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.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

*

Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.