Archive for Roger Clemens
As I write this post, there are just 36 hours left in the presidency of George W. Bush, and baseball fans might be watching closely. Pardon rumors surrounding Roger Clemens just won’t die.
On Friday, the Daily News’ I-Team blog, run by the paper’s sports investigative team, noted that Dana Perino, White House press secretary, basically shot down the idea of a Clemens pardon. Meanwhile, yesterday, Buster Olney hypothesized on the prospects of a pardon. In the end, the ESPN scribe didn’t believe a pardon would be forthcoming.
For the most part, baseball on the whole is sick of the Clemens-Bonds-steroids saga. It’s become far more about catching a big fish in a lie or half-truth about something they did five or ten years ago. While George Mitchell tried to gloss over the shortcomings of his report by half-heartedly suggesting ways the game should look forward, once he named names the report became a useless piece of sensationalistic reporting instead of a series of serious recommendations.
The Bush pardon question, though, and Clemens’ potential culpability raise some interesting questions. If Bush were to pardon Clemens, in a way, this part of the saga would be over. No longer would we have to listen to he said, he said fights between Clemens and McNamee as the game of baseball tries to move beyond the cloud of steroid.
Olney summed up the argument for a pardon in a nutshell:
He probably has already suffered the greatest punishment he will receive: the diminishment of his reputation and legacy. In the past month, a golf tournament removed Clemens’ name from its title, as did a hospital funded by the pitcher’s money. It’s possible he will never be inducted into the Hall of Fame, despite putting up the most daunting numbers of any pitcher in his lifetime.
Why bother running Clemens through the public spectacle of a trial, basically?
Well, the flip side of that argument is a good one. It’s possible that Clemens lied to Congress, and as Olney writes, if Bush pardons his friend Roger Clemens, he may have to do the same for Barry Bonds. At that point, millions of government dollars and thousands of man-hours would basically have gone to waste. Of course, many people already think the money has gone to waste, and a witch hunt for Bonds or Clemens won’t make anyone feel better.
In the end, a Clemens pardon is probably, as Olney said, a headline-grabbing event that Bush seems to be trying to avoid in his final day in office. He’s taken heat for the Isaac Toussie pardon and seems much less trigger-happy on the pardon issue than Bill Clinton did during the waning days of his presidency.
So the steroid circus will continue. While I’d hardly advocate for pardoning Clemens or Bonds, part of me thinks the health of baseball and the continued success of the game would benefit from the opportunity to put the Steroid Era behind us once and for all.
According to this ESPN.com article, Roger Clemens is not unhappy with the Yanks for the perceived final game snub. He’s not looking to play any longer. He’s not too keen to talk about that whole PED issue, and he’s not going to be joining the Astros to fulfill his personal services contract any time soon. I wonder if, in four years, we’ll be saying that he’s not going to the Hall of Fame either.
One of the notable stories from yesterday was the absence of Joe Torre and Don Mattingly from the pre-game ceremonies on Sunday. Since they’re both with the Dodgers, it’s understandable why they did not appear in person. Donnie got mentioned along with the first basemen, though not announced by Kay or Sterling, and Torre’s name wasn’t uttered. Yet there was another Yankee from the dynasty years who went unnoticed last night: Roger Clemens. Why would the Yankees snub a player who is only one year removed from his last stint in Pinstripes?
They were afraid the fans would boo him.
“They didn’t want boos to be the last memory of Roger at the Stadium,” a source familiar with preparations for the last game told the Daily News.
While I’m not one for blindly trusting an anonymous Daily News source, this seems likely. Most people I know aren’t too fond of Clemens right now, be it because of his breakdown late last year, or because of his grandstanding amid steroid accusations and perjury charges. So there had to be legitimate concern over the reception he’d receive from fans.
When asked, Brian Cashman wiped his hands of the situation:
“Roger was a great Yankee and did a tremendous job here and we’re proud of the work he did here,” general manager Brian Cashman said Monday. “I can’t speak to why he wasn’t involved in the video tribute. I wasn’t part of any meetings.
