Sunday, January 13, 2008

Scud Rocket

Well, before we begin, I just would like to say to all the people who defended Barry Bonds....I guess this whole steroids hoopla wasn't about race.

So Roger Clemens is in trouble. His picture is on every newspaper across America with the words "steroid" over it. His name is smeared and he's in danger of going before Congress. He claims he didn't do it. He's gone on 60 Minutes to say that and held a press conference to reiterate it. His ex-trainer says he did. So, whom do we believe?

To begin, let me just admit that, yes, it is true, there is no smoking gun proof against Roger Clemens. There are no receipts, no tapes, no pictures or blood tests. That said, the circumstantial proof against him is so demonstrably damning, so overwhelming, it makes this blog unhappily obliged to feel that yes, Clemens did take HGH and steroids.

I've written before about Roger's stats before and after his "injection" dates (the dates his former trainer McNamee injected him with steroids). His stats before the dates McNamee were good. The stats after the injections were off the chart. To read the stats of Clemens before and after the injections, go here:

Then there's this; what McNamee had to say about Roger's taking of steroids. Something, by the way, I feel has the stench of truth: "And Roger was in no way an abuser of steroids. He never took them through our tough winter workouts. And he never took them in spring training, when the days are longest. He took them in late July, August, and never for more than four to six weeks max ... it wasn't that frequent."

I believe this not only because the stats belie and back up McNamee, but because its the nature of the game. When pitchers get older, its not that they immediately lose life off their fastball, its that they can't sustain it for the entire season. They work out in the winter, start strong, but they begin to tire, break down and get injured. They can't dominate over the baseball season like they did when they were 25. So, for Roger, a pitcher in his late 30s, come August, he would need a pick-me-up, something to give him strength for the late season. So I believe McNamee's account when he says Roger didn't take it year-round. It makes sense.

Then there's the matter of the bizarre press conference, where Roger angrily defended himself last week, by first playing a secret recorded tape of him talking to McNamee, then afterwards, losing his mind and yelling about he doesn't care about the Hall of Fame. (Word has it that after the rant where Roger flipped out on a reporter who asked him a question about the Hall of Fame, Roger's lawyer passed a note that said 'Lighten Up")

The press conference, to this blog, seemed to have the opposite effect than intended. Clemens seemed not to be righteously angry, but desperate. He came off as pathetically batty. And not just a little over-the-top pathetic. Think a beefed up Fredo Corleone from the Godfather II.

First, there's the tape itself. Instead of proving Roger's innocence as a man upset by false accusations, it showed Roger as evasive, shifty in his questions. Instead of asking the obvious questions of a man falsely accused, like, gee, I don't know..."Hey Brian, why did you lie?" (which Roger never does) he asked scripted, calculating questions.

For instance, Roger asks McNamee "Why did you tell guys that I used steroids?"—a slippery question. He never once asks McNamee "Why did you lie?" because he knows what McNamee would say next. "I didn't, Roger, and you know it." He also never asks McNamee to change what he told Mitchell and clear his name, which you would suppose a man falsely accused would do.

Then there's the question of McNamee. As Peter Gammons said on ESPN, "We don't know why Brian McNamee would lie and open himself up to all this." Exactly. What does McNamee gain from testifying falsely to Mitchell. Every skeleton in his closet gets pulled out. His family wouldn't know peace for years as his name is raked over by Clemens' lawyers. Infamy, scandal, and then ultimately, if his lie is revealed, jail. So why do it?

Especially for a guy McNamee loved. In that tape that Roger taped and then played for the media, McNamee says "I'll go to jail, I'll do whatever you want." But he never once says that Roger was clean. He never once apologizes to Roger for lying.

This is McNamee on the tape. "I don't have any money. I have nothing. I'm not doing a book deal. I got offered seven figures to go on TV. I didn't do it. I didn't take it. I didn't do anything. All I did was what I thought was right - and I never thought it was right, but I thought that I had no other choice, put it that way."

