With Clemens under fire, so is Pettitte

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As The PEDs Turn continued yesterday when Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and his House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked the Justice Department to investigate inconsistencies in Roger Clemens’ testimony. While, by now, I’ve long since given up any expectation of finding out the Truth (with a capital T) in the Clemens/McNamee shouting contest, this latest development will impact the Yankees because Andy Pettitte figures to be a key component of any investigation and potential perjury trial.

While the FBI has since opend a probe into Clemens, Andy Pettitte has reluctantly noted that he will be a part of the investigation. These developments could very well impact Pettittes’ mental preparation this season. He’s a fighter on the mound, and there’s no reason to think he carries his personal baggage onto the field with him. But this is heavy.

So far, the media has given Pettitte a pass, but in a rather scathing piece in the Village Voice, Allan Barra wonders if that should change. Barra also thinks Pettitte should be suspended.

He writes:

Why hasn’t Andy Pettitte heard from MLB, and why hasn’t there been talk of a suspension? In his deposition to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Pettitte admitted that his father injected him with HGH in 2004…In admitting this, Pettitte was in effect also admitting that he had lied to the Mitchell Commission—and thus to Major League Baseball—about the extent of his drug use…

That Pettitte would not appear as a witness at the February 13 public hearing wasn’t known until just before midnight on Monday, February 11…It was speculated that the reason that Pettitte would not be appearing in person was that he didn’t want to hurt and embarrass his close friend and former teammate—an explanation highly favorable to Mitchell and Waxman, as well as to Pettitte’s reputation.

Another version of Pettitte’s reasons to skip the hearing appeared in numerous stories that also appeared on February 12: As ESPN’s T.J. Quinn reported, sources had told him that “Pettitte was not a good witness when he appeared before Congressional lawyers during sworn deposition…Pettitte often contradicted himself, so the committee agreed to his request not to appear before the committee.” If that’s true, one must wonder if Waxman wasn’t relieved that Pettitte wouldn’t be grilled in person about the vague and often contradictory statements in his deposition. If so, Roger Clemens, whether innocent or guilty, was denied the fundamental right of facing his accuser.

Barra is the first New York sportswriter to really go after Pettitte; he’s also a noted crank. He supported Rush Limbaugh’s racist criticisms of Donovan McNabb, for one.

But Barra broke the Andy Pettitte barrier, and I have to wonder if others will soon follow suit. Whether he wants to be or not, Pettitte will occupy the FBI spotlight during this investigation. It may be a waste of time; it may be a waste of government resources; but it’s happening. Hopefully, it won’t impact the games.

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  • http://btcoletti.com BTC

    can anyone tell me the best way to let congress etc know how disappointing it is that they are spending so much time and money on such a trival-at-most issue please. thank you.

  • IhateMikeLowell

    Can someone tell me how you can suspend a player for admitting to doing something 4 years ago?

  • Count Zero

    I think this is precisely why most attorneys, commenting right after the release of the dreaded Hearsay…errr…Mitchell Report, thought it unlikely that any MLB player would attempt to sue or otherwise take on Mitchell and the Commish. Dragging the whole sordid affair through the papers for months on end benefits no one — least of all the players implicated.

    Note that contrary to his intent, Rocket looks worse now than he did when all of this started. He came off sounding nice with his assertive denials for the first couple of weeks, but he’s now dug himself a very large hole in the court of public opinion. Meanwhile Tejada seems to have done the smart thing, unlikely as that seems.

    Glass houses…flying stones…very dangerous for everyone in the area.

    As to Pettitte, I’m not so sure I don’t agree with Barra. But since I want Andy in the rotation on Opening Day, I’ll just leave that one alone. ;-)

  • pete

    he didn’t lie he merely didn’t tell the whole truth to protect a family member. Plus he swiftly (relatively speaking) admitted that, too. Of his own accord, no less. Plus, HGH wasn’t even illegal in baseball until 2005, so there is no way he should be suspended or fined in the slightest.

  • Drew

    There is a lot that Barra said that doesn’t line up (using/possessing HGH was not a crime; Pettitte didn’t lie to Mitchell as he didn’t speak to him; Andy injected himself, his dad didn’t do it). (Hat tip the commenters at Bronx Banter.)

