A few more thoughts from the congressional hearing with Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee.
Surely Clemens, with an ego so big that he had the gall to interrupt Rep. Henry Waxman’s closing statement, figured he’d come out of this thing on Wednesday and essentially be exonerated. And there were times on Wednesday when he performed well. He certainly looked the part, making eye contact with his interrogators, sitting upright and rigid and speaking forcefully.
But he also fumbled horrendously at times, and frankly, showed that he’s not the most articulate guy in the world. He used a word no one has ever heard before — “misremembered” — to try to explain away Andy Pettitte’s damning claims, and at other times seemed befuddled by the questioning.
And then there’s McNamee, whose case implicating Clemens received more credibility with Pettitte’s deposition, which recounted a conversation between Clemens and Pettitte and an admission from Clemens to his best friend that he indeed used HGH 10 years ago.
But McNamee wasn’t entirely clean on Wednesday. Whether he meant to or not, he came off as smug on some of his answers, had trouble explaining why he administered and distributed steroids and HGH and was called out as a liar in one exchange.
The only person who seems to have passed a credibility exam would be Pettitte, who is in an impossible position.
Pettitte, a devout and religious man, said he didn’t feel like he could be right with God unless he told the truth, which meant he had to implicate Clemens. His deposition seems to back McNamee’s story more fully, and even Clemens couldn’t bring himself to count Pettitte as anything but an upstanding individual.
Who do we believe?
It’s still a he-said, he-said situation, though McNamee has to seem at least a little more credible today than he did before Wednesday. Not only did Pettitte reveal that he and McNamee spoke about HGH and that they even spoke about Clemens’ use of HGH, but former Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch said he spoke with Mac about performance-enhancing drugs, too.
So two of the three guys McNamee fingered in the Mitchell Report say that he’s not lying. Neither of those two guys is Roger Clemens.
But isn’t McNamee a snake?
McNamee’s assertion that he kept used syringes and gauze because he didn’t fully trust Clemens is a weak explanation, and his shady history with a date rape drug allegation and old lies to investigators concerning steroids in baseball makes him a poor witness.
But Clemens kept this guy around for essentially a decade, even through the 2007 season. And doesn’t it take something of a bad guy to go from being a cop to pushing ’roids in a clubhouses for cash?
The FBI goes after lower-level mob guys to nab bigger fish all the time. What’s different about this?
And if McNamee lies, he faces serious jail time. Of course, so does Clemens now, should he face a perjury investigation, but not like McNamee. If he lies, he’s going away for a long time, and his son is dying.
What did all of this accomplish?
This is the question that can probably be argued for days. What good comes from these hearings on steroids in baseball?
The politicians like us to believe that they’re doing it for the kids, but we know it’s posturing for the most of part. But here’s the thing: because major league baseball has an anti-trust exemption, Congress is allowed to keep an eye on things and make sure the public trust isn’t violated.
And if one of the game’s greatest got that way by cheating, then he’s violated something, though the value of that is impossible to quantify.
Because sports matter to me, I want to know whether Roger Clemens deserves to be thought of in the same light as Cy Young, Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander. If he did it naturally like those guys, awesome. If he accumulated stats because he was able to hang around longer because of PEDs, that changes things.
I guess that’s why I watch, and I guess that’s why I’ve given Congress a free pass on this one.
That said, I know nothing more conclusively on Feb. 13 than I did any day before.