Clemens is unlike any other player associated with the Steroids Era. Hundreds of ballplayers have used performance-enhancing drugs. Only a fraction of them have been publicly identified as users. None have gone anywhere near the lengths Clemens has to defend themselves. He even asked to appear before Congress.
The hearing was alternately confusing and depressing. McNamee, wearing the hangdog look of a ruined man, and Clemens, so indignant he had to be gaveled into silence by chairman Henry Waxman, were each called unbelievable by committee members. Bleaker still, Congress exposed itself as incapable of examining an issue, even one as nonpolitical as baseball, in a nonpartisan manner. The Democrats largely hammered Clemens, and the Republicans largely supported him, none more embarrassingly than Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), who rushed out of her seat upon the final gavel to embrace Clemens and his wife, Debbie.
LET THERE be no confusion about this when it comes to Clemens: The man is convinced he is telling the truth. He sleeps well at night because he knows he is right. His certainty allows only two possible explanations for the highly detailed story that McNamee is telling, part of which Pettitte has supported: Either it is complete bunk—an elaborate ruse in which McNamee is knowingly perjuring himself and risking prison time for no apparent reason ("We don't have an answer for why he's lying," Clemens's lawyer Rusty Hardin admitted in his client's deposition)—or it did happen and Clemens reached a point years ago when he convinced himself it never did.
"I think he's the one guy who could probably beat the [lie-detector] test," McNamee told SI.com after watching Clemens on 60 Minutes last month.
When deposed by the committee on Feb. 4, Pettitte said Clemens told him in 1999 that he had used HGH. Pettitte spoke about that conversation with his wife, Laura, and McNamee immediately afterward.
"You have no doubt about that recollection?" Pettitte was asked in his deposition.
"I mean, no," he said. "I mean, he told me that."
So in March 2005, after Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro brought their reputations to the Rayburn Building grill room, a nervous Pettitte, according to his deposition, asked his buddy Clemens, "Dude, what are you going to say if ... any of the reporters ask you if you had ever used HGH?"
"What are you talking about?" Clemens replied.
"You had told me you had used HGH."