Well, Roger Clemens has now aired his story to a room full of reporters, and his lawyer aired a conversation between the Rocket and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee. And if you’re more confused than ever about what to believe, join the crowd.
About the only thing definitive you can say is that Clemens’ legal side should inform him to stay quiet after his appearance in front of Congress, because the more Clemens talks, the more he creates doubt about the his version of the truth.
Take this phone conversation he had with McNamee. McNamee, on at nearly two dozen occasions, asked Clemens, “What do you want me to do?” At no point, does Clemens respond by telling him to recant his story. Granted I’m not a guy with a lawyer telling me what to do, but I’d guess my instinct, were I in Clemens’ position, would be to tell McNamee to do just that.
Clemens also hurt himself when he stammered and gave a weak explanation when asked why he didn’t have a doctor inject him with the Vitamin B-12 and lidocaine — the substances Clemens acknowledges to have used. He said initally, “I didn’t know” McNamee wasn’t licensed to give some shots. That’s akin to, “Gee officer, I didn’t know the speed limit here was only 35 mph.”
One other point. When McNamee asked Clemens if he (McNamee) should show up at the press conference, Clemens seemed to ignore him.
But here’s why confusion reigns. When Clemens mentioned the report to McNamee and that “for the life of me, I’m trying to figure out why you told those guys I did steroids,” McNamee responded by saying, “I understand that.”
Not exactly the same as saying, “Because you did!”
In other words, who knows what to believe at this point. At the least, these are two very sketchy individuals. Clemens has never been forthcoming about injections he’s received; if there was nothing to hide, he surely could’ve volunteered that information any number of times he talked about his training regimen. McNamee clearly had a direct hand in baseball’s steroid epidemic, which calls into question his character and credibility, and by whistling his clients — even if compelled to do so by federal authorities — he branded himself a rat. At one point in the conversation, McNamee told Clemens he’d “go to jail for you,” which is an odd thing to say considering the reason he’s supposed to be believed is because he was trying to avoid jail.
Next up in this saga, Clemens’ appearance in front of Congress on Jan. 16. Clemens can be as angry as he wants, but it’s worth wondering if he’ll be as defiant. It’s one thing to conduct a press conference; it’s another to testify under oath.
Two questions I’d like to hear: Roger, do you think it’s possible that McNamee injected you with steroids and HGH, and told you it was Vitamin B-12 and lidocaine? If so, why weren’t you more careful about what you put in your body?
If nothing else, one incontrovertible fact has emerged from the Mitchell Report and Clemens’ part in it. Simply put, if athletes really are serious that they want a PED-free sport, they need to be much more vigilant about what’s being given to them. If they’re not, then they should be seen as accomplices to an era that’s not going away anytime soon.