So McNamee didn't reveal Roger's name for money (which he needs—his 10-year-old son is very sick). He obviously didn't do it to see his name in the scandal sheets. In fact, Brian McNamee sounds pained that he had to admit the truth about Roger.

Lastly, there are Roger's own words. Clemens, in his initial denials of the allegations in the Mitchell report, said nothing about getting shots. Then he belatedly remembered that he had received shots of the painkiller lidocaine and vitamin B12. It's also damning that he invoked B12, for two reasons: That was what Rafael Palmeiro said Miguel Tejada gave him in 2005, suggesting that a tainted B12 sample led to his positive test for steroids. Also, more importantly, players traveling between the United States and Latin America are said to label their containers of steroids and human growth hormone as B12 to get them through customs.

Also, as the New York Times on January 9th wrote: "No interviewer, not Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” or any of the reporters who attended the Clemens news conference Monday, asked him if he had prescriptions for lidocaine and injectable B12. If he didn’t, he used them illegally. If he did have a prescription, why didn’t he have the doctor who prescribed them give him the shots? If not the doctor, why not the team trainer? Why his personal trainer?"

There there's the question of what he said on 60 Minutes. First he said he didn't shoot steroids. "Where would I get the needles?" Then he says McNamee shot him with B12 and lidocaine. With needles. So he could easily get needles if he needed. And again, why didn't his his doctor inject him; why his trainer?

And now, as this is being written, it's come out today that Roger Clemens' attorney— who has maintained that Roger would answer any question Congress wants to ask about steroid allegations—now is hedging over the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's request to depose Clemens under oath.

This is a bad move. Roger. Go to Washington and tell the truth. Pettite did, and America has promptly forgiven and forgotten. If I am correct and you did what McNamee says, go and tell congress. If you come clean and confess with honor, America will eventually forgive. If you didn't do what we all suspect, go to congress and prove your innocence. In any case, you must go to Washington. Because if you avoid congress and get subpoenaed and plead the fifth, well, that America won't forgive. (Just see Mark McGwire.) And if you lie....we'll, let me read some names to you:

Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Martha Stewart.

They are all in jail or facing serious federal charges, not for drugs. But for lying under oath.

In the end, there is only one way this ends. The same way it ended with Pete Rose, Jose Canseco, Marion Jones and all the other guys who claimed they did nothing wrong: the truth gets admitted. It's inevitable. And it pleases this blog in no way to say, we have a feeling what that truth is.

1 comment:

Pete S said...

Great analysis - he is lying and I seriously doubt he has the nerve to lie under oath. Federal officials send you to jail if you lie under oath. It undermines the Federal Government in public. Not smart.

The Clemens situation brings up two problems I see in society every day. I hope to God these issues are not woven into human nature and are correctable somehow. The first is a win at any cost attitude and the second is the refusal to be accountable.

I watch people stab each other in the back every day with the goal of advancing themselves at work or for the attention of the opposite sex or some other "important" reason. It is easier for people to cheat or gain a secret advantage than to find out what they're really made of and earn something, thus discovering their true limitations. This is what Roger Clemens did and what all the steroid users did in baseball. And the most common excuse? "I have a mortgage to pay." The Yuppie Nuremberg defense (quote from "Thank You For Smoking"). It's all about greed, and it's pathetic.

Raising your hand and saying "I did it" and apologizing is the last resort for most, it seems. Clemens will never admit what he did until he is backed into a corner with NO WAY OUT. It looks as though he will avoid that scenario. After all, he's got a great lawyer passing him notes on the fly. At least Pettitte (and I am getting a 46 jersey this year) did the right thing, because he could be playing the same "who, me?" game that Clemens has chosen. Roger is happier not being caught and avoiding accountability than coming clean. Every day, I see people in the workplace spend more time covering up a mistake than doing their jobs. It's almost comical.

I'm comfortable in my own skin because I try to compete - at work, on computer games (sadly), in poker tournaments - without cheating. And I try, as difficult as it is sometimes, to admit my mistakes. I believe sports is a microcosm of society at large, and I see the same problems plaguing both.

Thanks, Roger. You reminded me of what I DON'T want to be.