The fallout continues
Clemens among big losers; redemption for Duquette
Posted: Wednesday December 19, 2007 12:58PM; Updated: Wednesday December 19, 2007 3:40PM
Roger Clemens' denials are getting louder and somehow less convincing as he attempts to extricate himself from the steroid allegations made against him in the bombshell, worth-every-penny Mitchell Report that contains 8 1/2 pages of compelling, detailed evidence against the would-be Hall of Famer.
Clemens issued his second denial in five days on Tuesday, saying through his agent: "I did not take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life.''
How many people out there believe Clemens's empty words?
It's hard for me to believe that, by now, there is anyone out there who thinks Clemens is completely clean -- that is, beyond those who are either in his family or on his payroll, such as his lawyer, agents and personal massage therapist, a couple of whom have joined in the Clemens cacophony (emphasis on the phony).
Still, Clemens' denials aren't exactly shocking for two reasons: 1) He is a superstar who's used to folks fawning at his feet, and 2) As an all-time great, he has a lot more to lose than the Adam Piatts and Stephen Randolphs of the world.
That said, the evidence against Clemens is strong. His trainer, Brian McNamee provided the goods and was compelled to testify truthfully through a threat of prosecution and would otherwise have no other interest in outing his best and best-paying client. According to the document, Clemens was identified as a serial cheater, an aficionado of Anadrol-50, Sustanon 250, Winstrol, Deca-Durabolin and HGH beginning in 1998 and extending at various intervals through at least 2001. The Clemens section was not short of details.
The story in the report is convincing. But if you believe the story Clemens is sticking to, you have to believe 1) that McNamee is lying to the feds, 2) that the confession of longtime training partner, best buddy and fellow McNamee client Andy Pettitte -- that Pettitte took HGH (corroborating McNamee's claims) --has nothing to do with Clemens, 3) that since the season he turned 35 he went 164-73 due to outsized talent and superior training methods alone, and 4) that the bat he whipped at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series had nothing to do with 'roid rage. The last two aren't really evidence but the first two would appear to be case killers for Clemens.
Nor is Clemens in very good company with his stringent denials. Several players named in Mitchell Report already have confessed to some or more of the sins outlined, but Clemens remains one of a select few to continue to publicly deny everything. Lenny Dykstra -- long regarded as one of the game's most obvious juicers -- is another rare one in full denial mode.
In the end, the pitcher who famously postponed the "twilight of his career" (the phrase made famous by former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette in 1996) for more than a decade must think that we are all living in the twilight zone.
Mitchell Report Losers
The aforementioned 354-game-winner heads the list of losers, but he is not nearly alone.
1. Pettitte. At least he appears to be one of the most honest cheaters. Judging by their confessions, other honest (or at least somewhat honest) cheaters include Brian Roberts, Dan Naulty, F.P. Santangelo and Gary Bennett.
2. Clemens' agents, the Hendricks brothers. They don't have a massive stable anymore, but clients Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton all made the report. The Hendricks brothers also issued Clemens' most recent impossible denial.
3. The city of Houston. Not only are the local-boy-makes-good stories of Clemens and Pettitte substantially diminished, but Knoblauch, Stanton and the Hendricks brothers are all Houstonians. And now, so is Miguel Tejada, the former MVP shortstop whom the Astros acquired from Baltimore the day before the report was released. Then afterward Astros owner Drayton McLane claimed he had no idea that Tejada might wind up in the report. That makes him eligible for the 2007 Ostrich (Head-in-Sand) Award.
4. The Yankees. Lowlighted by the Houston Four, the Yankees led baseball with no fewer than 14 players among the 86 named. Geographically, they were at a disadvantage from the get-go, considering New Yorkers Kirk Radomski, the steroid salesman and serial informant, and McNamee were the star witnesses. But Radomski spent 10 seasons inside the Mets clubhouse as an attendant, so it's still an upset that Yankees outnumbered the team from Queens.
5. The Players Association. Nice to see Don Fehr admit that the union may have responded too slowly to the problem. Though technically their mistake was in stonewalling Bud Selig too aggressively. Sometimes, you lose by winning.
6. Announcer credibility. ESPN's Fernando Vina admitted that Radomski was correct in his HGH assertions about Vina but claimed that the steroid allegations were off base. YES Network's David Justice claimed that he didn't even know Radomski, then asserted he likely never had the chance to respond to Mitchell because his cell phone number changed. Time to dial up a little reality here.
7. The Orioles. With all those steroid and HGH users, you'd have thought they'd win more games.
8. Jason Grimsley and Denny Neagle. They cemented their places as two of the sleaziest ever to play the game.