Highlights from the blog (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday February 13, 2008 3:51PM; Updated: Wednesday February 13, 2008 4:48PM
12:10 PM ET
Credibility is an important theme in this hearing. And there's nothing like immediately blowing your credibility when you make reference to one 'Jose Can-SEEK-o,' as did Paul Kanjorski (D-PA.). Not only does Kanjorski not know how to pronounce Canseco's name, but he obviously has no clue how unreliable a character is Canseco. Remember, Canseco wrote in his book about repeated discussions he had with Clemens about steroids, and now he's claiming he never did. And the luncheon at Canseco's house -- whether Clemens was there or not -- is rather unimportant when matched against all other testimony and evidence. It was wasted time. Memo to Kanjorski: not a good idea to hitch your line of questioning to Jose Canseco.
11:59 AM ET
Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) was a star of the last congressional hearing when he pushed baseball on therapeutic use exemptions. And the congressman came up big again when he showed that rather than get involved in grandstanding, he went out and did his homework to be prepared for the hearing. Lynch and his staff studied an MRI report from Clemens' days in Toronto, regarding an abscess, and consulted with medical experts.
In one case Lynch redacted Clemens' name and had a medical expert examine the MRI report. The doctor's findings show that Clemens' buttocks problem appeared not to have anything to do with B-12 shots or a strain, but were more consistent with steroid injections. "Given the physical evidence, [it] seems consistent with what Mr. McNamee is saying," Lynch told Clemens. Dr. Ron Taylor, the Toronto physician, told Lynch that he gave "close to one thousand B-12 shots" and never had such a complication. Asked about it, Clemens basically called out Taylor as either being wrong or incompetent. "If he gave me a bad shot he gave me a bad shot," Clemens said.
11:45 AM ET
Dan Burton (R-IN) sounded naive about why McNamee would keep the syringes and gauze pads. Burton, coming across as a B-grade actor trying to act tough, and occasionally unable to keep his facts or line of questioning straight, apparently thinks it's impossible for someone to work for an employer and simultaneously maintain a level of distrust. Hello? Happens all the time.
And what was McNamee to do, tell Clemens, "Hey, I have a gnawing feeling that someday you might throw me under the bus to protect your own name, so that's enough for me to give up my only gainful employment?" Burton was also hung up on the "lies" that McNamee told the press. O.K., you're telling me a United States representative knows nothing about the practice of telling "lies" to the press? Please.
The issue isn't what McNamee and Clemens told the press. It's what they're saying under oath. Burton clinched the Grandstanding Award of the Day.
11:30 AM ET
John Tierney (D-Ma) repeatedly challenged the credibility of both McNamee and Clemens. His probing of Clemens was the most pointed. Clemens seemed unable or unwilling to explain why he testified three times that he never spoke to McNamee about HGH, but then later, and only when prompted on his wife's HGH use, did he say, Well, yes, I did talk to McNamee about HGH. "That's the inconsistency," Tierney said. Clemens, at one point turning to gain advice from counsel, never did give Tierney a satisfactory explanation that could reconcile the discrepancy.
11:21 AM ET
The disconnect between the stories of McNamee and Clemens took a graphic turn under the questioning of Tom Davis (R-VA) Davis referred to sworn statements from McNamee that Clemens bled through his designer pants after getting a shot in his buttocks, prompting Clemens to make a subsequent habit of carrying Band-Aids to prevent similar incidents. Clemens? He did not recall the incident happening. McNamee also confirmed what has been suspected ever since the playing of that awkward phone call between McNamee and Clemens: that the trainer suspected Clemens was up to something clandestine in that phone call. He clearly didn't trust Clemens. "I realized it was being taped and someone might be listening," McNamee said. So why didn't McNamee just blurt out that he was telling the truth? "I was afraid of hurting Roger Clemens," he said.
11:07 AM ET
So much for Congress' reputation for treating stars with kid gloves. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the leadoff hitter, opened his time by reminding Clemens that he was under oath and making sure Clemens understood what that meant. The moment was chilling in its abruptness and what it implied. And Cummings came right at Clemens with the closest thing to a smoking gun that exists: the statements of Pettitte. Cummings quoted Pettitte on why he was forthcoming in his deposition: "I have to tell you all the truth and one day I have to give an account to God and not to nobody else what I've done in my life." So Cummings, after establishing Pettitte as an honest man, asked Clemens, "Do you think Mr. Pettitte was lying?" Said Clemens, "I think Andy has misheard." And Clemens later characterized it as "Andy misremembers."
Clemens walked as far as he good up to the line of calling his friend a liar. And Clemens' logic fell apart under questioning regarding his friendship with Pettitte. It was Clemens' position that they were so close that if any one of them would have used HGH they would have discussed it with one another. But Cummings smartly pointed out that Pettitte in fact did use HGH and did not tell Clemens about it. And for those of you who like to read body language, will somebody please get Clemens some lip balm? The poor guy is going to lick his lips raw by the time this hearing ends.
10:35 AM ET
Anyone who thinks Congress has no business hauling Clemens into their arena should have been paying attention to the revelation made by chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) at the start of the hearings. Waxman said he was ready to cancel the hearing and issue a bipartisan report, apparently flummoxed by the completely divergent stories being told by Clemens and McNamee. But Waxman said Clemens' attorneys pushed him to make sure the hearings went off as scheduled. Their position was that Clemens needed this hearing, that it would have been unfair to Clemens "without giving Clemens the opportunity to testify in public." Bottom line: The Rocket asked for this.
10:07 AM ET
The Mitchell Report is really what's on trial here, and it's already taken a hit in terms of its comprehensiveness. McNamee now claims that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs even more times than what he told Mitchell. And now there's word from Andy Pettitte that his story about using HGH only in 2002 -- confirming the assertion in the Mitchell Report -- is also incomplete, with Pettitte saying that he also turned to his illegal helper in 2004. It's easy to assume that the Mitchell Report only scratched the surface, and those players who have given the partial admissions are being dishonest. The preferred disclaimer has been, "I only used HGH, not steroids, and only to recover from (fill in the injury here)." Right.
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