    That said, I was intrigued to get some insight into the politics of the committee and the possibility of Clemens being truthful. I couldn’t understand why the committee would break along partisan lines — this seems the perfect example of a non-partisan (also stupid) Congressional pursuit. The friendship with Mitchell, a former Majority Leader for the Dems, illuminated that.

    I’d also wondered about Pettitte being excused from testifying and the “not a good witness” quote. How could he be a “not good” witness, yet was putting the nail in Roger’s coffin? This is explained again by Waxman’s desire to vindicate Mitchell.

    It gets harder and harder not to view this whole thing ultra-cynically. Sadly, this means that they all get painted with the same brush.

  • rbizzler

    Barra’s assertion that Pettitte face legal action and MLB suspension is patently absurd.

    First off, the notion that Pettitte be charged with unlawful drug possession is ridiculous and creates an untenable precedent. Where should this type of prosecution end? With anyone who admits smoking pot? Doing coke? Borrowing a percocet from a friend who had their wisdom teeth out? Drinking underage? Please, as if the legal system isn’t backed up enough and about to collapse in on itself as it is.

    As for and MLB suspension for Andy, Barra is incorrect in that Andy lied to the Mitchell ‘Commission’. Being that the only active major leaguer to speak with the esteemed senator was the pomaded Giambino, it seems unlikely that Pettitte lied to them, let alone even talked to them. Suspending him for admitting to possession of a substance that he didn’t have a scrip for is a joke too.

    This type of action would once again create a untenable precedent. Eric Byrnes just got pulled over in AZ for a registration issue on his conversion van (yup, dude drives a conversion van), should he be suspended? What about TLR and his DUI last spring? And the Speezer, who just crashed his Beemer (probably while drunk) and decked his neighbor. Suspend him? But wait, Speizio admitted to having a drug problem, so that means he must have possessed an illegal substance at some point. According to the ‘Barra Laws’ he’s toast.

    • Rob_in_CT

      TLR definitely warranted a suspension. As do the wife beaters.

      Andy, Tejada, Brian Roberts, et al… I’m gonna say no.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      It’s ridiculous and all it does is encourage people to stay mum.

      The country is sliding into recession, kids are dying in Iraq, but this is the big thing to worry about.

      yeah okay.

  • Geno

    Off topic, but there’s a nice article on Joba on the Miami Herald’s web site:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/spo.....30988.html

  • dan

    Something that Barra relies on that is just factually incorrect:

    “In admitting this, Pettitte was in effect also admitting that he had lied to the Mitchell Commission”

    Pettitte never spoke to George Mitchell. The Mitchell report contained only what McNamee said about Pettitte, nothing that Pettitte said directly. Also:

    “Roger Clemens, whether innocent or guilty, was denied the fundamental right of facing his accuser.”

    Pettitte didn’t accuse Roger Clemens of anything, he’s just a witness. McNamee accused Clemens of steroid use. One episode of Law and Order and Barra would have realized this. His article (at least this portion of it) doesn’t have much merit with the inclusion of these statements.

  • Old Goat

    What do you expect from the Village Voice? Barra probably uses PEDs himself, that is if you consider those funny cigarettes PEDs.

  • Steve S

    I think the concern for Pettitte might be premature. I am skeptical whether there is a federal prosecutor who will be able or willing to take this to trial, let alone get it done within the next eight months. Nearly all the potential evidence that is compelling is not admissible, and depending on where this would be brought, I’m wondering how certain appellate courts would respond to the governments cooperation and facilitation of a private investigation. I think Roger Cossack made some excellent points in the Michael Kay show yesterday. He is the first person Ive heard properly summarize the inherent legal deficiencies to the Clemens case and the Mitchell report.

    And I really dont think that he is the first to take a shot at Pettitte. I heard a couple of the NY radio guys say some things. He deserves some criticism he has lied multiple times (just not the scenario that Barra paints). I just think people like making Clemens the convenient target. So the shots at Pettitte are small compared to what is happening to Clemens.

    Perhaps Pettitte gets deposed during the season but other than that Im skeptical hell be involved. It took four years to take Barry Bonds to trial and they have a positive test and documentary evidence linking him.