We can give Roger Clemens this: He’s apparently dumb enough to believe himself.
If Clemens hadn’t made a second career out of talking out of both sides of his mouth for more than two decades, perhaps it might be easier to believe him heading into tomorrow’s congressional hearing. Maybe.
After all, it’s not like Clemens’ appearance in the Mitchell Report was exactly a “Crying Game” moment. Many had long suspected that he had dabbled in some sort of performance-enhancing drugs based on the dramatic upturn in his performance as he grew older and the way he doubled in size over the past decade. That’s what we loved about Clemens, we got older…he stayed the same age.
Tomorrow, Clemens will get his opportunity to go mano a mano with accuser and former trainer Brian McNamee (and without former teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch as well as Kurt Radomski) in Washington in a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, yet another proceeding that should have no place or time on Capitol Hill, but will draw more viewers and attention than anything discussed about Iraqi reform over the past three years.
McNamee, of course, was a protagonist in the Mitchell Report, claiming he injected Clemens 16 times with steroids and HGH between 1998 and 2001. Clemens maintains he never took anything stronger than B-12 and if he did then someone slipped something into his Flintstones vitamins vial.
Last week, McNamee presented photos that he claimed provided evidence of syringes that he injected Clemens with, saving them as souvenirs for the past seven years, and they were immediately scoffed at by Clemens’ legal team.
"It is just not credible," Clemens lawyer Lenny Breuer said in a statement. "Who in their right mind does such a thing?”
Who in their right mind makes an eBay bid on a potato chip shaped like King Friday? They’re out there though. Why are we to believe that what McNamee held on to is so out of the realm of possibility? Now instead of heading to clemfan214ever in rural Illinois, they’re headed to Congress, where Clemens attempts to clear his name for few other reasons that his own, personal ego.
In delivering the business to Clemens today on Foxsports.com, Jason Whitlock writes:
If Roger Clemens is lying — which I tend to believe he is — then his major crime is being unable to imagine a life worth living without constant, pervasive fan adulation.
Seriously, if the guy isn't telling the truth, all he's really fighting for is the right to show up in any restaurant in America and get a table without waiting, a round of drinks on the house and some groupie telling him he's the greatest.
He's a crackhead, a celebrity addicted to human lips resting on the crack of his/her rear end.
And, as we know, crackheads do dumb stuff, like spend a week in the nation's capital whining and dining lying politicians, begging them to believe that the game's greatest pitcher took B-12 shots in the butt, not steroids.
No one, and I mean no one, lies more frequently and boldly than a crackhead in search of his next hit/kiss of the rear.
In that respect, Congress isn’t exactly helping the situation, or providing hope that tomorrow will be as mudslinging as we'd like, as half of the 41 committee members met privately with Clemens last week, posing for photographs and signing autographs. However you look at it, that’s an embarrassing development for Clemens’ side and these politicians, leaving McNamee surely twisting in the wind heading into tomorrow.
As CNNSI.com's Jon Heyman writes, "Following Clemens' fleshing-pressing session, Rep. Edolphus Towns, (D-NY) came away sounding like a fawning Yankees fan in the New York Times, declaring what a swell guy Clemens is, and that McNamee himself better be on the lookout for perjury charges."
What McNamee does have going for him, however, is what Pettitte may have said to the committee. Newsday reports today that Pettitte’s affidavit helps support the account of McNamee: “Sources said McNamee has told investigators that in the winter of 2002, he, Clemens and Pettitte were working out together at the gym in Clemens' Houston home. According to the sources, McNamee says that during a break in the workout, Pettitte went over to McNamee by himself and asked: ‘How come you don't give me the stuff you give Roger?’ McNamee supposedly replied, ‘Because it's illegal.’”
Of course, Pettitte has since admitted that McNamee eventually gave him shots of HGH, an admission that might have been a good idea for Clemens as well. We don’t exactly hear Miguel Tejada’s name every day and unlike Clemens, he’s still playing. Pettitte is going to pitch this season, and the only nagging he’ll likely hear about the Mitchell Report is about Clemens’ involvement, not his own. Gary Sheffield, Eric Gagne, Brian Roberts, they are all moving on, and hardly anyone is asking them about steroids as spring training approaches. Why, indeed aren’t they the story?
Because Clemens has taken this upon himself to play himself the victim of wrongdoing, and it wouldn’t truly astound anyone if he actually believed his innocence. That’s what happens with compulsive liars, they oftentimes let their convenience get in the way of the facts. Like how Toronto is close to Texas.
Writes the Houston Chronicle’s Steve Campbell:
Team Clemens can scream all it wants about chain-of-custody issues or whether or not the pitcher was at a 1998 Jose Canseco party. If Clemens' DNA proves to match that of the collected evidence, he's not just a goner in the court of public opinion. The federal government will be on him like stink at a stockyard, trying to throw the book at him for lying.
If the DNA doesn't match, if the forensic experts determine the evidence to be phonier than a presidential candidate's smile, then McNamee might want to stock up on soap on a rope. He'll be locked up for a while.
Why would McNamee squirrel away biohazard waste in his basement? Assume, for a moment, that he's not two forks short of a place setting. As an ex-New York cop, he's not naïve. He knew that dispensing steroids and HGH was against the law. He knew that if caught, he had about as much of a chance at a Nobel Prize as of getting people to take his word over that of a superstar player. He'd need something to back up his word.
No other players — not Andy Pettitte, not Chuck Knoblauch — have come forward to dispute what McNamee said about them in the Mitchell Report. If McNamee is telling the truth about Clemens, too, then his instincts to stash some evidence may prove to be his salvation. When Clemens couldn't get a certain New York Mets catcher out with his stuff, he began throwing fastballs at Mike Piazza's head. Clemens is still throwing high, hard ones — this time at McNamee.
Clemens’ lawyers are trying to paint McNamee as a man with a vendetta. But who do you want to believe? The guy who has been lying for years about everything from geographical locales to assuming a three-foot shard of wood was a rounded rawhide, or the guy who goes directly to jail for lying to George Mitchell about what he knew about Clemens and friends (now including Debbie)? He has evidence, and nobody else is disputing his claims. Yet, here is Clemens, calling him a liar.
One of them is, and one might be going to jail because of it.
If it’s McNamee, the Clemens camp will celebrate clearing his name, and sending the former trainer to jail, where he’ll be apart from his sick child and family. If Clemens is proved to be caught in a lie though, what excuse will these same fawning politicians give so that our hero doesn’t see any jail time? Because does anyone see any way possible that he does jail time? At least until we find Rafael Palmeiro behind bars.
McNamee? Doesn’t matter. Nobody but his family will miss him. Clemens has a Hall of Fame bid to worry about as well as Houston area speaking engagements. Heyman presents 11 items Clemens needs to overcome in order to clear his name, a daunting task for certain. But jail? Can't see it.
He’s also got that ESPN promotional trip to Disney World later this month. We’d pay good money for everybody to come clean and to have a shot of Clemens and McNamee riding down Splash Mountain together. Alas, only one of them is going down.
Clemens made himself look worse after “60 Minutes.” He made himself look comical after playing that taped conversation. Tomorrow we get what is assumed to be the final chapter, though we fully understand now that Clemens never really goes away. He'll still be fighting for his name, even if nobody really even cares anymore.