Monday, December 17, 2007

Texas Toast

No player was hit harder by the release of the Mitchell Report than Roger Clemens. Sure, Barry Bonds is (the only player) mentioned more often in the former senator's report, but let's face it, the damage was done there long ago.

Following the release of the report, the Rocket's lawyer Rusty Hardin issued the following non-denial, “It is very unfair to include Roger’s name in this report. He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong. There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today."

Essentially, Hardin called Mitchell's witness against Clemens a liar without ever directly denying any of former trainer Brian McNamee's allegations of steroid use (he never said I didn't do it, he just said McNamee's allegations are false - what? That McNamee administered the steroid injections? That it was those specific steroids? What exactly is false?). Hardin made no indication that he would be filing any sort of legal action against the report (and the last time I checked, Major League Baseball, which has assumed indemnity for any legal action, has very deep pockets).

The biggest problem for Clemens and his legacy arose this weekend when former teammate and long-time friend Andy Pettitte, who was named in McNamee's testimony, lent the report a whopping dose of credibility by copping to the use of HGH - a year after he denied ever using the hormone (his name came up with the Jason Grimsley incident).

While Pettitte's apology was offensive to anyone with half a brain - "If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize...If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication." Where's the actual apology there? IF? There are more qualifiers in that statement than they have at the Olympic Trials for Track and Field.

This is tantamount to saying, "I'm not sorry for what I did. I'm sorry I got caught, and I'm sorry YOU'RE offended. But, no, I'm not sorry for what I did."

I think that Dan Graziano from the Newark Star-Ledger (Yankees country by the way) said it best when he put the following to paper -

If he truly felt bad about what he did, why didn't he answer Mitchell's questions as earnestly as he's always answered ours? Every player Mitchell named in the report was presented with an opportunity to see the evidence against him and respond. But the final lines of page 176 say about Pettitte what Mitchell says about almost every other player in the document.

"In order to provide Pettitte with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me," Mitchell writes. "He declined."

Brian McNamee, the personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte, told Mitchell that Pettitte asked him about HGH during the 2001-02 off-season. McNamee told Mitchell that he discouraged Pettitte from using it, but that Pettitte brought it up again while on the disabled list in 2002 and McNamee flew to Tampa, Fla., where he injected Pettitte with HGH "on two to four occasions."

McNamee also told Mitchell that Pettitte asked him, in 2003, "what he should say if a reporter asked Pettitte whether he ever used performance-enhancing substances. McNamee told him he was free to say what he wanted, but that he should not go out of his way to bring it up. McNamee also asked Pettitte not to mention his name."

Pettitte knew what he was doing was wrong and he sought advice on how to get away with it. And when Mitchell found out, and tried to present him with the evidence, Pettitte ignored him. Only now that he's been caught does he come remotely clean, and he does so in the way of a cornered criminal, angry at his pursuer for catching him. Why should we believe there's not more to the story? What reason do we have to take his word that he's been clean for all but two days of his life?

No comments: