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Steroids, Baseball and Roger Clemens: Rocket and Brian McNamee Appear Before Congress Today

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Baseball Festivus is upon us, and soon the Airing of the Grievances will begin. True, without the presence of Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Kirk Radomski, there may be less grievances to air, but what fun we’re about to have.

So that you’ll be a little better prepared for what is about to happen, let me give you a brief primer on what is going on.

This whole thing actually dates back to the release of Jose Canseco’s book Juiced, in which Canseco admitted to steroid use and named several teammates as fellow users. Congress, which has some regulatory control over baseball due to several of the stupidest Supreme Court opinions ever written – opinions that make even Bush v. Gore sound well-reasoned. Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were called before Congress. Palmeiro shook his finger and said Canseco lied. Sammy Sosa forgot how to speak English. McGwire refused to talk about the past because he wanted only to focus on the future, and Schilling, who had claimed in earlier interviews that baseball had a huge steroid problem, recanted those claims.

Later that day, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and player union head Don Fehr appeared and were subjected to the reading of the riot act. Selig got his buddy, a member of the Boston Red Sox board of directors and a former U.S. Senator, George Mitchell, to conduct an investigation into the use of steroids and HGH in baseball.

Also during this time, sluggers Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi were caught up in the Federal investigation of BALCO, in which Sheffield and Giambi admitted to steroid use and Barry Bonds admitted to using the Clear and the Cream.

Time passes. Many events occur. And we come to this past December, when George Mitchell releases his report, which includes the names of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

Clemens and Pettitte are named by Brian McNamee, their former personal trainer. Clemens denies the allegations. Pettitte admits to using HGH. Clemens hires an attorney. Said attorney makes a fool of himself and Clemens time after time after time after time. Congress calls Clemens, Pettitte and McNamee to provide testimony under oath. Clemens, Pettitte and McNamee meet with investigators and tell stories. Clemens then meets with several lawmakers.

Now comes the hearing.

I’m not sure of exactly everything that will happen today. I’m sure Clemens and McNamee, or their attorneys, will give opening statements. I’m sure the Congressmen will ask questions – often in the form of a long statement – and I’m sure Clemens and McNamee will contradict each other and call each other liars.

The word on the street – or rather, the New York Times – is that Clemens will be confronted with the affidavit of one Andy Pettitte which apparently says things about Rocket that Pettitte doesn’t want to say while sitting at the same table. The Times quotes one of the investigating attorneys as saying, “Andy said enough to really hurt Roger.” They also quote another attorney saying,“The committee is not messing around and has other damaging evidence against Roger.” Evidence that didn’t come from McNamee, Pettitte or the Mitchell Report.

It’s not quite known exactly what Pettitte stated last week, or what’s in his affidavit. Committee member Tom Davis supposedly told Newsday Monday night that Pettitte’s statements substantially backed the account of McNamee. But yesterday, Davis attempted to back away from his statements by saying they were misrepresented, though he didn’t bother to tell anyone what it was that Newsday got wrong. Newsday is still reporting that Pettitte is backing up McNamee’s claim that Pettitte asked him why wasn’t getting the same stuff as Clemens. And the Associated Press is reporting that Pettitte states in his affidavit that Clemens talked about using HGH in either 1999 or 2000.

The Times states that the Pettitte affidavit was created after last week’s deposition, and that it was generated in lieu of Pettitte attending the hearing. Committee Chairman Henry Waxman will supposedly read the affidavit to Clemens and ask Clemens to respond to Pettitte’s statements.

And Clemens, who one member of the committee called a very charming man, has met with over half of the panel as part of his attempt to muddy the waters. Which actually leads me to express gratitude to a Republican (I’ve got friends falling out of their seats as they read this), Indiana Congressman Mark Souder, who refused to meet with Clemens, stating that Clemens is “wandering around the Hill like it’s a campaign. It’s unseemly.”

A friend has asked me why I believe McNamee and not Roger Clemens. The answer lies in Occam’s Razor, which essentially states that, with all things being equal, the simplest solution is the best. And in this case, the simplest solution is that McNamee is telling the truth.

Though he doesn’t address it in these terms, Jon Heyman of SI.com details why McNamee’s story is true if Occam’s Razor is applied. And I’ll link you that article. But in essence, what Clemens and Rusty Hardin want you to believe is that Brian McNamee told the truth about Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, but for some reason felt the need to lie about Roger Clemens. And they expect you to believe that Brian McNamee is the slime of the earth who committed a rape, then lied about it to the police, yet they ask you not to question the fact that Clemens continued to employee McNamee and take him into his family for nearly six years after that. They ask you to believe that Jose Canseco is telling the truth and that Clemens did not attend a party of Canseco’s in which Clemens discussed steroids, yet ask you to ignore Canseco’s book in which Canseco talks about Clemens talking about steroids.

(Speaking of Canseco, I really, really wouldn’t, if I were Hardin, go staking my client’s case on Jose Canseco. Sure, his new affidavit says he never witnessed Clemens take steroids or HGH, but he’s suddenly claiming Clemens never discussed the matter with him. But his book was very clear about Clemens continuously discussing the subject. And I sure wouldn’t want to be putting Canseco under oath, because I’m not sure Hardin would want to hear how Canseco explains the whole Magglio Ordonez blackmail attempt. Canseco’s many varied stories on the subject of steroids makes Roger Clemens’s various lies look like nothing. And Rusty, Congressional investigators don’t seem to really care about what Canseco has to say about the whole party thing. Not that I blame them. Not when it appears that Andy Pettitte is the so-called witness for the prosecution.)

Clemens and Hardin claim that McNamee has changed his story, thus he can’t be trusted, yet they ask you to ignore the numerous changes in Clemens’s story. They ask you to forget that Brian McNamee risks a jail sentence if he is caught lying.

I could go on, but I think you see my point. Brian McNamee has no reason to lie. In fact, he’s got every incentive to tell the truth. He faces a jail sentence for distribution of steroids and HGH. His cooperation with the Feds and George Mitchell can help to reduce his sentence. Thus, the simplest solution is that Brian McNamee is telling the truth.

Tell the truth, or go to jail. That’s pretty simple to me. Occam’s Razor.

I doubt we will get all of the answers today. I doubt that we’ll see Roger Clemens screaming about not being able to handle the truth.

But having seen Rocket try to kill Mike Piazza for having the nerve to hit a home run or two, if I were McNamee, McNamee’s attorneys, or any person asking questions, I’d make damn sure I was wearing a batting helmet. – John Royal

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