Monday, January 07, 2008

So, the BCS National Championship Game was played tonight, and still all any one can talk about is this Roger Clemens story. To respond to the lone gunman's comment on last night's post. It is an interesting point that Clemens could have been injected by a team doctor or trainer if he weren't receiving an illicit substance. However, I would counter that by wondering aloud what sort of nitwit pays someone to do something illegal with a check?

I disagree with the notion that Clemens put himself in the position where he has to prove himself innocent. When he stayed silent, every moron with a press pass wrote, talked and shouted that Clemens had to answer these charges. Had he not gone on 60 Minutes, would that somehow have gone away, or would the CHB and Jay Mariotti and Bill Simmons have screamed more bloody murder?

And if I'm not mistaken, Brian McNamee was an employee of the Toronto Blue Jays when he met Roger Clemens and injected him with whatever he was injected in 1998. It was only later that he served as Roger's personal trainer.

Then, there is the CHB's dismal insult to his readers' intelligence masquerading as a column in this morning's Globe. The press conference this evening where Clemens played the tape of his phone conversation with McNamee should have been stage managed better. If you read Jay Mariotti's "thoughts" on the situation, you might get the impression that Clemens ducked the question McNamee posed frequently "what do you want me to do?" I thought Clemens was crystal clear in his answer "I want someone to tell the truth."

Perhaps one can assume that Clemens meant the Pope or Mike Huckabee or Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Tank Johnson, but I was convinced that Clemens was telling McNamee to come clean. Perhaps there are those people out there who would have been more explicit in language and in tone, perhaps responding to McNamee's curses with similarly strident language. I wonder, though.

The worst thing Clemens could have done was been harsh with McNamee. He would have written a even less favorable story against himself for the legion of press drones out there. After all, McNamee introduced the topic of his dying ten year old child. The media would have burnt Clemens at the stake if he'd spoken harshly to the father of a dying kid. So I had no problem with that particular answer.

I'm not sure what taping that conversation gets Clemens in the long run. It makes him look a lot like Richard Nixon. Now, I'm as big a fan of Nixon as the next guy, but he did have a few issues with paranoia. And embroiled in a he said he said scandal like this, looking like Nixon probably isn't the way to go.

I don't see a problem with Clemens comments that Andy Pettitte's case is a separate issue. Why does it necessarily follow that because Pettitte admitted that received HGH injections from McNamee on two occasions in 2002 then Roger Clemens must have also been injected by McNamee? The transitive property only applies in algebra class, and it is not admissible in court as evidence, as far as I can tell.

This section of Shaughnessy's analysis of the Clemens interview bothered me most of all:

Asked what McNamee gained by lying, the best Clemens could do was, "Evidently not going to jail."

In fact, "not going to jail" was McNamee's reason for telling the truth (McNamee cooperated with Mitchell as part of a deal to avoid federal prosecution). McNamee faces going to jail only if he lied to Mitchell. Wallace then asked Clemens why McNamee would go to jail and the Rocket responded, "Well, I think he's been buying and movin' steroids."

Wallace then failed to ask a follow-up.


Not going to Federal prison, or any kind of correctional facility is pretty high on just about every sane person's list of priorities. Or maybe the CHB hasn't seen OZ. Perhaps the Massachusetts Department of Corrections could let him take a look at their facilities in Concord or Cedar Junction to educate him on what life in prison even in these enlightened times is like. Let's just say there's a good reason the Red Cross won't take blood donations from people who've spent more than 72 consecutive hours behind bars in the past year.

Maybe the CHB has seen the Untouchables or perhaps On the Waterfront a time or two too many. Not every person who oversees investigations into various crimes, misdemeanors and other such violations of the public trust is an altruist. Say McNamee stretched or bent the truth a time or two but provided the information to put some people behind bars and earned a few headlines for the occasional ambitious civil servant, might that not influence that ambitious civil servant to help McNamee out in return? That's how the justice system works in this country.

And closing his little piece of drivel with this cute little epigram: "And we've heard too many lies from those who came before and wound up guilty as charged" did very little to calm me down. What bearing does any other person accused in the previous round of Congressional hearings or in the Mitchell Report have on this case? It doesn't matter one bit for Roger's case whether Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro lied or told the truth. For that matter, it doesn't have any impact on this case if Mark McGwire dressed in a damn tutu and stood outside an elementary school punching every seventh child in the face or jumped on Oprah's couch like Tom Cruise. Good work with the responsible, honest journalism. I bet Grantland Rice is real proud.

1 comment:

TheKobraKommander said...

The checks aren't such a strange thing. People pay for illegal activities by check all the time, believe it or not. It's not like he wrote in the memo line "For steroid injections." The checks are only important because they corroborate McNamee's testimony that Clemens paid him for something a certain number of times in certain time periods. Again, in Toronto, if McNamee was doing legitimate work for the team, why did Clemens need to pay him?

Pettitte's case is germane, because it goes to McNamee's credibility as a witness, which Clemens himself has tried to call into question. Pettitte admits that what McNamee now says in the Mitchell report about him is true, and not made up. It is therefore probable (not certain, of course, only probable) that McNamee's testimony under the plea deal may be accurate in other respects as well. It doesn't make Clemens guilty, but it does mean that at least part of McNamee's story is true.

It's not like McNamee's accusations are the only evidence. There are the financial records as well as additional testimony to which the Mitchell commission did not have access. Gary Sheffield and Jose Canseco also claimed to have knowledge that Clemens was taking performance enhancing drugs. If Clemens is ever indicted, we'll hear more about it than we care to, I'm sure.

Clemens can go on 60 minutes whenever he wants and say whatever he wants and doesn't have to prove anything to anybody. I have no problem with that. The key here is that Clemens has taken it a step further and filed a defamation suit -- that's what put him in the position where he must prove his innocence.

In a defamation suit, the truth is a defense. If what McNamee claims is true, it's not defamation. The presumption in court is that sworn testimony is true unless it can be proved otherwise. Therefore, Clemens and his lawyers must be able to prove that McNamee is lying (i.e. that Clemens did not take steroids and is innocent). It sucks, but Clemens did it to himself, I refuse to see any injustice here.

By the way, when did you start believing that all athletes should do what sports writers tell them? Would your hero TO file a defamation suit because the media demanded a response? Why should Clemens or anyone else care what the media thinks? In a few weeks time they'll all be occupied with something else that they feel is of earth-shaking import. Vultures are always looking for a fresh carcass. Clemens could have let it fade away (unless he was charged, and then the truth would out during a trial anyway).

For some reason, Clemens has made a conscious decision to play along with the media and try his case in the court of public opinion. He's giving them what they want: 60 Minutes interviews, a legal battle, daily servings of "evidence" about the case so lazy columnists have something to write about. This may be cynical, but I see something other than righteous indignation at work here.