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The sixth man (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday November 14, 2006 1:12PM; Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2006 8:30AM
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Andy Pettitte and Clemens came to McNamee's defense after the L.A. Times story broke in October.
Andy Pettitte and Clemens came to McNamee's defense after the L.A. Times story broke in October.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

"He's probably the best police officer I've ever been around," said New York City Police Lt. Tim Lyon, McNamee's former partner. Lyon has risen to head a detective squad in a Brooklyn precinct but said McNamee "lapped me" in terms of arrests and would have been a captain or better, maybe an inspector, had he stayed on the force. (McNamee says he left the force to take a job with the Yankees, and later left them to join Toronto.)

The thing that Lyon couldn't get over was how hard McNamee worked and how loyal he was. "He was probably loyal to a fault," Lyon said.

McNamee has a history of taking hits for folks, causing some of his friends to wonder if maybe he's taking an undeserved hit now.

Lyon recalled one time when McNamee's female prisoner escaped after he asked a colleague to watch the handcuffed collar while he completed paperwork. Since it was a female prisoner, she was handcuffed outside the holding cell. When McNamee returned minutes later, the handcuffs were still there but the prisoner was gone. McNamee knew the incident would hurt his colleague's bid for a promotion. So McNamee took the hit, knowing he'd suffer only a 30-day suspension. "Brian said, 'It's my prisoner, I'll take responsibility,'" Lyon recalled. And so he did.

Down recalls that McNamee also "took the hit'' for an incident at a St. Petersburg, Fla., pool during a 2001 Yankees' road trip. McNamee was questioned by police regarding an alleged sexual assault at the hotel where the Yankees were staying, but no charges were filed. McNamee says now that he wasn't exactly forthcoming when questioned by officers. "He won't rat on anybody,'' Down said. "He's as loyal as they come." Still, the Yankees didn't renew McNamee's contract shortly thereafter, and McNamee feels he got hit again recently when the pool incident was mentioned by another paper as a follow-up to the L.A. Times report. He feels that the mention of the old pool incident makes him look guilty, when, for all intents and purposes, he was exonerated.

'Significant inaccuracies'

Beyond the fact that the Oct. 1 Times story is now alleged to contain "significant inaccuracies," Grimsley himself is now saying through his people that he didn't volunteer or confirm the names of Clemens, Pettitte or McNamee. "His contention is all three of those names were generated by the agents and that he didn't corroborate any of them," Grimsley's longtime and well-respected agent Joe Bick told SI.com. And Grimsley's lawyer Ed Novak said he was standing behind his original comment to the Arizona Republic that Grimsley told him "not in a million years" would Clemens or Pettitte use performance-enhancing drugs.

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Another friend of Grimsley's said that when asked by the federal agents whether Clemens used, Grimsley told him he had no idea. When asked whether Pettitte used, Grimsley said "not in a million years." And when Grimsley was asked whether McNamee had been the source for performance-enhancing drugs, which includes amphetamines, Grimsley said no, he wasn't.

So the "proof'" against McNamee apparently amounts to an anonymous leak to one newspaper regarding what the very likely desperate Grimsley may or may not have told an IRS agent about McNamee and the others. If they took it to court, they'd have a witness, Grimsley, who was caught red-handed with a package of human growth hormone in a raid in June at his Scottsdale home and was known to be a big-time partier while with the Yankees, and who denies and contradicts what they claim he said about McNamee, Clemens or Pettitte. Whew, that's some star witness! But in this case, it appears to be enough to convict, at least in the court of public opinion. That's why McNamee is speaking up now.

"I've never done anything to jeopardize the integrity of my profession," McNamee said.

Clemens and Pettitte

If Clemens or Pettitte are guilty, McNamee would be presumed by many to be guilty. But the evidence against the pitchers is spotty, at best. Beyond the repudiated report, the main "proof" seems to be that Clemens is too good at his age to be doing this without help, and Pettitte is Clemens' shadow. McNamee denied any knowledge of steroid usage on the part of Clemens and Pettitte. "As ballplayers they are different when it comes to their work ethic, how hard they train, how diligent they are," McNamee said. "Andy, who doesn't spend a dime, built a 10,000 square foot facility next to his home."

McNamee said the religious Pettitte once got upset with him when he brought two beers onto his property to wash down a sandwich. McNamee also pointed out that over the years Clemens' training methods and equipment have improved dramatically, and that Clemens even has a personal massage therapist now. As far as Clemens' mid-career improvement and continuing late-career success, McNamee pointed out that a lot of fine pitchers are thriving into their 40s, from Tom Glavine to Jamie Moyer to Kenny Rogers.

"I have the utmost respect for Roger as a person, as a family man and as a pitcher," McNamee continued. "Roger is the consummate 25-year-old with an 18-year-old body with a lot of childlike mannerisms. I've been to his lake house with the jet skis, it's nonstop moving. He's got more energy than anybody I've ever seen. It's a genetic thing. It's analogous to the beautiful woman who stays beautiful throughout her life without cosmetic surgery."

McNamee was actually the third trainer suggested to have been named in the affidavit, and like the others, he hoped it would just go away. "People who know me know I don't have to defend myself,'' McNamee said

But that's the problem. Few people know the real McNamee. To most folks now, he's just a name in the middle of the steroid mess.

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