January 8, 2008, - 1:22 pm

Do You Believe Roger Clemens?

By Debbie Schlussel
Did you see Roger Clemens’ interview with Mike Wallace on Sunday Night’s “60 Minutes”? Read/Watch it here.
There are lots of takes on Clemens and his media appearances over the last few days, including this interesting one from Newsday’s Neil Best.
Here’s my take. I watched the “60 Minutes” interview with interest, as I follow sports and have been noting the immediate and delayed reaction to last year’s release of the Mitchell Report on Major League Baseball players’ alleged use of the illicit steroids and human growth hormones. You’ll recall my commentary on this site, just prior to the release of the report.
As you know, Clemens is named in the report. But the “evidence” against him–as with many others “fingered” in the report–comes from one person, Brian McNamee, a personal trainer who dealt in the illegal substances and named names to the feds in exchange for staying out of jail. That’s a case of he said, he said.

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As I watched the Clemens interview with Wallace, I thought he seemed very credible. He didn’t wince or hesitate with his answers, and there was an air of sincerity that enveloped his entire side of the interview. The only part I didn’t believe was when he said he didn’t care about getting into the Hall of Fame. Every pro baseball player dreams of that.
That said, Clemens said he won’t return to baseball. One wonders why not. Is it a case of: without steroids, Clemens can’t have the big years he’s had even of late as a baseball senior citizen? On the other hand, he’s 45–old fogiedom in baseball as in any other big league professional sport.
So did he or didn’t he? I don’t really care because the marketplace has decided it doesn’t care. And in baseball, it is the ultimate arbiter.
Clemens decision to sue the personal trainer who named him, McNamee, is a curious one. It is, at once, clever and stupid.
A defamation suit, as with any other civil suit, subjects both sides to discovery and deposition. Clemens must be that sure there is nothing on him that he is willing to expose himself to deposition. On the other hand, McNamee, fighting off the feds and with a destroyed reputation in Major League Baseball, is probably unemployed and lacking in funds to hire an attorney who will agressively respond to the suit and depose Clemens. Clemens may even win the suit against McNamee in a default judgment.
It’s doubtful the suit will expose anything or clear Clemens’ name with any finality. It will likely be a continuation of he said, he said, if anything.
And the taped telephone conversation Clemens released yesterday is more of that. To me, it doesn’t definitively answer any questions about anything. While Clemens tells McNamee to “tell the truth,” he doesn’t tell him on the tape to “tell them that you know I didn’t use steroids.” And when McNamee says “I’ll go to jail” for Clemens, that implies guilt more than non-guilt for Clemens.
Still, Clemens was very convincing in the Mike Wallace interview.
What do you think? Did Clemens use steroids? Do you care? Or, as I contend, it does not? And do you think the suit and the phone tape are dispositive of anything?

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15 Responses

Not that this is an important issue, but what the heck, here is my two cents. Clemens was named only to get to Bonds without a discrimination lawsuit.
What that, who really cares, Baseball has about as much integrity as the NFL.
More importantly Debbie, did you see yesterday that Michael Vick was transferred from prison to another prison/rehab deal to knock 12 month off his sentence?

West Dearbornistan on January 8, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Hi Debbie…. Happy New Year. As opposed to all the other “baseball stars” in MLB, the Rocket jumped right on the litigation train. I think he’s telling the truth. And, if he used anything in 1991 which is more than 15 years ago, was it actually illegal at that time? If I am correct here and people wish to prosecute him in the court of public opinion, I guess they have to go after any old geezer still alive out there who was drinking during prohibition. By the way, isn’t there some sort of statute of limitations on something like this?

FreeAmerican on January 8, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Debbie said, “Clemens was very convincing in the Mike Wallace interview.”
Convincing of what…that he is a jerk and a liar! Come on!

Jim Phelan on January 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm

My suspicion is that he did use steroids; he’s already admitted using other things. He may feel that he can circumvent discovery in the lawsuit. My understanding is that it is common in litigation for the various parties to challenge specific discovery requests as burdensome, irrelevant, etc., or to say certain documents no longer exist after so many years, etc. etc., and he may have concluded he can withstand discovery. Of course this is just a guess. I hope he didn’t use steroids. the influence seeps down; after the Barry Bonds fiasco I saw a bulky trainer at my gym start wearing a Barry Bonds jacket. I don’t think we need lots of kids using steroids.

c f on January 8, 2008 at 4:15 pm

At this point I believe Clemens is telling the truth.
McNamee naming names in exchange for staying out of jail is just fishy. This is always fishy in any investigation.
I’m willing to bet that McNamee doesn’t remember all the people he gave steroids to, but probably remembers everyone he gave something to. And I can’t imagine that everyone McNamee treated recieved steroids.
So for now I believe Clemens is telling the truth.

