Roger Clemens speaks

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Roger Clemens doesn’t give too many interviews these days, but he spoke with Jon Pessah of True/Slant recently, and the results are here.

You may or may not be shocked to learn that the Rocket has sympathy for Mark McGwire and Tiger Woods. You probably will be a bit surprised to hear that Clemens’ flushed, lip-licking appearance before Congress — which some pseudo-science peddling body language experts claimed to be evidence of lying* — was due him taking a three mile run that morning. Not saying you’ll believe it, just saying you might be surprised to hear it.

*why we need to resort to pseudo-science to determine that Clemens was lying that day when so much of what he said was manifestly ridiculous is a question for another day.

But nothing Clemens says is terribly provocative. At least not as provocative as something Pessah said in the editorial portion of the interview:

If I’m concerned about how the steroid era played out — and I am — I’m
far more concerned with those in charge who threw Barry Bonds, Clemens
and a handful of others under the bus to save themselves. No one has
profited more from steroids in baseball than Selig, who sold his team
for a fortune just before the steroid bubble burst and rode the
popularity of a game built on PEDs to an $18 million yearly salary.
Then he gave George Mitchell $20 million to pin the blame
for steroids on an angry black man and an arrogant white Texan. Anyone
who believes Selig’s spiel that he’s cleaned up baseball is both naive
and foolish. As Victor Conte continually tells me, drug tests are
little more than IQ tests–you really have to be dumb to flunk one. And
there is still no proven test for HgH.

I was highly critical of the Mitchell Report when it came out and believe to this day that it was designed to create scapegoats and to try and end the steroid conversation as opposed to truly investigating the totality of performance enhancing drugs in baseball.  I don’t think, however, that anyone went out to set up Bonds or Clemens specifically, especially based on some half-baked cultural stereotypes.  If anything, I think Selig and Mitchell wanted to make Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee the fall guys.  To the extent Clemens has become a pariah it’s largely of his own doing (see, post-report behavior; Mindy McCreedy ugliness, etc.). If anyone set out to make Bonds a fall guy or a poster boy or whatever it was Jeff Novitzsky and whatever supervisors he had who were asleep at the switch.

But there’s some truth in that blockquote, mostly with the notion that everyone in baseball — players, owners, agents, executives, advertisers, lawyers and, yes, people in the media — profited from steroids, and yet only one subset of one class of people — superstar players — get any scorn.  There’s something wrong with that.

Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito: WHO SAYS NO?!!

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 28:  Lucas Giolito #44 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on June 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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The rumor mongers are churning up some good stuff about the Yankees and the Nationals maybe talking about an Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito deal. It started with Jon Morosi saying that the Nationals were willing to trade Giolito, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, to the Yankees for Miller straight up.

Taking two steps back, the idea of a Miller-for-Giolito deal seems like it’d be something the Yankees would jump at in a heartbeat. Giolito would, in the normal course, be worth more than a relief pitcher. Even a good one under team control like Miller is. So if the Nats were willing to do this, the Yankees would be fools not to accept, right?

Well, no. Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman are saying that the Yankees are looking for a massive return for Miller, more than what Cubs gave them for Aroldis Chapman. That deal netted New York prospect Gleyber Torres and three other players who have future value. Gioloto is worth more straight up than Torres, but the Yankees want another big package, not just one guy. Assuming those reports are true, are the Yankees being greedy?

Maybe not! Maybe it’s not about the Yankees’ eyes being wide. Maybe it’s about the nature of prospects and how all of our eyes get a bit wide over them, especially when national rankings are released each spring. We see Giolito or someone like him named the top prospect — or maybe a top-3 prospect — and immediately believe they are untouchable or, at the very least, close to invaluable.

But here, if the rumors are to be believed, the Nats are offering him for a relief pitcher. And the Yankees are saying “nah, we need more.” Maybe they both see something the prospect raters and coveters don’t. Maybe, in the abstract, they’re just as high on him as the raters and coveters are but maybe they don’t live in the abstract. Maybe they have the added benefit of (a) experience with the fortunes of young pitching prospects; and (b) a downside risk in loving them too much that the raters and coveters don’t have. No prospect rater risks being fired if the guy they rank #1 in any given year blows his shoulder out. Team employees have been.

I have no idea if there are legs to these rumors. I know that I like Giolito as a prospect, for whatever that’s worth, and the Yankees definitely have a need for young, projectable and controllable pitching talent. Likewise, given that they’re in a transitional period right now and given that they Have Dellin Betances, they could do without Andrew Miller if they needed to. He’s someone they could deal in order to get a guy in Gioloto who would instantly become their top prospect.

But it’s the deadline and people get a bit nuts. Teams ask for the stars, yes, but those of us on the outside tend to forget that a huge number of prospects, especially pitching prospects, never pan out. For all of the hype a deadline occasions and for as much as we see a beautiful future for each and every young hurler that comes down the pike, there are no clear answers about who is or who isn’t being unreasonable here. That is, if any of this stuff is true.

Enjoy the trade deadline, everyone. Just remember that no one knows anything and everyone, on some level, is making a bet.

Chicago woman pledges money to a domestic violence charity for each Aroldis Chapman save

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 28:  Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the 9th inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the White Sox 3-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Though never charged with a crime, Aroldis Chapman was involved in a domestic violence incident that involved the intimidation of his girlfriend. He allegedly smashed a window of a car in his garage and then fired a gun, sending his girlfriend cowering into the bushes. He admitted to that much anyway, saying he used bad judgment, particularly with the gun, and apologized as he accepted his suspension from Major League Baseball.

But though he apologized, Chapman has declined to make any efforts to combat or to raise awareness of domestic violence. He is not required to do so, of course, but his peculiar dismissal of the topic in the press conference introducing him as a Chicago Cub the other day continues to make many uneasy with rooting for a team which employs him, even if he makes them better and even if his talent is undeniable.

One such person is Cubs fan Caitlin Swieca. She decided to do something about it, however, and has found a way to at least begin to make Chapman’s presence on her favorite team at least a little less uncomfortable:

Swieca selected the Domestic Violence Legal Council of Chicago, which provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence. Chapman got his first save last night and her first pledge was made. Many others have taken her example as her pledge has been publicized. If you’re interested in getting involved, she has provided some additional domestic violence charities in the Chicago area:

If a young woman who is, presumably, not making $11.325 million this year can make such an effort, I wonder if Aroldis Chapman might see clear to do so too.