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Did Andy Pettite Finger Roger Clemens ?

by @ 8:00 am on February 12, 2008. Filed under Baseball, Mitchell Report, Roger Clemens, Sports

That’s one question being asked now that Pettite has been dropped from the witness list for tomorrow’s Congressional hearing on baseball and steroids:

WASHINGTON — Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee will face off at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, without any testimony from two other ballplayers or a steroids distributor who had also been scheduled to testify, the committee announced Monday night.

(…)

Dropped from the witness list were Andy Pettitte, Clemens’s longtime friend, former teammate and training partner; Chuck Knoblauch, a former major league infielder and outfielder; and Kirk Radomski, a former clubhouse attendant and drug distributor who became an informant for federal investigators and the Mitchell report.

Pettitte’s recusal came amid growing indications that he made statements that linked Clemens with steroids or H.G.H., or both, in his deposition to the committee on Feb. 4. A congressional staff member and several other people familiar with the case said that Pettitte did not want to have to testify publicly, on national television, and perhaps be forced to reiterate statements that would not be in Clemens’s interest. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.

Of course none of us knows what Pettite said but, as one sportswriter said, it’s further indication that Clemens is either innocent or an idiot:

The natural reaction is to say Clemens might be innocent because he’s acting innocent – forcing all the cards on the table like he has nothing to hide. It’s everything we haven’t seen out of baseball players, who usually just complain how unfair the accusations are and do nothing.

This isn’t Mark McGwire refusing to talk about the past and then hiding out in a gated community in California. This isn’t Barry Bonds, defiant in some circles and silent in others.

But we also know that perjury is a slow-forming crime, a witness so backed into a corner, so concerned about the damage the truth can bring, that he just continues to lie even as the risks grow greater.

It is what we saw out of sprinter Marion Jones, who loudly and boldly proclaimed her innocence until she was broke, humiliated and en route to six months in the federal clink.

We also know McNamee has been equally aggressive, that he’s a former cop who had little to gain by risking prison time for lying, and that his stories are so detailed or over the top they don’t sound like lies (you don’t just bring Clemens’ wife into it out of nowhere). We also know he told the truth about Clemens’ friend Andy Pettitte taking HGH.

The smart play for Clemens, assuming he is guilty, might have been to do what Pettitte did – give an admission with qualifiers that will be accepted and excused by most.

But Clemens may not be capable of such clear thinking, no matter how carefully his high-powered legal and public relations team explained the consequences to him.

Or, indeed, he may be innocent.

I’m beginning to think that the idiot explanation is the one we’ll find out is true, and that Clemens may have blustered himself into a perjury trap, which would be disappointing to say the least.

And, if only to make this situation more bizarre, the very men who may well decide Clemens’ fate are fawning over him for autographs and pictures:

Days before they were scheduled to ask probing questions of Roger Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee, trying to get at the truth of McNamee’s assertions that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, 19 members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform welcomed Clemens into Congressional offices. Another six or so are expected to meet with him Tuesday.

Remember, these are the people who will decide whether Clemens is lying with his denials or McNamee is lying with his allegations. They are judge and jury when it comes to deciding if the case should be referred to the Justice Department for possible perjury charges. Yet they welcomed Clemens into their sanctuaries to meet and greet — and to have staff members get autographs and have pictures taken with Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Imagine a murder trial in a state or federal court. A jury is selected, and in the days before the trial is scheduled to begin, the defendant meets privately with the jurors.

Weird, just weird.

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