Monday, January 07, 2008

Are you interested in this Clemens thing? 

I am a Red Sox fan as anyone who knows me knows, and despite becoming a Blue Jay and a Yankee I follow Roger Clemens with a great deal of interest; if he isn't pitching against the Red Sox I still root for him. So the 60 Minutes interview last night was more interesting to me than anything else on TV (yes, even the Giants game.) Clemens followed this up by going on the offensive today, filing a lawsuit against Brian McNamee. The Smoking Gun has a copy of the petition online. In it Clemens claims McNamee only named Clemens as a user of steroids under threat of federal investigators claiming they had enough to prosecute McNamee. McNamee's lawyers, Earl Ward and Richard Emery, in an interview in the New York Daily News over the weekend, say that he was not a target of the investigation but felt compelled to tell the truth to investigators, who then invited him to speak to the Mitchell Commission.

DN: Are you comfortable with the arrangement between the government and baseball and the fact that the government came after McNamee in the first place?
WARD: No, we're not comfortable with it. But we were in a position where we were asked to provide truthful information and we provided that information to the government. The government then requested that we speak with Sen. Mitchell. Although the investigation was a private investigation, we felt compelled to provide the same information to Sen. Mitchell.
EMERY: If the government asks, you listen....
DN: How did that play out? Did the government say, "We'll come after you and prosecute you, if you don't talk?"
WARD: No. McNamee was obligated to cooperate with the federal government because they called him in. They indicated he was not a target of the investigation, but that he had to provide truthful information to them, or he could be charged with lying to federal investigators. So he provided truthful information to them. During the course of his cooperation with them, they requested that he speak to Sen. Mitchell, and he had no problems.
DN: The government came first, then Mitchell?
WARD: Right...They had information that he was involved, because they had checks from Brian to Radomski.
EMERY: They had leverage on him.

So if they had leverage on him, isn't he compelled? Rocket believes so based on the quote he has on point 27 of the petition (starts here).

McNamee's lawyers say they will counter-sue, and what they are hoping for is for Clemens to get himself in hot water with the Congressional testimony he is now obliged to provide. Taking the Fifth, or alternatively lying after being granted immunity by Congress, is what they are angling for. I have no idea why Harry Waxman would do this (Gary Huckabay thinks even less of the move than I do), but so far Clemens is saying the right thing -- will testify, needs no immunity, will not take the Fifth. For all our sakes, I hope he carries through with this. But on an ESPN SportsNation poll, Roger is down to McNamee on believability by a 2-1 margin. Perhaps because Clemens seems spoiled -- Rob Neyer points out (in a blog post for ESPN Insider, subscriber link) sure would help if he'd learned at some point to come across as something other than a spoiled, petulant millionaire who thinks he did something for baseball. Rather than the other way around.
Pat Jordan, whose book A False Spring is one of the most poignant baseball stories I've read, sounds off on Clemens. Until he can make a convincing case, it appears this is how it will go for Clemens from here on.


UPDATE (9pm): ESPN has posted the audio of the tape recording, which Clemens played for the media.

Does McNamee refer to himself in the third person? And does he know he's being recorded? Hearing that, the story Jordan tells about the relationship between Clemens and McNamee sounds more credible.