Clemens will try to drag Pettite into the mud....
Is it me? I DID NOT WANT THIS BUM on the Yankees from day 1. Bad decisions seem to linger for a long time....
This isn't about whether you think the United States Congress
should be in the business of essentially prosecuting baseball players for using baseball drugs. That is just a way to change the subject. No, this is only about whether or not you think Roger Clemens
lied to Congress one day in February of 2008.
And ultimately it is about whether you think Clemens - if he did lie up and down - ought to be able to get away with that.
It was the President before this one, George W. Bush
- whose father Clemens calls a good old Texas
pal - who essentially told baseball to clean up its act in the area of performance-enhancing drugs. Told baseball that if it couldn't do that, he would. Like he was going to bring baseball back dead or alive.
It took awhile because, let's face facts, these things always do in baseball. But out of all that came Sen. George Mitchell
's report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Then Roger Clemens' name was in there, and in lights, as a user. Clemens told everybody it was a lie, told that to Mike Wallace
and every microphone in sight and finally to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Now that same government has indicted him because it says he's the liar.
"At the start," a lawyer familiar with both sides of this case said the other day, "Roger's main defense was, 'do you think I would be that stupid to take drugs?' We now know that may have been a rhetorical question."
The lawyer continued: "In New York there is the well-known story of a defense attorney who asked a tough detective if he really expected the jury to believe his client would do something so stupid. The detective responded, 'I never say I caught the smart ones.'"
, who rode right along with Clemens to this moment, to this six-count indictment against his client, says that Clemens has been looking forward to this moment all along. Sure he is. Who wouldn't want to be indicted on perjury and obstruction and face jail time? Rusty Hardin, who doesn't know when to shut up the way his client doesn't - maybe it wasn't just destiny that brought them together - makes it sound like more fun for the two of them than a trip to Six Flags
"The most interesting aspect of this," the same lawyer said, "is that Rocket has paid millions of dollars in fees to attorneys and public relations specialists to get himself indicted by the federal government. And, get this, now he says he's 'happy.' "
Suddenly there is the notion, floated by friends of Roger, that the government may have overstepped its bounds by going after him this way. As if the hearings run by Henry Waxman
and Tom Davis
were some kind of perjury trap. As if they tricked Clemens into testifying. Really? Clemens did everything except pay them to let him testify even after being told that he didn't have to.
It wasn't enough that he had called out his former trainer, Brian McNamee
, as a liar, and had even sued McNamee for defamation. Oh no, he wanted his day in Congress, to let Congress decide who was telling the truth: Clemens, or McNamee and Andy Pettitte
. You see by these indictments who the government believed on this one.
From the start, the insane strategy of Clemens' agents and lawyers and P.R. geniuses was to put him in front of as many microphones as possible, tell his story as often as possible, even open himself up to all possible scrutiny with a defamation suit against McNamee. Keep telling the version of things he finally told in Room 2154 of the Rayburn Building
, February, 2008, and could get him about 18 months of jail time when this is all over.
Nobody ever slept better at night knowing Martha Stewart
was doing time. Nobody ever felt that way about the sprinter Marion Jones
. But they both found out that if you lie to the federal government, it comes after you.
Maybe everything Clemens did was informed by Mark McGwire
's appearance in front of Congress in 2005, when he wouldn't admit to using steroids - pleaded what my friend Bob Ryan
has always called the "Fourth-and-a-Half Amendment - and ruined his chances at the Hall of Fame
But Clemens should have paid attention to Jason Giambi
, who apologized for something or other and admitted to nothing after BALCO
and got by with that. He should have paid attention to Pettitte, who might ultimately do as much damage to Clemens as McNamee, who got by with a story about using HGH only a couple of times and only to be a good teammate.
"Roger's lawyer says can't wait for the trial," the lawyer I talked to said. "Maybe (Hardin) didn't get his whole fee upfront."
If Clemens is the one who has been telling the truth all along, if McNamee is the liar and Pettitte is the one who misremembered a conversation about human growth hormone, Clemens has nothing to worry about. And what seems to be a train-wreck strategy will have worked like a charm for him.
Clemens will be the one who wants to misremember everything he said and did, everything his lawyers and agents let him do, from the time he called his first press conference after the Mitchell Report.