Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

I know that I've written a lot about sports lately. And I know that some folks don't much care for sports-related posts here because I tend to hear from them. But there has been so much interesting stuff going on lately both on and off the field that I just can't help myself.

But this post is not so much about sports or baseball even though it involves New York Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens. It is not so much about steroids in sports because I think we are so beyond having the capacity to be shocked over the apparent truth that steroid use was abundant in Major League Baseball for about a 10 year stretch in the nineties. And it is not about that most complicated of endeavors, human relationships, even though the Mitchell Report caused both friends to testify about friends and former friends to rat each other out.

No, today's musings will be confined to this one question: Is Roger Clemens lying when he says that he never used illegal performance enhancing drugs? First let us examine the admittedly sorry record before us.

A shady character named Brian McNamee was Roger Clemens's personal trainer. He told the Mitchell Commission that he began injecting Clemens with both Winstrol and Androl-50 in 1999. He also stated during Clemens's early years in New York that he injected Clemens with Human Groth Hormone or HGH as well. He quit injecting the HGH in 2001 because Clemens didn't like being injected in the belly button which I can only surmise is how you deliver that particular vitamin.

McNamee also claims to have injected Yankee teammate Andy Petitte with steroids and more bizarrely, states that he injected Debbie Clemens, Roger's wife, with HGH as well so that she would appear more buff in a 2003 issue of Sports Illustrated in which she was to appear in a swimsuit.

As you might well imagine, Brian McNamee ain't exactly a Boy Scout. In 2001, he was investigated for date-rape after he was discovered in a hotel swimming pool having sex with a disoriented woman. She was later found to have near toxic levels of GHB in her drug stream. GHB is a anesthetic which has very limited legitimate medical uses. It is, however, widely used illegally by bodybuilders, clubgoers and date-rapists. A bottle of the stuff was found there by the pool.

To McNamee's doubtless endless relief, the woman's credibility turned out to be questionable after she lied to the cops about how she came to be at the hotel (It turns out that she was having an affair with one of the Yankees. After all, a baseball player screwing around on his wife is unheard of in the annals of sport.) and no charges were ever filed. The Yankees showed him the door. But he continued to work with Clemens and Petitte until 2007 when the Mitchell Report was issued and the Great Unpleasantness shook loose.

Andy Pettite corroborated McNamee's account to the Mitchell Commission. Debbie Clemens, who naturally has a website devoted to health and fitness issues ( ), confirmed in a written statement read to Congress that McNamee did provide her with HGH in 2003 but that she injected herself., a distnction that the Clemens family evidently regards as crucial to the arc of their narrative. Finally, McNamee's lawyer has produced pictures of syringes, vials and cotton swabs that he maintains are the works used by his client to inject Roger Clemens.

Okay. So what do we make of this dog's breakfast?

McNamee is a liar and a hustler. But liars and hustlers have been known to tell the truth. Especially when their asses are in a sling. Again, both Andy Pettite and Debbie Clemens have corroborated his story.

So the question becomes this: What possible incentive would Andy Petitte-who up until this mess was considered a stright arrow-have to dime out his friend and teammate? And if it is true that Clemens never used performance enhancing drugs, why on Earth would he blithely allow his wife to experiment with HGH? There is no suggestion that he opposed her decision to try Botox Squared. Indeed, the testimony is to the effect that the decision to quit using it was hers. The implication is certainly that he had a familiarity and comfort level with the issue for whatever reason. And why throw her admission out there anyway? Why didn't Debbie Clemens just join the party and call McNamee a liar? To fade the heat from Roger? That doesn't make any sense and actually made matters worse to my ears. They admit McNamee is telling the truth about this incident and nothing else? Which brings us to the larger point. Is it believable, given the foregoing, that Roger Clemens was the only person in this troika of friends and lovers that did NOT dabble in these drugs?

One last item. The pictures supplied by McNamee prove nothing. But if a reputable lab extracts Clemens's DNA from the materials that appeared in the pictures, Clemens is facing El Problemo Grande. Which makes the decison by Clemens's lawyers to allow him to testify twice under oath before Congress curious indeed. These guys aren't stupid. I'm no high-dollar criminal lawyer but I sure as hell wouldn't have let him do it.

So, it comes down to this, Gentle Reader. Who do you believe? Or to put it another way, who do you disbelieve less, Brian McNamee or Roger Clemens?

Let me know what you think.
BTW......Debbie Clemens looks good in a Speedo.

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