Quick Take: Clemens and McNamee

It’s over, the Congressional hearings about performance enhancing drugs in baseball. And, with it come more interesting questions rather than answers.  Neither Clemens nor McNamee came off as better people, but Clemens seemed to have more to lose than McNamee.  Moreover, Clemens didn’t acquit himself all that well,  stumbling to find the right words and often going into long preferences before answering the question.  In one instance, Clemens had to mention that he proudly wore the USA uniform in the World Baseball Classic in 2006.  What that has to do with him taking PHDs, nobody really knows.

Shame on many members of the House Committee on Government Oversight.  Many of the members seemed to have an agenda and that was to smear McNamee as much as possible.  It appeared that they were more concerned with taking shots at the former trainer rather than ask Roger Clemens the serious questions.  McNamee did, however, keep his cool, and in the end chairman Henry Waxman, D, California apologized to McNamee for the way he was treated by some of the committee members.

For the record, nothing changed.  Clemens continued to deny ever using PHDs while McNamee continued to insist that he did.   Clemens cannot prove this and McNamee can only refer to former Yankees Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettitte, both of whom said used PHDs under McNamee’s watch.  No matter what side you;re on, that’s a clear advantage to McNamee’s case.

We did find out two lies/mistruths about Clemens.  One, is that wife Debbie was injected with HGH by McNamee, although Roger Clemens denies knowing about it until told by Debbie.  If your wife was going to take an HGH shot, wouldn’t you want to know about it? 

We also found out that Clemens was likely at the now famous Jose Canseco Barbecue Extravanganza.  Both Clemens and Canseco denied this last week, but today, not only was Clemens there, but so was his former nanny, his wife and his children with the kids spending the night at Casa Canseco.  Clemens was also accused of contacting the former nanny before she was contacted by members of the committee.  That is clear obstruction.

Brian McNamee has a lot of character flaws, but for the most part, when asked a question, he answered quickly and promptly and more importantly, always maintained that he did inject Clemens with PHDs.

Clemens is in for a long road ahead of him.  Clearly, he is employing the Pete Rose Defense and likely, will continue to deny, continue to attack his former trainer and friend and continue to fight for his name.  Pete Rose did this for 15 years.  For 15 years, he denied, attacked John Doud and his report, attacked Paul Janssen, his one time friend and intermediary for placing bets.  In the end, Rose admitted what everybody believed:  that he did bet on baseball.

Knowing this, Clemens knows that in order to preserve his legacy and get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he has to deny, deny, and deny some more.  His hope is that he can deny it long enough to be voted into baseball’s shrine.  It probably won’t work.  It won’t work for him, for Barry Bonds, for Mark McGwire and for others who are suspected of using PHDs to put up big numbers in the national pasttime. 

People will argue that Congress wasted its time and our money by conducting these hearings.  I could not disagree more with that.  Americans work hard, and most of us don’t love our jobs.  When work is done, we look for an outlet, something that provides a bit of escape.  For many, sports provides this.  Sure, we take sports a little too seriously, but cheating—whether it’s a crooked NBA referee,  a Kelvin Sampson, a Bill Belichick or an Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Pete Rose and perhaps Roger Clemens—rips into the integrity of the escape that we seek.

Simply, this cannot be tolerated and Congress’s job is to make sure sports, like the stock market, is on the up-and-up.

John Furgele


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