bud Selig envisioned three years ago when he commissioned the report, and I bet it’s not what he envisioned when he released this document to the wolves two months ago. A Mitchell Report without names would have served its purpose better than this document, and as the charade continues tomorrow, I have to wonder whether or not this whole thing — this report, this committee hearing, this attention to something that no one can change — is really in the best interest of baseball.