Steroids and Roger Clemens: The Needle and the Damage Done

It’s not that I’ve deliberately avoided covering the latest revelations about Roger Clemens, but damn, it seems like whenever I start to write something, something else happens. So I thought, okay, stop. Let things play out and then write.

But damn it, I can’t do that now.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s happened in the past week or so.

Chuck Knoblauch appeared from the witness relocation program to meet with Congressional investigators last week. Andy Pettitte met with these same investigators on Monday. If Brian McNamee’s attorneys are to believed, Pettitte testified that he and Rocket talked about steroids and HGH, which would contradict statements coming from Rocket. Rocket, meanwhile, spoke to these investigators on Tuesday. Brian McNamee is currently meeting with the investigators. And all are set to appear before Congress next Wednesday. It should also be noted that the meetings with the investigators are considered to be under oath, and they will all be under oath come next week’s testimony.

One of the things we’ve been hearing from Rocket’s people is that there’s no smoking syringe. Yesterday, that changed. Yesterday, the New York Daily News reported that, in January, Brian McNamee provided to the Justice Department syringes, needles, and gauze containing Rocket’s blood and evidence of steroids and DNA.

To this, Rocket’s lawyer Lanny Breuer responded by telling the media that McNamee “has changed his story repeatedly on this matter. He claims to love Roger Clemens. He says he modeled being a father on Roger Clemens. He said Roger treated him like family — but he now claims he kept blood, gauze and needles from Roger Clemens for seven years. It defies all sensibility. It is just not credible. Who in their right mind does such a thing?

The bolded part reminds me of Breuer’s statements from about a decade ago when he was the attorney for Bill Clinton and he and his cohorts were demonizing Monica Lewinsky for keeping the infamous semen-stained dress. So, it appears that Rocket’s got just the guy to handle this matter. But just as it defied all sensibility for McNamee to keep the gauze, it defied all sensibility for Lewinsky to keep the dress. Yet she did. And so, it appears, did McNamee.

But, despite what Breuer claims, McNamee hasn’t changed his story. He’s never changed his story on this matter. The one who has changed his story on this matter, time, after time, has been the Rocket. First he never received shots from McNamee, then he admits to B-12 shots. And he claimed he got no warning from McNamee about what the Mitchell Report would say, then he admits that his representatives met with McNamee days before the release of the report. He said he wouldn’t file a lawsuit against McNamee, then he filed a lawsuit against McNamee. Rocket claimed that George Mitchell only contacted him once, then it was proven that Mitchell tried to contact him on numerous occasions.

And for some reason, Rocket’s still letting Rusty Hardin speak to the media. “Find a prosecutor or a judge that would ever see this as evidence, all right? This is waste material. In fact, I think we’re going to file a complaint with the health department,” Hardin said. Yet knowing how ridiculous that statement was, Hardin refused to shut up: “McNamee really did us a great favor yesterday because it truly revealed what he’s out to do — and that’s to destroy Roger.”

First things first. If the train of evidence can be established, there isn’t a prosecutor or a judge in the world who would fail to see this as evidence, and Hardin’s got to know this. If he doesn’t, he really needs to go back to handling drunks. There are obvious chain of custody problems -- McNamee’s got to be able to prove how he came into possession of this material, how he stored it, and he’s got to be able to prove that it’s Rocket’s blood. But if he can establish the chain of evidence, and if it proves what McNamee says it does, it doesn’t matter what Rocket says, what Pettitte says, or what kind of sleazy person McNamee may, or may not be. If this chain is proven, then McNamee’s credibility doesn’t matter.

This leads me to all of the idiots I’ve heard calling into sports talk radio yesterday and today. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter why McNamee kept this evidence. It doesn’t matter how sleazy McNamee is. If McNamee has what he claims to have, if it can be proven that it’s Rocket’s blood on the needles and gauze and that traces of steroids or HGH can be found intermingled, then nothing else matters.

It doesn’t matter that he might not have any of this regarding Andy Pettitte because Pettitte has already confessed to using HGH. Pettitte said that McNamee is the one who injected him with the HGH.

It doesn’t matter if McNamee kept it for blackmail. It doesn’t matter. If the evidence is what the evidence says it is, then Rocket’s denials are worthless. Breuer’s character assassination is useless. Hardin’s ignorance of the law isn’t even damaging.

There’s an old saying from back when I was in law school: If you can’t argue the facts, you argue the law; if you can’t argue the law, you argue the facts; if you can’t argue the facts or the law, you go with emotion. That’s what Hardin has been doing since day one. It’s what Breuer is doing. They can’t argue the law, or the facts, so they trash McNamee. They question his credibility. When Pettitte helps McNamee’s credibility, they secretly tape phone calls and claim the call says that McNamee is lying. McNamee may, indeed, be the world’s worst human being. He may have been trying to blackmail Clemens. He may be a sick human being with psychological problem, but none of that matters. If the Justice Department can take the material provided by McNamee and use their tests to determine that it hasn’t been tampered with, then this is the conclusive evidence.

Rocket’s defenders have been screaming about the lack of evidence. And now that there’s evidence, they’re saying the evidence doesn’t matter, it’s only the character of McNamee that matters. All that matters now is that evidence. And if proves what McNamee says, his character doesn’t matter. McNamee’s character only matters if the evidence is inconclusive. And even then, there’s still a chance out there that Andy Pettitte is only going to completely blow Clemens out of the water because we still don’t know to what Pettitte testified.

I say this as one of Bill Clinton’s biggest supporters. I thought Whitewater was a useless investigation that proved absolutely nothing. I still can’t believe that lying about a blowjob was grounds for impeachment whereas lying about WMD in Iraq is perfectly acceptable. I was one of those who questioned whether the thing with Lewinsky really happened. I questioned her motives, called her nuts, and I couldn’t believe that any sane person would keep a semen-stained dress laying around. But she did, and the semen was Clinton’s. It didn’t matter why she kept, or what kind of person she was, the semen was what she said it was. It was Clinton’s.

So say what you will about McNamee. If it’s proven that those needles contain bits of Clemens’s blood intermingled with steroids and HGH, and if it’s proven that there was no tampering with that evidence, then the Rocket is cooked. Despite what Rusty Hardin’s ignorance of the law would have you believe.

Before I go, it should be noted that McNamee is supposed to be holding a press conference this afternoon, after he has met with the investigators. It should also be noted that Clemens is today having personal, one-on-one meetings with the Congressional reps before whom he will be testifying next week.

So, until then, or until the next bomb drops, I’m signing off of my Rocket coverage. – John Royal


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