T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com reporter and one-time head of the Baseball Writers Association, looks at Roger Clemens’ Hall of Fame chances in the wake of the Mitchell Report. Some members of the media are already saying they won’t vote for him despite the flimsy nature of the evidence. Apparently, some voters have said unequivocally that they won’t vote for anyone who appears in the report no matter the context while others, such as John Hickey as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, still believe that innocent until proven guilty should rule the day. Clemens has the luxury of five years’ distance from the report before he lands on the ballot. Lucky him.
Just got in from checking the mail, and on my doorstep was a small, square plastic package. Yep. My “Save the Big Three” t-shirt. Now, I ordered it the first day they were available, so you can understand that if you haven’t gotten yours yet, it’s on its way. And I have to say, it’s worth the wait.
The shirt itself seems heavy-duty enough. But that’s not the best part. Usually, when shirts like this come in, the lettering is pressed onto the shirt. So when it goes through the wash, eventually the letters wash off. Ah ha, not with these puppies. It appears as though the lettering is dyed right into the shirt. So yeah, it’ll fade in time, but putting it through the wash isn’t going to result in the text falling off or anything.
I wear somewhere between a medium and a large. I ordered a large, and it fits perfectly. So if you were hesitating because you didn’t know what kind of quality you’re getting, you can go ahead and order one. Out of the box, it gets my seal of approval.
So order yours today. I’m wearing mine to the bar tonight.
We didn’t get into this much yesterday because we had some bigger fish to fry, but with the announcement that A-Rod is returning to the Yanks through 2017 came word of his salary structure. It actually makes sense. Take a look:
2008: $27 million
2009: $32 million
2010: $32 million
2011: $31 million
2012: $29 million
2013: $28 million
2014: $25 million
2015: $21 million
2016: $20 million
2017: $20 million
I love this part of the deal: It’s not at all back-loaded. For years, teams have been doling out back-loaded contracts. Take Jason Giambi’s, for example. In his first seasons with the Yankees he made just $13 million a year. Last year, he made $21 million and stands to earn another lofty paycheck again as the second highest paid player in baseball.
The Yankees are paying A-Rod more or less what he’s worth. By the time 2017 rolls around and he’s 42, the Yanks will be paying him what seems to be a reasonable $20 million. They pay him the big bucks up front when he’s still producing and the not-quite-as-big bucks at the end of the deal.
Of course, the historic performance bonuses – $6 million each for tying Mays, Ruth, Aaron and Bonds and another $6 million for breaking the record – render this point moot in a way. A-Rod could take home $44 million in 2015 or 2016. But the Yankees know that the attention, ratings and revenue from A-Rod’s home run chance will more than make up for those $6 million bonuses.
All in all, this is some solid accounting and an economically sensible deal. Now, don’t get me started on Torii Hunter.
For all his experience, for all the years spent in public service and in the private sector, Senator George Mitchell still has no idea how the American media works. Right now, this lack of understanding is costing him and his precious report dearly.
Yesterday, during his staid press conference, George Mitchell stressed the future over the past. Pay attention to and follow my recommendations, he said more than once. So the next day, of course, all of the newspapers feature on their front covers pictures of the big guns in the report with nary a mention of his recommendations. Even ESPN, with their limitless internet resources, buried the recommendations underneath a giant picture of the stars named in the report.
And here we arrive at that same point I made yesterday: By naming names, George Mitchell produced a report that was counterproductive to its intent and message. By his own admission, somewhere from at least six to eight percent of Major League Baseball players used steroids. This report captures about 1 percent of all Major Leaguers over the time period identified in it.
So in naming names, Mitchell spoon-fed the media their top stories for a slow Friday. Splashed across newspaper covers nationwide are Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada and Eric Gagne. Never mind that the report seems to cover five of baseball’s 30 teams. Never mind that Mitchell got two sources to talk due to either plea deals with the government or the threat of federal prosecution. Never mind that Sammy Sosa’s name is curiously absent from a story about steroids. Mitchell found a few big names and named them.
Tomorrow, this story will be off the front page. We do have after all some hotly-contested primaries coming up, a climate change conference in Bali, a shaky economy and a war going on. And when the papers arrive tomorrow, we’ll once again see no mention of the recommendations that Mitchell has set forth in the report.
Blame it on George for his naivete or blame it on Bud. Selig wanted his names. He wanted the past to be utterly exposed, and what he got was a media storm and probably around 15 percent of the names of those who used steroids.
Baseball will recover. It always does, but what should have been a day for looking forward and looking at a report that could have been effective with names redacted instead became a day for condemning the past. All we’ve learned is that the media loves to tear down big stars. Somehow, George Mitchell and his crack team of investigators didn’t know that two days ago.
This horrible mess affects the minor leagues and amateurs too. Baseball America tells you why and how.
I’ll just quote at length from Stark’s latest. We can’t repeat this point enough about the whole Mitchell investigation.
So you probably don’t even care that Clemens’ lawyer was using words like “slander” to characterize all this. You probably don’t even care that the evidence is more tenuous than you’d think.
You probably don’t even care that two attorneys who were surveyed Thursday, both of whom now work in the sports world, say they’re extremely dubious that the allegations against Clemens would hold up in court. Not even in a civil case.
You might find that surprising, considering that Clemens is one of the few players in this report whose alleged use of illegal substances was actually witnessed by a living, breathing human being (trainer Brian McNamee) who then spoke with the Mitchell crew.
But one attorney — a man who doesn’t represent players, by the way — said the entire case is “all based on one guy [McNamee], and there’s no documentation.”
True, there are checks written by McNamee to the human smoking gun, Kirk Radomski. But the report tells us, right there on Page 174, that Radomski admitted that McNamee never told him that Clemens (or Andy Pettitte) used steroids or HGH. It was merely implied, Radomski said.
Those implications were good enough for George Mitchell — obviously. But the other attorney we surveyed said that in an actual court, a judge would tell a jury that the testimony of a witness like McNamee, who had made a deal with the government, was “not sufficient for conviction. There must be independent corroboration.”
So what’s the corroboration? Information supplied by another witness who made a deal with the government. Uh-oh.
I’m no defender of Roger Clemens. He’s reaped what he’s sown over the years. But I am a fan of baseball, and today was a sad, sad day for the game because of this unnecessary report.
So here’s where things really get interesting.
Roger Clemens has enlisted the aid of Houston attorney Rusty Hardin to combat the allegations put forth in the Mitchell Report, the Houston Chronicle reported this evening. Hardin got right down to work and issued a very strongly worded statement:
“Roger Clemens vehemently denies allegations in the Mitchell report that he used performance-enhancing steroids, and is outraged that his name is included in the report based on the uncorroborated allegations of a troubled man threatened with federal criminal prosecution. Roger has been repeatedly tested for these substances and he has never tested positive. There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today…
“The use of steroids in sports is a serious problem, it is wrong and it should be stopped.
“However, I am extremely upset that Roger’s name was in this report based on the allegations of a troubled and unreliable witness who only came up with names after being threatened with possible prison time.”
If that doesn’t sum up the problems with the Mitchell Report — witnesses coerced by the threat of jail time to come forward — I don’t know what does.
Meanwhile, this game is just getting started. Who knows what Roger Clemens did or did not do? I sure don’t, and I don’t think anyone, other than Roger, really does. The real test though will be the threat of a law suit. If one of the players named in the Mitchell Report files suit, this whole charade will blow up in everyone’s faces. Yikes.
Update: For all of you legal eagles out there, ESPN’s Lester Munson has up a Q-and-A on the legal issues. If you want to know why players probably won’t sue or face many suspensions, that’s the article for you.