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The Rocket’s Math

If you get a few minutes, amuse yourself by checking out the 1,800-word, 44-page report released by Roger Clemens’ agent, Randy Hendricks and two associates. First thought that hit me when I saw it: Who was the poor intern that got stuck with binding that thing together? Second thing: Where were these charts when I was failing geometry?

Seriously, though, this report doesn’t change a thing. I’d argue that it only makes Clemens look more guilty. As my geometry teacher once said — and I did ultimately pass that class — mathematics can prove almost anything, but common sense is called common sense for a reason.

Translation in this case: Most innocent men don’t go to such calculating tactics to prove their innocence, because they’re comfortable with the knowledge that they aren’t guilty. And let’s remember something very important here: Clemens is not on trial. So if truly doesn’t care what people think — and that has been the company line, hasn’t it? — then why is he investing so much energy to prove his point? As he told Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes,” it’s near impossible to prove a negative.

Clemens’ attempt to do so is not doing him much good.  In this lates entry into the affair, the charts are supposed to tell us that Clemens did not have any strange spikes in his career performance and that his career was not as astounding as the numbers might indicate.  But like everything in this case, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Here’s what I’d like to see. I’d like to see video clips of Clemens pitching early in the 1998 season with Toronto side-by-side with clips of Clemens pitching later in the 1998 season.  I want to see what kind of life were on the Rocket’s pitches when he went 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA through the first two months, and what kind of life his pitches had when he went 15-0 with an ERA under two the rest of the way. By life, I mean natural movement — the kind you get from really being able to drive through the ball, and the kind that Clemens was lacking so much two years prior that he was forced to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays of all teams.

Brian McNamee supposedly injected Clemens right about the time Clemens’ 1998 season took off, so that’s why such video footage would be so helpful. Of course, we don’t see that in this report, because that could be damaging evidence for the Clemens camp. Imagine seeing the ball pushed from Clemens’ hand early in 1998, and then imagine it exploding from his hand after the dates McNamee allegedly injected him. I’m guessing Team Roger wouldn’t have a set answer for that one.

The point is, and I’ve said this before, is that Clemens should shut his mouth, and his “team” should fade to the back. As Clemens himself seemed to say on “60 Minutes,” it’s rather impossible to prove a negative. The more his camp tries to prove it, the more they make him look guilty (which, by the way, I think he is. I often wonder if Clemens did shoot up with PED’s and has now lied about it so often that he believes his lies. But that pathological issue is a subject for a psychiatrist, not me).

In the meantime, the game will go on without him. And as he fades from the spotlight, the questions will go to his children, which if you think about it is probably the saddest part of this story. Clemens, on the other hand, told us he couldn’t wait to be out of the public sector, so he could be left alone. Thus, it sure seems sinister that he’s spending so much energy making sure his name stays in the spotlight.

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The Rocket’s Red Glare

I do not believe Roger Clemens. Not after watching him on “60 Minutes” with Mike Wallace on Sunday. Not after seeing that he has filed a defamation suit against former personal trainer Brian McNamee. Probably not ever.

Hey, I realize I’m more cyncial than most. But really, wouldn’t you be a fool to believe anything that comes out of this guy’s mouth? If he was so innocent, why didn’t he issue some kind of statement, without any lawyering, on the day the Mitchell Report was released? An interesting article on ESPN.com over the weekend by the network’s interview coach stated the obvious when it said, “the instinct of the innocent is to talk and the instinct of the guilty is to run to a lawyer.” Exactly.

Here’s another problem I have with Clemens: In the video he released proclaiming his innocence, he insisted that McNamee had not injected him with steroids or HGH, but he conveniently left out that McNamee had injected him with lidocaine and Vitamin B-12, a fact that came out only during his intervew with Wallace. Clemens has done several interviews regarding his conditioning over the years, and never once mentioned that he was being injected with anything. If there was nothing shady about that, then why not volunteer it?

Clemens’ admission about the lidocaine and Vitamin B12 also seemed a little too rehearsed for me. Watch the interview and see how he spits out the answer, the smugness in his voice. A little too smug for me.

It was also comical to hear how he doesn’t understand why 24 or 25 years in the public spotlight doesn’t buy him “an inch of respect,” or any “benefit of the doubt.” Sometimes, the absolute inability of some star athletes to grip reality is unbelievable. If Clemens wants to complain about that, then he should take it up with Donald Fehr and his fellow union members, who a) long have resisted drug testing and b) have been caught in more lies than the boy who cried wolf. 

The bottom line regarding this whole thing, as colleague Gary Peterson wrote today, is that the Clemens spin job is in speed cycle right now. Let’s see how he answers some really difficult questions that could come in a press conference today (Uh, Roger, why didn’t you lobby the union and your fellow baseball teammates to pine for the elimination of performance-enhancing drugs?) and how he performs in front of Congress, if he chooses to show up.

Speaking of Congress, let’s keep one thing in mind. It’s entirely possible that the Clemens lawsuit was filed not with complete vindication in mind but rather to give Clemens an excuse to either skip the Congressional hearings (he was invited, not subpoenaed) or be choosy with the questions he answers. It’s difficult to win a defamation suit, especially when one is a public figure, so Clemens deserves credit for going full bore with a lawsuit, because it will expose him to sworn testimony in a court of law. Well, it’s hard for me to imagine, anyway, but again, maybe I’m more cynical than most.

In the final analysis, my feelings about Clemens haven’t really changed. Yes, I think he’s a Hall of Famer, because he was one of the best pitchers of his era, and if he used, he certainly wasn’t alone. But he’s absolutely NOT a guy I’d ever have pitch a huge game for me. All you need to know about that are the games he pitched and lost against Dave Stewart in the late 1980s and early 90s. 

In the meantime, he’s not a guy to be trusted at his word.