Yesterday we finally got something definitive out of the Clemens camp. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Clemens has filed a defamation lawsuit against his ex-trainer Brian McNamee. McNamee’s lawyers have already stated however that he will be filing a counter lawsuit against Clemens, claiming that his statements in a “60 Minutes” interview are “a total lie.” If nothing else this is a welcome change from the statements Clemens made immediately after the Mitchell report was published. If you don’t remember them he basically said he deserved better treatment since he was in the public eye for 25 years, but never refused to answer any direct questions.
There are so many questions here, many of which will never be answered. In that “60 Minutes” interview Clemens asked how he could possibly prove his innocence, and that is a very valid point. Without either a definitive positive drug test, or an admission of guilt from Clemens himself, this will probably never evolve from a “he said, she said” type of argument, but let’s take a look at a few key points.
In the lawsuit filed against McNamee Clemens’ lawyers alleged that McNamee never mentioned Clemens until he was pressured to do so by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella and IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, key members of the BALCO investigation.
“After this exchange, and for the first time in his life, McNamee stated that he had injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001,” the suit stated. “Following his recantation, McNamee has relayed that he magically went from a ‘target’ in a federal criminal drug investigation to a mere ‘witness,’ so long as he continued to ‘toe the line.’ ” The lawsuit doesn’t state where this information comes from, but if true, could be very helpful to Clemens’ case.
Clemens’ stated that the reason he refused to talk with George Mitchell was basically because that’s what everyone else was doing. He was told by his advisers not to talk with George Mitchell, but that he was never told what the allegations of the report were. He then stated that had he known what the allegations were, he would’ve been the first to talk with Mitchell to refute the claims. The real question though is why didn’t he know what the allegations were? If Mitchell knew that he was going to accuse Clemens of using steroids, wouldn’t he tell him as much? Now there’s a couple of different ways to look at this, but I’m inclined to believe that Clemens’ never believed he would be targeted, and thus never took the time to make sure he wasn’t mentioned.
Finally, also from the “60 Minutes” interview, Clemens’ stated that he would consent to a lie detector test, claiming that he doesn’t know if they are good or bad. Lie detector tests are of course not definitively accurate, evidenced by the fact that they are inadmissible in court, but this is a big gesture by Clemens. It will probably never happen, but the fact that he says he is willing to take one is just another piece of evidence in favor of Clemens.
Finally, I’d just like to add that while steroids can help a hitter get more power, there is nowhere near as direct of a correlation to pitcher’s abilities. The act of throwing a baseball with high velocity is so much more about a person’s ability to make every piece of their body work in sequence than it is about pure strength that it makes far less sense for pitchers to try and use steroids. That of course doesn’t mean that Clemens, or any other pitcher, never took steroids, just that the effects of steroids are less pronounced for pitchers.
Having said all that, since this is a civil suit it, and not a criminal case, the rule of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” does not apply here. The burden of proof rule in a civil case is a “preponderance of evidence” or in more plain terms, if the jury believes there is a more than 50% chance that the defendant was negligent, the plaintiff wins. Who knows how this will all turn out, but as much as I personally dislike Roger Clemens, I find it hard to believe that he used steroids from at least 1998-2001, if not longer, so count me as one supporter of the lawsuit.
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