NOWHERE IN his testimony does Clemens second-guess himself—it's the same Clemens I've known around baseball. I trained with him once, in 2003 under McNamee's direction. We ran through one of his famous SEAL workouts on a turf field and then in a gym near Clemens's apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was early one wet morning, after he had pitched the previous night. McNamee, gloomy as the leaden sky, spoke only to softly grunt the next order or number of repetitions.
"Oh, he was fine, he was great," Clemens said in his deposition about McNamee's skills as a trainer. "Not much of a personality, but that's all right."
What struck me about Clemens, on the other hand, was how much he enjoyed the work. He cracked jokes and came more alive with every rise in his pulse rate, each drop of sweat that fell. It seemed he never left the high school jock phase, more boyish and unsophisticated in his fervor than clinically professional. He was, after all, a pitcher who wore Ninja Turtles on his shoelaces and eye black on his face for a playoff game from which he was ejected for arguing; who swathed much of his body, including his groin, with hot liniment to prepare for starts; and who kept his equipment in a hard case labeled MIB, a nod to the movie Men in Black, giving it the unintended approximation of a kid's lunch box.
After our workout Clemens drove his Hummer, another grown-up toy, which he called the Mean Machine, to a diner and ordered his usual: a bacon cheeseburger with a slab of chicken on the side. When I asked Clemens why he worked so hard, he gave two reasons: It gave him "peace of mind" whenever he took the mound—security in diligence—and he feared losing his fastball. Clemens would rather have retired than transition to a finesse pitcher. He was a power pitcher as much as he was a Texan, as much as he was his mother's son. There could be no other way.
The grilling in the Rayburn Building did not change Rocket. McGwire, in his St. Patrick's Day--green tie and his grandpa glasses, shrunk before our eyes. Sosa lost his nerve and his charm. Palmeiro wagged a finger to emphasize his innocence, but that display is remembered for its impudence, given his positive steroid test just two months later. Jose Canseco denounced the pro-steroids message of his own book virtually before the ink dried. But Clemens gave no ground.
Hardin, Clemens's attorney, knew his client was putting himself at risk of a criminal investigation by protesting so loudly and testifying on his own behalf. Clemens, though, is too sure of his innocence to have known any other way.
MCNAMEE'S STORY is full of potentially damning details: blood, he said caused by steroid injections, seeping through the seat of Clemens's designer pants; used syringes and steroid vials (undergoing lab analysis); confirmation from Pettitte and former Yankees infielder Chuck Knoblauch that what McNamee told Mitchell about them was true without exception; the HGH admission by Clemens, as recalled by Pettitte; a boast McNamee said he heard Clemens make to Canseco, the admitted steroid user, at a bar in Miami: "I won two Cy Young Awards on that s---."
Was all of it made up? On the day before the Mitchell Report came out, McNamee agreed to meet with two Clemens-hired investigators, who taped the interview. McNamee has known Clemens since 1998, when both worked for the Blue Jays, and Pettitte since 2000, after Clemens, in his second year with New York, persuaded the Yankees to hire McNamee with money taken from Clemens's salary. McNamee knew the two pitchers well enough to tell the investigators exactly how they would react to his story: "Well, I can't see Andy telling you anything different than what I told you, and Roger probably, because he doesn't remember any of it, I don't know. I can't see Roger remembering all that...."
Clemens does not remember because he believes none of it happened. Rocket is sure of it.