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PlayBook: The Truth (Or Something Like It)
  • June 15, 2012 : 18:06
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"[Roger Clemens’] statistics do not point to innocence. We are not saying that the numbers show guilt, but we are saying that the statistics show that something unusual happened in Clemens' career as he entered his 30s."

                                      – University of Pennsylvania report on Roger Clemens’ career numbers.

It’s taken almost ten weeks of highfalutin trial talk to come to the roundabout conclusion that Brian McNamee is not only a liar but is stupid to boot. Fifty-two months and at least $20M in taxpayer dollars to prove that a baseball player probably lied to Congress but at the time was sufficiently surrounded by more prolific, albeit less talented liars that his lies would never be proven in a court of law.

This case centers around three ridiculous points:

  1. That Roger Clemens lied about attending a pool party held by known tattletale and cheater Jose Canseco.
  2. That Roger Clemens was present when Brian McNamee injected Clemens’ wife Debbie with HGH for still very unclear and probably permanently unknown reasons. And…
  3. That Roger Clemens received HGH shots administered by McNamee, who then proceeded to store the “evidence” for years in or around a beer can inside or maybe outside a FedEx box previously in his garage but now occasionally in his bedroom.

(Pause.)

Other points that seemed relevant enough to be asked in a federal perjury trial in a United States District Courtroom were what Debbie Clemens’ handicap is over 18 holes, how much the Clemenses think is a reasonable price to pay for a pair of socks and whether or not they were aware that they had bruised the delicate ego of their once friend and chief accuser Brian McNamee.

(For the record, Debbie Clemens’ handicap is 10.4, the defense produced receipts that the Clemenses spent $265 on a pair of socks and no, the Clemenses were not aware that Brian McNamee felt as though he had been brushed “to the wayside.”)

But the chief claims of this little dog and pony show, the reason for this whole messy business, are in the itemized list above, which Rusty Hardin, Clemens’ well-travelled and tested trial lawyer had little problem breaking down with the audacity of logic and the following bombastic claims of common sense:

  1. Yes, Roger Clemens and his wife were probably at Jose Canseco’s pool party; in fact, they stayed the night at the Cansecos’ prior to the day in question, an altogether weird but not uncommon practice among ball players for reasons that will never be totally clear to us normal people. This of course would be damning evidence supposing Jose Canseco’s pool was laced with the cream and the clear instead of chlorine (a concept not so totally out of the question for the fringe insane like Canseco) but in all likelihood it was probably filled with your run-of-the-mill, standard fare pool water.
  2. Gilberto Guerrero, the Assistant U.S. Attorney charged with botching prosecuting this case, really went all in here, saying it “stretched credibility to believe that Debbie Clemens allowed McNamee to enter into the master bathroom without her husband knowing about it,” going so far as to speculate what Roger might have said: “What are you doing in my master bathroom with my wife!?” And the reason Clemens didn’t say that thing I just made up, Guerrero explains, is that “[Clemens] was there that day!” (Please, hold your applause.)
  3. Maybe Roger did shoot up a bunch of HGH to pitch out of his skull in the twilight of his career or maybe he drank a beer. DNA evidence suggested some part of Clemens had certainly come in contact with some part of this sordidly kept bundle of “evidence,” but which part is impossible to determine. Was it the beer can? The needle? The fucking FedEx box? McNamee claims he kept the needle as an insurance policy for when the hammer finally dropped. He kept name-clearing DNA evidence in a symbiotic cesspool of cells, saliva and Coors for six years and change.

At this point Gilberto Guerrero chimes back in with: “If McNamee was trying to fabricate this evidence, don't you think he would have done a better job of it?" Well, Gil, we’re not entirely sold on the overall intelligence of Mr. McNamee right now. In fact, you might say we suspect he’s a little slow, a few bricks short of the proverbial full load.

But to summarize: the prosecution’s case is one part hogwash (unless we assume that mere contact with Jose Canseco constitutes cheating or that Canseco, in some weird Rite of Passage, insists all his friends be injected with a complimentary shot of HGH when entering his home); one part pure (and absolutely wild) speculation, just short of the AUSA actually putting on the patented Roger “The Rocket” Clemens puppet show; and one part ruined by the sheer stupidity of Brian McNamee.

If convicted of all charges (six in total) Clemens would face up to 30 years in a federal prison and a $1.5M fine. Under federal sentencing guidelines that gets whittled down to about 21 months (!), and after this debacle at the taxpayers’ expense, he’ll probably walk with a suspended sentence at most (he did after all attend Canseco’s party, a fact he “misremembered” in his original testimony).

As for the Truth, that capital T word we tend to lose among the loopholes of logic, well, this is the AUSA’s second kick at the (beer) can and they’re coming up empty again; their evidence is so weak, so polluted, speculative, old and getting older, that chances are they won’t be afforded the luxury most ball players are of a third strike.

Meanwhile, Clemens will take his 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, seven Cy Youngs, two pitching triple crowns and a rare MVP award into the Hall of Fame, unhampered and un-asterisked but maybe not un-abetted. We’ll always wonder how one of the most naturally gifted pitchers ever got better at the height of the steroid era and in the decline of his career. How Roger Clemens, well into in his 14th, 15th and 16th seasons, did what very few others have managed to do and defied the tests of time.

read more: sports, baseball, playbook

2 comments

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    This is all well and good, but I'd like to see one of baseball's other great pitching mysteries answered - Was it Heinz or Frank's Red Hot on Schilling's sock in 2004?
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