Desperation pitch (cont.)
Posted: Monday February 11, 2008 2:58PM; Updated: Monday February 11, 2008 4:24PM
Here is part of what Clemens has to overcome ...
1. McNamee had no good reason to make up his very specific story of 16 injections for Clemens from 1998-2001, and plenty of reason to tell the truth. Mitchell himself called McNamee's explanations "compelling." McNamee always had denied steroid usage by Clemens, right up until the point the feds told him he could become a target if he didn't start telling the truth. It makes little sense for McNamee to have switched his story to a lie at exactly that precise moment when the feds warned him he better tell the truth.
2. McNamee had nothing to gain by fabricating a story of Clemens' steroid use. It certainly doesn't put him in a good light; it diminishes the work he'd done with Clemens in helping turn him into a superhero and closes the door on any future MLB-related jobs. Which is precisely why he denied it for years.
3. The House committee reveres Mitchell, treating him with such reverence during his testimony last month that at least one of them worried aloud about whether his questioning might cause Mitchell to miss a train out of town.
4. The Mitchell Report is standing up well so far. It contained 89 names, including 60-plus new names, and the only full denials so far came from Lenny Dykstra, who no one believes, plus David Justice and Clemens.
5. Clemens' own taped "evidence'' backfired on him. His secretly-recorded 17-minute tape proved exactly nothing. It certainly didn't incriminate McNamee. However, it did raise one major question for Clemens to answer: Why, if Clemens finally has his chance to confront his former employee and the man who supposedly fabricated a story about his steroid usage, didn't he call him out? Why didn't he say, in 17 long minutes, something like, "Why did you make this stuff up? Why are you trying to ruin me?'' The most likely reason is that he wouldn't have liked the answer.
6. The claim by Clemens' lawyers that McNamee made up a meeting between Clemens and Jose Canseco at a party relies on Canseco, who himself suggested probable steroid use by Clemens in Canseco's best-selling book Juiced. McNamee recalled a conversation between Clemens and Canseco at Canseco's house party that preceded Clemens asking McNamee about steroids, a story that is recounted in Mitchell's report. Clemens' lawyers claim that their client wasn't even at the party. But if Canseco is the best they got, that could be a bad sign. Even if Canseco doesn't recall Clemens being at this particular party, Canseco himself revealed frank discussions with Clemens about steroids in Juiced -- "... I've never seen Roger Clemens do steroids, and he never told me that he did. But we've talked about what steroids could do for you, in different combinations ...'' and all but speculated that Clemens was a user. And Clemens never came after Canseco hard, by the way.
7. Clemens' lawyers have been trying to paint McNamee as a liar in part because of an incident involving McNamee and several other Yankees employees that occurred at the pool of the Yankees' St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel in 2001. While those investigators believed McNamee wasn't completely truthful with them, that investigation went nowhere and no charges were filed against anyone. Beyond that, Clemens continued to think highly enough of McNamee that he employed him right up until the release of Mitchell's report.
8. Clemens' claim on 60 Minutes that McNamee shot him in the butt not with steroids but with B-12 and lidocaine is being treated skeptically by experts. Canseco revealed in his book that "B-12'' was code for steroids, especially among pitchers (including Clemens, according to Canseco) and medical experts have said that lidocaine wouldn't typically be administered in the butt.
9. Andy Pettitte confirmed McNamee's story of HGH usage about him, and is expected to do the same at the hearing. Plus, Chuck Knoblauch also will be called, and is also seen as likely to confirm McNamee's account. Assuming that's the case, it'll be hard to explain why McNamee would tell the exact truth about them but make up a story about Clemens. Pettitte has switched away from Clemens' lawyer and reports have surfaced that they aren't as close as previously believed. Though Pettitte obviously looked up to Clemens, working out with him and McNamee, I don't believe the two pitchers are best friends. It's possible Pettitte could take some middle ground, perhaps recalling conversations with McNamee about Clemens' alleged steroid usage but no such conversations with Clemens. But that's probably the best Clemens can hope for.
10. McNamee produced syringes, vials and gauze pads from his alleged injections into Clemens, instruments that could prove to the smoking gun if Clemens' DNA and steroid remnants are found together. Sounding like he expects the worst, Clemens' lawyer Rusty Hardin called this "fabricated evidence.'' Towns called McNamee's revelation "weird.'' And that may be so. But McNamee was a police detective who saw himself as the vulnerable little guy in this affair. For whatever reason, McNamee never seemed to trust Clemens. Some may see it as weird. But most will see it as prudent if it contains what McNamee said it contains.
11. Clemens' agents' statistical claim that Clemens' career path was not extraordinary isn't fooling anyone. The reality is, his career path showed an unexpected, unreal spike just at the time most pitchers begin to diminish. His ERA the last four seasons in Boston when he was age 30-33, when most pitchers are in their late prime, was 3.77. Yet, he would pitch another 11 seasons to a 3.39 ERA and win another four Cy Young awards.
Clemens' ego is bigger than all of Texas, built though years of adoration of those near and far. In the end, that could be his downfall.
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