Friday, August 20, 2010

Clemens Must Take on Feds With No Bullpen Help

Roger Clemens is going have to work out of this jam all by himself.

He can't be pulled for a reliever. And he can't just rear back and let loose with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball and try to blow the Feds away.

It's going to take some finesse and nibbling around the corners. He needs to induce a harmless ground ball, that his lawyers can turn into an inning-ending double play.

Clemens is under Federal indictment. It's the one thing you don't want to be under, other than Refrigerator Perry.

The Feds say Clemens lied with his pants on fire back in 2008 when he testified before Congress, saying that he no way, no how, took performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) as a big league pitcher.

They have six counts against Clemens, the Feds do. They say that Clemens, no less than 15 times, made knowingly false statements while under oath on Capitol Hill.

A Federal indictment ought to make the one under indictment soil his or her briefs. It's a big deal, because lengthy prison time could be in the offing. And indictments aren't brought lightly; usually the Feds feel they have a pretty good case.

It's one thing to have a feeling that someone is lying to Congress. It's quite another for that feeling to become an actual indictment. The Federal government usually only indicts when it thinks it can win, and win convincingly.

Clemens is still sticking to his story. He maintains that it's not he who is lying, but rather his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who told Congress at the same time that Clemens was testifying that McNamee injected Clemens more than a dozen times with steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) between 1998 and 2001.

McNamee supposedly has syringes, vials, and other physical evidence---including even some of Clemens's DNA---to support his claims.

Clemens and McNamee have since sued each other for defamation, with Clemens's claims being essentially dismissed by federal courts. McNamee has a suit pending in federal court in New York.

Former Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the top Republican on the House panel at the time of Clemens' testimony, called it "a self-inflicted wound."

"Clemens was not under subpoena. He came voluntarily," Davis said. "And I sat there in the office with [committee chairman] Henry Waxman and said, 'Whatever you do, don't lie.' "

Apparently, Clemens didn't take that advice to heart. Now he has the bases juiced (so to speak) and no one warming up in the bullpen.

I believe that Clemens lied. The indictment speaks volumes, and why would McNamee lie, knowing the repercussions if he was proven to be making up tall tales?

All that, plus the physical evidence that McNamee says he has---which he kept for some 10 years, for just such an occasion as this one.

For what it's worth, Clemens's old teammates are standing by him, including Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and steroid user extraordinaire Jose Canseco.

Current Yankee Lance Berkman, a teammates of Clemens's in Houston, said, "Whatever you want to say about the guy, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, legacy-wise, I guess that's up to---I mean, 200 years from now, who cares?

"But in the short term, I guess, he may have some things to address," Berkman conceded.

That's one of the biggest understatements of the year.

Clemens is back on the mound, staring in at a federal indictment that stands menacingly at the plate. And the Feds don't strike out that much when it comes to this kind of thing.

I have a feeling that Clemens is going to be taken deep.