“There’s a lot of controversy surrounding him right now, but that doesn’t change the kind of person he was when he was here. He’s special in my book, whether they showed a video clip of him or not.”
Team spokesman Howard Rubenstein also attempted to defuse the situation, saying that the snub of Torre and Clemens was not intentional:
“A lot of great Yankees were not mentioned,” Yankee spokesman Howard Rubenstein said of Clemens and Torre. “There was no slight intended and perhaps both of them should have been mentioned during the celebration.”
Sorry, but I’m not buying that one bit. To lump Clemens and Torre in with Yankees not mentioned just isn’t fair. Say what you will about Clemens, and I know there will be differing opinions, but you can’t just say that some people weren’t mentioned as an explanation for Joe Torre. And yes, perhaps both should have gotten a mention for their contributions to multiple World Championships.
Honestly, do you think that the fans would have booed had Clemens been present, or even recognized? I’m not sure that would have been the case. Fans might hold contempt towards the man, but Sunday night was not one rife for booing. I assume fans would have clapped out of respect for the man and his achievements. Booing would have just been out of place.
Congressman and Chair of the House Oversight Committee Henry Waxman regrets holding Wednesday’s hearing. “I think Clemens and McNamee both came out quite sullied, and I didn’t think it was a hearing that needed to be held in order to get the facts out about the Mitchell report,” Waxman said.
Had Waxman been serious about holding a hearing on the real issue — the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in baseball — he would have. But Clemens and McNamee made for better headlines and more attention. This is fake regret from another phony politician. And the specter of an incomplete Mitchell Report looms large as well.
Remember when Roger Clemens came back in 2007 and Suzyn Waldman flipped her lid? It was “of all the dramatic things she has ever said,” the Roger Clemens return seemed to take the cake. Well, she sure does look foolish now, huh? In fact, I was at that game and the 50,000 of us that stood and gave Clemens a standing ovation probably look equally foolish. Our reaction wasn’t immortalized in audio. Meanwhile, Bob Raissman of the Daily News caught up with Waldman in the aftermath of this week’s hearings. Waldman gives the typical canned answers, but lest we forget, it was indeed dramatic.
We all want this to be over after today. We all know that Bud Selig screwed this one up. We all know that this sideshow circus down in DC is no longer about rooting out performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
But for the next day, we’re stuck with it. We’re stuck with two grown men engaged in a public shouting match with legal ramifications and the reputations of distinguished baseball players and former Senators on the line. We’re stuck with grandstanding politicians and clueless baseball officials. And as the day gets started, we’re stuck with conflicting reports about Andy Pettitte‘s testimony.
What we do know is that Andy Pettitte — along with Chuck Knoblauch and Kurt Radomski — will not be at today’s hearing. What the media hasn’t yet pegged down is why and what Pettitte said in his deposition sessions. An ESPN report from late Tuesday noted that members of Congress excused the Yanks’ lefty because he may not be a good witness:
Sources told [ESPN.com's TJ] Quinn that Pettitte was not a good witness when he appeared before congressional lawyers during a sworn deposition on Monday. Pettitte often contradicted himself, the sources said, so the committee agreed to his request not to appear Wednesday.
But as the rest of that article relates and as pieces on CBS Sportsline and The New York Times detail, Pettitte’s testimony may be the nail in Roger Clemens’ coffin. While The Times report notes the existence of a signed affidavit given by Pettitte to the House Oversight Committee in lieu of testifying, CBS’ story has the details from the affidavit:
Roger Clemens told Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte nearly 10 years ago that he used human growth hormone, Pettitte said in a sworn affidavit to Congress, the Associated Press learned Tuesday.
Pettitte disclosed the conversation to the congressional committee holding Wednesday’s hearings on drug use in baseball, a person familiar with the affidavit said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the document had not been made public.
