Monday, January 07, 2008

Questioning of Clemens leads to more questions.

I wanted to believe Roger Clemens.

Really, I did.

But at the end of his 60 Minutes interview Sunday evening, I felt as though I had more questions than answers. The once shoe-in Hall of Fame pitcher was brought on the popular news magazine show to answer accusations of his steroid use. Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee alleged in the Mitchell Report, released publicly on December 13, that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) on several occasions from 1998 through 2001.

The first question I had when all of this occurred was what incentive did McNamee have to lie? There is certainly no financial gain to be made from such a fabrication. On the 60 Minutes piece, Clemens was asked that very question. He replied that McNamee was merely trying to avoid jail for buying and moving steroids.

That brought me to my next question: Wouldn’t perjury result in a much harsher penalty than distribution of steroids? Besides, Clemens’ good friend and teammate Andy Pettitte confirmed McNamee’s allegations of Pettitte himself receiving injections of HGH back in 2002. With that admission, combined with Clemens’ initial non-response to allegations of his own use, McNamee appeared vindicated. Besides, it was only within the past week or two that Clemens had finally issued emphatic denials. So why the delayed response, Roger? My guess is he was consulting with his attorneys on how to craft a reply to McNamee’s allegations.

To further add to the escalating drama, some audio clips of Clemens’ January 4th telephone conversation with McNamee were released to the public.

A recording of last Friday's conversation between Clemens and Brian McNamee was played Monday at the start of Clemens' news conference. Clemens' lawyers said that because McNamee didn't deny Clemens' claims that he never used steroids, it amounted to proof that Clemens was telling the truth.

During the tape, McNamee never said he lied when he told baseball investigator George Mitchell last year that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001.

I was especially intrigued by two different statements uttered by McNamee. Keep in mind, McNamee had no idea the conversation was being recorded.

"I'll go to jail, I'll do whatever you want”

Now, was McNamee being hyperbolic here or was he insinuating that he would tell prosecutors he lied about Clemens’ steroid use (even though he didn’t lie) to help Roger save face? After all, McNamee conceded to Clemens’ that Roger treated him “like family” during their working relationship.

"I'm in your corner. I'd also like not to go to jail, too."

My take here is that McNamee is saying “Look, Roger. I love ya like a brother. I really feel for you and your plight. But if I tell prosecutors that I lied under oath, I’m going to jail. I don’t want to do that.”

Then McNamee asked repeatedly "what do you want me to do?"

After filing a defamation suit, all Clemens wants McNamee to do now is show up in court.

Clemens filed the suit Sunday night in Harris County District Court in Texas, listing 15 alleged statements McNamee made to the baseball drug investigator George Mitchell. Clemens claimed the statement were "untrue and defamatory."

"According to McNamee, he originally made his allegations to federal authorities after being threatened with criminal prosecution if he didn't implicate Clemens," according to the 14-page petition.

To me, that is a whole new can of worms. Were there Federal authorities so hell-bent on nabbing a big name like Clemens in their steroids crackdown that they coerced McNamee into making such statements?

That is the question that I, as a baseball fan, desperately want answered.


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