Hits and misses
Best and worst moments from the hearings
Posted: Wednesday February 13, 2008 3:51PM; Updated: Wednesday February 13, 2008 4:48PM
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci joined in SI.com's live blog of Wednesday's Congressional hearings featuring Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee. Below are excerpts from Verducci's commentary as the hearings unfolded.
2:26 PM ET
Finally. Elijah Cummings is the MVP of the hearing.
Straightforward, with no grandstanding, Cummings stepped up and finally asked the most important question to Roger Clemens: Why would Brian McNamee tell the truth about Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch but lie about Clemens, especially when Pettitte, by Clemens' own testimony a honest man, backed McNamee's story?
"Congressman, I have no idea," he said, before devolving into a rambling discourse on Pettitte's friendship with him.
Cummings came back again. "How do you explain that?" Clemens again stumbled, asking why Pettitte didn't tell him when he used HGH, which was not important to the question at hand.
Finally, Cummings slammed the door on Clemens. "It's hard to believe you, sir," Cummings told Clemens. "You're one of my heroes. But it's hard to believe you."
2:15 PM ET
Virginia Foxx (R-NC) made it clear that she would rather not be at the hearings, that Congress shouldn't be involved in baseball matters. "I think we've been playing gotcha games and I don't agree with that," Foxx said. Then Foxx proceeded to prove beyond a doubt that she truly didn't belong there. She showed a poster of Clemens in four different photographs for four different teams (Boston, New York, Toronto, Houston), the exact dates of which she had no idea. "You appear to me to be about the same size," she said. "It doesn't appear to me that your size has changed much." Great. Now Foxx can tell us whether players are using PEDs just on body type in photographs. It's exactly that kind of sloppy eyeball detective work that we should have left behind a decade ago.
1:52 PM ET
Roger Clemens, the famous competitor, finally cracked. Clemens had kept his emotions in check throughout the day, but finally gave in when he was asked again about turning his back to the Mitchell investigators. Clemens this time didn't put the blame on his agents. No, he blamed Bud Selig for not tracking him down to give him a heads up about the report. "Bud Selig could have found me," said Clemens, who seems to think that pitching in the World Baseball Classic and All-Star Game gives him the benefits of any doubt. 'He could have found me. I'm an easy person to find.' It was the first time Clemens showed real anger. And he is absolutely wrong. There was nothing Selig could have or should have done. A procedure was put in place, via collective bargaining, that Mitchell was obligated to go through the players association if he wanted to contact any of its members. Mitchell was to notify the union of the player he wished to talk to and the appropriate team, based on the years involved in the subject matter. Mitchell had no other avenue. And Selig, by commissioning an independent investigation, was obligated to remain outside of the process. He had no business contacting any player or interjecting himself into Mitchell's activities -- and you can darn well know that the union would have rightly hit the roof if Selig went around the back of the union and Mitchell to contact players. Clemens' anger at Selig is misplaced, and a convenient 180-degree turn from his morning testimony that his agents did him wrong.
1:31 PM ET
Tom Davis (R-Va.) has made it clear that he is in Clemens' corner. After the recess he opened by bringing up the nanny issue as it regarded the Canseco luncheon. Davis was treading lightly around the subject, but suddenly Clemens let it drop that maybe he did stop by Canseco's house. After all the denials, Clemens basically said, "Well, yeah, it's possible I could have stopped by Canseco's house, maybe dropped off the family, swung by after golf and before going to the ballpark...." Hmmm. How did Davis follow up on that admission? Well, he didn't.
12:46 PM ET
Chairman Henry Waxman ventured into very dangerous waters when he seemed to be strongly hinting about witness tampering when Team Clemens did not deliver Clemens' nanny to the committee in a timely manner, and in fact met with her before she spoke to the committee. Clemens and his lawyers had every right to speak with her. But Clemens gave an insight into the entitlement status of professional athletes by the way he reacted to the committee's request for the nanny's name and contact number. "I did y'all a favor," Clemens protested. A favor? A congressional committee asks you to perform a duty just a few days before a hearing and it's a "favor" to comply with that request? Woo boy. What was the other option, telling Congress to get lost?
12:42 PM ET
Two and a half hours into the hearing and still none of the Congressional members have asked the key question: Why would McNamee be telling the truth about Pettitte and Knoblauch but make up whole cloth the testimony about Clemens? We've been asking the question from day one: What would be McNamee's motivation for making this up about Clemens? The question should be put to Clemens.
12:37 PM ET
One of the saddest underlying elements to this story is how players put their careers and reputations blindly in the hands of the players association and their agents. Clemens made a major mistake in choosing not to talk to Senator Mitchell. That mistake is so obvious even now to Clemens that he actually called out his longtime agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, for doing a lousy job in advising him.
It's the first time I can recall anything but total support by Clemens for his agents. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) smartly brought the issue to the forefront when she pointed out inconsistencies in Clemens' story about why he did not cooperate with Mitchell. Maloney said Clemens told 60 Minutes he was advised by counsel not to talk to Mitchell. But in his deposition Clemens six times claimed that he was not aware that Mitchell even wanted to talk to him.
"I had no idea that Senator Mitchell wanted to talk to me," Clemens told the committee. So what's the deal? Maloney wanted him to set the record straight. "I was never told by my agents-slash-attorneys," Clemens said under oath.
"Never told?" Amazing. Here Mitchell wants to talk to Clemens about steroids -- a clear signal that his professional reputation is on the line -- and the union and the Hendricks brothers don't even tell him? Who's working for whom? 'Would you say your agents did you a disservice?' Maloney asked. 'I would say so,' Clemens said. You think?