By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Roger Clemens’ crash landing

I was working and didn’t see any of Roger Clemens’ testimony. But this, from the New York Times, is enough for me:

Mr. Clemens testified that in those conversations with Mr. Pettitte, he was talking about his wife’s use of H.G.H. one time and on another occasion was referring to something he saw on a television show. Mr. Clemens sought to rebut Mr. Pettitte’s sworn and damaging statements to the committee that Mr. Clemens told him point blank that he had used H.G.H.

But Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, clearly did not believe Mr. Clemens, and pointed out that Mr. Pettitte’s wife, Laura, had also given an affidavit in which she confirmed that her husband told her about his conversation with Mr. Clemens shortly after it took place.

As ridiculous as Clemens’ insistence that he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs may be, you certainly couldn’t throw the book at him on Brian McNamee’s say-so. A lot of observers have fallen for the ridiculous notion that McNamee had no incentive to lie. In fact, he had every incentive to say what prosecutors wanted him to say. Pettitte, on the other hand, is a longtime friend of Clemens who is facing no legal consequences for any of this.

It’s over. Never mind whether Clemens will go to the Hall of Fame. He could soon be facing much more serious problems. To quote U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., “Mr. Clemens, once again I remind you, you are under oath.”

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  1. - Mark C.

    Don’t sell Clemens out too soon. And I highly doubt that Mcnamee has no reason to lie. I feel he probably has alot of reasons to lie and twist the story. He may have had an affair with Mrs. Clemens for all we know. Check out my Baseball blog.

  2. Jeff Wartman

    Again, the use of HGH is irrelevant.We’re talking about Congress investigating whether a private citizen took a prescription drug without a prescription.

  3. jvwalt

    Sorry, Dan, but I buy the “ridiculous notion” about McNamee’s testimony. I wouldn’t say that he had no incentive to lie; I would say that he had every disincentive to do so. He was offered the chance to get off the hook if he told the full truth; if he lied, he faced prosecution for perjury. And I don’t believe that the Feds somehow had it in for Roger, or wanted to “get” a big name, and (directly or implicitly) encouraged McNamee to lie. But whatever you think of McNamee’s credibility, the fact is that all the other testimony backs him up. Clemens is out on a limb by himself. Well, him and that now-discredited golf receipt, I guess.

  4. MeTheSheeple

    Personally, I’m glad my government is focusing its attention on a sport this week, rather than the organized and illegal spying upon American citizens, the tortuous procedures done on other people in my nation’s name, the crumbling economy that threatens to sink many boats, the washed-out housing market that’s clobbered many people’s lifetime investments …I’m glad Congress is focused on baseball. It’s America’s pasttime, after all, and by Congress focusing on a game it lets me think everything’s all right in the nation. It helps me sleep better at night.

  5. mike_b1

    methesheeple, what makes you think Congress isn’t working on all those issues? It’s really pretty foolish to think they aren’t.You’re complaining about a single day’s work of a single House committee. Talk about a lack of perspective.

  6. Anonymous

    Meanwhile, a few weeks back, CHB wrote no way will Roger testify to Congress, because he’s lying. Well, Roger certainly did not take the 5th yesterday.It is possible he is lying, but knows there’s not enough evidence to prosecute him for perjury. It is also possible he is telling the truth. Meanwhile, McNamee is a PROVEN liar. That’s why they have him over a barrel.

  7. Anonymous

    Oh, and Mike, I gotta disagree with you. Ten percent as much Congressional oversight of the Bush Administration and they’d all be in jail!

  8. mike_b1

    anon 12:20: Be patient. The Obama administration is less than a year away.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Not that the members of Congress aren’t (for the most part) a bunch of grandstanders. But I assume that MLB’s exemption from antitrust law gives congressmen an excuse to hold hearings any time they like.

  10. Steve

    The fact that the hearings concern illegal drug use by ballplayers idolized by a large number of children of all ages is enough of an excuse for congressional attention.

  11. Anonymous

    Yes, Dan, it gives them the excuse. But it is nothing but grandstanding. Even if Clemens is lying, they don’t have enough on him that they or a Federal prosecuter could do anything about it. It’s his (often dim and inarticulate) word against Pettitte’s (often dim and inarticulate) word, and his word against McNamee’s (weird and ever-changing) word. It could be that both Clemens and Mcnamee are lying. Maybe McNamee never provided steroids or HGH for Clemens, but is sufficiently convinced Clemens got them elsewhere that it’s safe for him to assert he used them.Or maybe Clemens is being truthful. Have you ever listened to Andy Pettitte speak? He’s not a very smart man. The kind of misunderstanding Clemens is proposing probably would not happen to you, or me, or Mike. But Pettitte? I wouldn’t trust him or anyone who’d marry him to get anything right.I still believe the overzealous prosecuter hypothesis has a lot more validity than anyone writing about this today is willing to concede. It’s classic: a witness, completely over a barrel because he’s been caught red-handed in criminal activity, and has been proven to have lied to investigators about it, has to say whatever the prosecutor wants to hear in order to avoid doing hard time. How startling would it be if a prosecutor associated with the Mitchell inquiry really had his heart set on landing the biggest fish out there?Also, the “evidence” McNamee allegedly had in his basemnet – it’s nothing. Garbage. Even if Roger’s blood is on that stuff, there’s no way to prove they were used to inject him with steroids or HGH, even if traces of those substances are present. The question of the party at Canseco’s house? Nothing. So what? Maybe he wasn’t there, or maybe he was and forgot. Proves nothing.What the hell ever happened to the presumption of innocence?

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 3:42: You make a lot of good points, but I just want to respond to your last sentence. The presumption of innocence is alive and well in the legal system. That doesn’t stop ordinary people like us from evaluating the different players and expressing our opinion about who’s lying and who’s telling the truth.

  13. Anonymous

    Dan, I don’t know about your assessment that presumption of innocence is alive and well under the present administration . . . . And how can you arrive at that conclusion, when ballplayers can be compelled to submit to random urnine tests at any time, without any probable cause? We’re not talking about airline pilots here – where is the state’s compelling interest in finding out what’s in a ballplayer’s urine? And Steve, about those kids – don’t you worry about the lesson in civil liberties we’re giving them?

  14. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 7:46: Where on earth did you get the idea that the government is making ballplayers submit to random urine tests? Not happening.

  15. Anonymous

    No, it’s not the government, Dan. It’s MLB, anti-trust excemption in hand. If my employer (or yours) attempted to subject someone to random drug tests, the courts would not allow it.But I’m not so much interested in that as I am in the fact that it’s happening, that the players are submitting to it, that the public expects them to submit to it, and no one is saying “WTF?????”And then we (yes, we, as in, we the people, the government) haul them up in front of a Congressional hearing and compel them to testify under oath – something Rove and Cheney have not yet had to worry about.So, that’s my point: WTF?

  16. G Man

    Anon, what country do YOU live in? Random drug testing takes place in the workplace on a regular basis here in the USA! It takes place in professional sports, amateur sports, AND in the private sector. Do you propose that all employers take their employees at their word that they are drug-free? Wow, another “fairytale”. You fit the profile of an Obama follower!

  17. Dan Kennedy

    As someone who believes in civil liberties, I’m uncomfortable with anyone except maybe public-safety workers being forced to pee into a cup. But until we protect folks who work at Wal-Mart and Target, I’ll be damned if I’m going to get all upset about professional athletes.

  18. Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T

    Waxman is just wasting my tax dollars and that hearing, well go figure aint that a bomber or an iceberg?

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