According to the person familiar with the affidavit, who said it was signed Friday night, Pettitte also said Clemens backtracked when the subject of HGH came up again in conversation in 2005, before the same House committee held the first hearing on steroids in baseball.
Pettitte said in the affidavit that he asked Clemens in 2005 what he would do if asked by the media about HGH, given his admission years earlier. According to the account told to the AP, the affidavit said Clemens responded by saying Pettitte misunderstood the previous exchange in 1999 or 2000 and that, in fact, Clemens had been talking about HGH use by his wife in the original conversation.
Furthermore, as ESPN reports, McNamee once told Pettitte that the “stuff [McNamee] gave Roger” was illegal.
Now, right now, all the information we know for sure is that this affidavit exists. The AP story on Sportsline relies on anonymous sources who could be wrong. In less than 12 hours, we’ll know sure, but things do not look good for Roger Clemens.
Someone tell me again though what this has to do about changing the culture of PED use in Major League Baseball? I’m dying to hear the answer to that question.
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.
Brian McNamee claims that Roger Clemens’ wife Debbie used HGH before her 2003 Sports Illustrated with her husband. With this strange turn comes more headlines, and I wonder if Congress and Commissioner Selig regret ever opening this can of worms. Maybe Mark McGwire was right when he didn’t want to talk about the past.
Let me start this one off with my typical Roger Clemens-Steroids disclaimer. I don’t know what Roger Clemens did or when. I don’t know if he’s telling the truth; I don’t know if Brian McNamee is telling the truth. But I do believe in the legal right that places the burden of proof on the prosecution. In other words, Clemens is innocent until proven guilty.
And this latest round of news — seven- or eight-year-old gauze or used syringes — hardly strikes me as a smoking gun.
The story according to Duff Wilson and Michael S. Schmidt of The Times:
Brian McNamee has given federal investigators bloody gauze pads, vials and syringes he said he used to inject Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001, a lawyer with knowledge of the case said Wednesday.
McNamee, Clemens’s former personal trainer, hopes that DNA and chemical tests on the materials will support his contention that he injected Clemens with those drugs, the lawyer said. The disclosure came a day after Clemens gave a sworn deposition to Congressional investigators Tuesday.
Clemens’s lawyer, Lanny A. Breuer, responded that McNamee “apparently has manufactured evidence” and was “a troubled man who is obsessed with doing everything possible to destroy Roger Clemens.”
It’s pretty hard to take this one too seriously, and I’ll turn to Breuer for a concise summary. Breuer said this “defies all credibility. It is just not credible — who in their right mind does such a thing?”
Supposedly, the story goes, McNamee had these syringes at home but had not yet opted to share them with federal investigators out of what one source termed “lingering loyalty” toward Clemens. When Clemens basically threw him under the bus at that bizarre press conference a few weeks ago, McNamee decided to wage his own war against the Rocket.
It doesn’t take a legal expert to know that this evidence would hardly be too convincing. As Schmidt details in a sidebar piece, this revelation brings up more questions than it answers. Why did McNamee withhold evidence for so long? Why and how was he storing the syringes?
Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to date leftover injections in syringes or crusted blood. As one law professor said to Schmidt, Clemens’ defense team will have a field day with this. “Clemens’s defense lawyers will attack McNamee on cross-examination, claiming that the evidence was manufactured by McNamee in response to the revelation that Clemens had taped him,” Mathew Rosengart said.
This story — already bizarre — just gets stranger by the day. I wonder if Bud Selig is still pleased that his half-hearted efforts at rooting out steroids in baseball has led to this debacle.
“It was great to be able to tell them what I’ve been saying all along, that I’ve never used steroids or growth hormone. And I look forward to being here I guess in this room next week. So, thank you very much. Y’all have a good day,” Roger Clemens said after five hours of questions (and probably as many autograph requests). I’m sure Brian McNamee will say the opposite, and Congress will be none the wiser. Taxpayer time and money well spent.