January 8, 2008, - 1:22 pm
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.
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?
Tags: attorney, baseball, Brian McNamee, Debbie Schlussel Did, Hall of Fame, Major, Major League Baseball, media appearances, Mike Wallace, Neil Best, Newsday, personal trainer, player, Roger Clemens, taped telephone conversation