Lawrence on January 8, 2008 at 4:28 pm

While I missed the 60 Minutes interview (except for the snippets you hear replayed on other shows), I did hear the tape recording of the phone call to McNamee.
Clemens was notorious for his “bullying” and fearlessness as he would throw with such heat and back players right off the plate (unless they’s stand there and get hit with the ball). He was truly intimidating.
The other thing Clemens is known for is his second to none work ethic. The only way he could have pitched so long at the 100 MPH clip is because of the extra work out time he put himself through.
Now I have to factor in the “roids” and hmmmm. I really didn’t want to think about it–but I was inclined to believe Clemens against one accuser.
I was a big Clemens fan–but my opinion of him is greatly destroyed. After what I heard on that tape recording–yes on both ends of the phone–he is lying his a– off. I hate a wiggling game player and that is how I will see Clemens from now on. He is still one the greatest pitchers ever to pitch–but this is a real disappointment.

BB on January 8, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I would give him or *any pitcher* the benefit of the doubt on steroids (but not hgh), because mass building and arm health do not mix for pitchers.
Professional pitchers are very cautious about strength training the arm, because imbalances between the various muscle groups can lead to serious injury. They do use weights for legs (Nolan Ryan swore by out), and some arms, but very carefully on the arms. Pitching involves using the arm in a whip like motion, and adding bulk does not particularly help much and in fact risks injury to the shoulder rotator cuff. Clemens could not not know about this, and would probably avoid steroids…except possibly to enhance recovery from an injury. Long dangling arms like Randy Johnson are ideal. I’m not saying its impossible he used them, but I just think most pitchers would not take the risk.
Any other position however, the boost in hitting power is definitely the attraction of steroids, despite Bonds lame and false excuses that strength is not a component of hitting for power. It is also a factor in bat speed, which can make the difference between catching up to a fastball, and having an extra fraction of a second to wait on a curve. So for all you who say bonds was still “naturally” responsible for at least making contact, that’s false too.
So I doubt Clemens did, and would be surprised to hear about any successful pitcher who did. Hgh is another story all together, and did an aging player rely on it to slow his general physical decline? Maybe.

melchloboo on January 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Of course Clemens is lying. First off I saw him on tape when he was on the Red Sox in 1986 and when he was on the Yankees and his neck and upper body got way too big and bulky. He looked as if he was a wrestler. Secondly McNamee named Clemens’ bobo Andy Pettite as using HGH and Pettite admitted that that was so. Why lie about Clemens and not Pettite? Third, remember the Mike Piazza bat incident in the World Series sof 2002? If that was not a case of ‘roid rage I donĂ­t know what is.
Mike Wallace is a friend of Clemens’ and Clemens requested him. Wallace asked him soft ball questions (imagine if Wallace was interviewing an Israeli government official how tough he would be?).

Ripper on January 8, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Different steroids produce different results. Steroids fall into a few catagories-strength, mass, fat burning. People that I’ve known who have taken steroids have had such a profound changes happen in their bodies. This happens over the course of a few weeks, not years. I’ve never known anyone to have experienced increased reaction times from steroid use.
I don’t have a bias against steroids because the health risks are well documented. If a guy or gal want to do several cycles to get ready for a bodybuilding show who cares!!
I think that this whole story needs to be filed under who cares!

newinnewark on January 8, 2008 at 6:45 pm

This guy just keeps making it worse. I am stunned by the stupidity of his actions to date.
I grew up in Austin, and attended UT while Clemens was there. I grew up on Gus-ball at Disch-Falk Field, Texas-Fight at Memorial Stadium; hell my bedspread was Burnt Orange; so it pains me to say that I am extremely disappointed in ‘roid’ Roger.
Even if he didn’t do it, I don’t believe him anymore.
When someone accuses you of not only cheating in your chosen profession (being un-professional) and of breaking the law; your response if innocent is: “F*** you, mother *****. I am on my way to beat you senseless you lying piece of ****.” The guilty respond with a week of silence followed by contrived phone calls, and phony softball interviews.
Hey 60 Minutes why not treat Clemens as you would a Republican?
For those who think that pitchers don’t use steroids, you are wrong. Steroids do more than just build muscle. It repairs muscle more quickly and stops wastage when ill; it helps with inflammation; and some Respiratory illnesses. I know, I have Asthma and used a steroid inhaler when I was growing up. (and yes I did play sports, specifically football)

Mark L. Jackson on January 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Oh, yea while I am at it.
What kind of low-life does not attend the funeral of the son of his college coach, who MADE his career? Then stupidly mention it.
Unreal. That did it for me, BTW.
Roger’s BS that it’s about his health and not about the “Hall” is bunk. Clemens is just another self-absorbed celebrity.
Disgusting.

