With his recent news conference, 17-minute taped phone conversation, 60 Minutes interview and impending appearance before the U.S. Congress, Roger Clemens has raised some doubt to his guilt in the Steroid Era of Baseball. However, some continue to think that it can’t be possible that Clemens could have been a target of less-than-honest federal agents or government-supported investigators.
His trainer, Brain McNamee, seems very likely a man coerced into a no-win situation, the favorite play of those Federal, Virginia farm boys. With a son in a serious medical condition, and a federal mandate to “play ball” with them, the fact he could have thrown Roger Clemens under the bus for his own personal freedom or ability to look like a “truthful sot”, after dealing in steroids, is certainly possible.
ESPN’s Jason Smith last night on “All Night” seemed to think that Roger Clemens wasn’t very clear in his phone conversation. Of course he wasn’t. He taped the call to somehow garner evidence of his innocence. His legal representative(s) instructed him not to coax, or intimidate or imply a threat in any way toward McNamee. In other words, he was to stay fairly ambiguous because:
1) Their call was being monitored by the Feds/name your law enforcement – quote from McNamee: “I’m on a cell phone. And I understand that I don’t expect – I can’t open up to you the way I want to, and I know you can’t.”
2) In many jurisdictions, taping a call is illegal, or at least, inadmissable depending on the nature and agreement of the parties. Moreover, you can’t coerce testimony or threaten a person in or about the nature of the situation and maintain a sympathetic pose in a court of law. Roger was doing that, in light of his obvious anger over this charge.
Roger Clemens: “I just want the truth out there, and if I got to go – whatever I’m doing – I just want the truth out there. And like I said, I just can’t believe what’s being said. We’re getting it from all angles. And, you know, I haven’t talked to anybody other than my representatives – and Randy (Hendricks). Everybody is just – everybody is just so upset.“
Brian McNamee: “I don’t have any money. I have nothing. I’m not doing a book deal. I got offered seven figures to go on TV. I didn’t do it. I didn’t take it. I didn’t do anything. All I did was what I thought was right – and I never thought it was right, but I thought that I had no other choice, put it that way. And I think when I spoke with your guys, that I laid it out there. And I was sick. I was in the hospital. ” (Possibly coerced by the government to give up a big name, Roger Clemens, or go to prison.)
Roger: “I didn’t do it, this, you know, all this stuff. And I just, like I said, I’m numb to everything. And we get, you know, Deb is, you know, she’s a mess. And I mean, like you said, when it affects Brian, you know, I got Koby in the game, and he’s getting, he’s getting crushed.”
Brain McNamee: “Roger, what do you want me to do? What do you want me to do? What do you want me to do?”
(The sounds of a scared man — not a man who is confident that his assertions were true in the Mitchell report. Or maybe, he was trying to get Clemens to admit something also. The Feds may have put McNamee up to a plan to send an email (Clemens:”That’s why I answered your e-mail when I heard “) and take calls from Roger to entrap Clemens. So in this area, both sides are playing a game…)
3) Code. The two of them are vague and ambiguous in several passages, talking about the New York Mets, Jim Murray, some person of interest to worry about, etc. The passage seems like McNamee brought the thief to the hen house, introducing Clemens to a person that had nothing but bad intentions, unbeknowst to Clemens…
McNamee: I’ve got a car that doesn’t work. I got (expletive deleted) attorneys
saying (expletive deleted) they shouldn’t be saying and trying to make a name
from themselves where I lose control.
McNamee: Everything I have to this day I have because of you.
Clemens: I’m just, like I said, Mac, I’m just – I can’t, you know, for the life of me, I’m trying to find out why you would tell guys that I used steroids from –
McNamee: I understand that. I understand that. And like I told the guys that tape-recorded me –
Clemens: Who’s the guys that tape-recorded you?
Clemens: You’re talking about the two investigators
that came down and talked to you.
McNamee: Right. If I was lawyered up. If I
had any idea what the (expletive deleted) was going on, why would I do that?
McNamee guises it, not so well. He cuts off Clemens because he:
A) Is Getting Clemens to mention Steroids can be enough to prove some involvement for the Feds
B) But he is just playing along, trying to clue Clemens in to the wire tapping by the Feds. Not that it matters, since Clemens was doing the same.
Both sides are playing a high stakes game. Clemens is trying to clear his name — trying to besmirch McNamee’s reputation, who is still being pulled around by a string by the Feds. The Feds have Brian as a star witness, but it may backfire on them, if this gets too far a field.
The Congressional hearing will likely raise more questions — if Clemens is decided clean, McNamee will likely go to prison for lying or obstruction — but will either or both men take the 5th on direct examination? Likely, McNamee will. He has, it seems, more incentive to not tell the truth there.
Or at least, was given one by the Mitchell report – since that isn’t prosecutable by any standard I know of. (But what he told the Feds likely is.)
Clemens may be guilty – I just have to see him take the same stances he has projected and somehow do it with the same spirit. And whether he goes first – leaving McNamee to either tell the truth behind him or take the 5th, will decide.
It all should be very interesting.
Greg Kihn Band: Jeopardy OK . Seemed like an appropriate song.