Mark L. Jackson on January 8, 2008 at 6:56 pm

It seems there is a second tape floating around. McNamee’s Attorneys are demanding it be relased. Something tells me, it is not flattering to Clemens.

Mark L. Jackson on January 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Debby,
I gotta tell you, I have gone back and forth on this issue as to whether Clemens did or did not use performance enhancing drugs. After I saw the interview I swayed a little towards perhaps he did not, after the tped phone conversation, I swayed back.
My take is no one will ever know and I will never feel reasonably certain that he did or did not. The thing about Roger Clemens is even coming out of Texas, he was a big boned sort of wide guy, so it’s real hard for me to say conclusively that he “looks the part”, because I frankly can’t tell…all us 45 year olds get fat and our faces get wider. That said and given this faulty conclusion, he still remains a first ballot Hall of Famer to me. One of the most dominant pitchers of the modern age.
I am willing to give him the beneifit of the doubt because he has done some things that do raise some doubt about the validity of the allegations. As a Special Agent with over 25 yrs of law enofrcement experience, I have handled informants, especially those under federal indictment (or facing it), I can tell you that when you put these guys on the stand they are not generally good witnesses, in fact the perception of them before they even get to the stand is somewhat tainted.
Another aspect of this is that is often not addressed in the media craze to defame another athlete is the perception of Brian McNamee. McNamme is a common “stoolie” who was singularly responsible for bringing these steroids/HGH into the baseball clubhouse, in fact two of them according to his proclamations (Toronto & New York). I am a big believer that if you are a criminal facilitator and you bring drugs into the clubhouse for profit, then you own the responsibility that comes with it. So let’s assume that Clemens did use the stuff for a while, morally speaking (forget that Clemens is a superstar and a public figure for a moment), who is the more morally culpable, the guy who brings drugs into the clubhouse for profit and takes the cash or the athlete who becomes tempted at the chance to enhance his performance and longevity, AND the stuff is waved in his face…food for thought huh ?

DaKnocker on January 10, 2008 at 11:39 am

How will his pending lawsuit affect his testimony to Congress? Will he decline to answer questions that may be related to this lawsuit?

Paul on January 11, 2008 at 11:31 am

The 60 Minutes interview convinced me beyond any reasonable doubt. GUILTY as charged! I can assure you that just like Rafael Palmeiro, another Texan who shook his finger in the face of the nation and denied using the juice, Clemens is a liar. Both “playas” doth protest too much!
Clemens may not have used “roids” daily. But just as sure as he was injected with B12 and lidocaine, Clemens was on the receiving end of steroid injections. He used them to promote and speed healing so he could collect another 10 million dollar check for a couple of months work.
The fact that he used steroids does not really bother me. I could care less about major league baseball and its bogus records. MLB did nothing to stop steroid abuse and in fact MLB promoted the McQuire/Sosa home run race to win back fans after another prolonged player’s strike. The majority of MLB players were on the juice back then and everyone in baseball, including the Commissioner were aware of it.
The “snitch” in this case has every reason to tell the truth and absolutely no reason to lie about Clemens. Clemens is pissed that his buddy and personal trainer violated the locker room code of silence. Most of the guys in the major league locker rooms have secrets they want kept. Ho’s and “roids” are at the top of their dirty secret list. The MLB owners knew “roids” gave MLB the economic boost that saved the financial day.
Steroid use was to the MLB’s economy what undocumented workers were to the growth of the U.S. economy. Washington politicians decided a long time ago that cheap labor from south of the border was good for the U.S. GDP. Just as you can’t go back and erase those tainted MLB records today, ICE or any other government bureaucracy can’t make 20 million illegal immigrants disappear either. Short term fixes for long term problems seem to be the only solutions we are willing to accept in the 21st century.

ParaLyzer on January 11, 2008 at 10:34 pm

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