Roger Clemens indicted on federal charges

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After a nineteen month investigation, a federal grand jury has indicted Roger Clemens for lying under oath to Congress when he denied
taking performance-enhancing drugs. The charges Clemens faces are: one count of obstruction of Congress; three counts of making false statements, and two
counts of perjury. The indictment — which can be read here — cites 15 distinct instances of
Clemens obstructing Congress.

The charges arise out of Clemens’ February 13, 2008 hearing before a
Congressional committee during which he swore under oath that he did not
take performance-enhancing drugs and did not discuss
performance-enhancing drugs with his former trainer Brian McNamee, Andy
Pettitte and others.

Following Clemens’ testimony, Congress asked the Department of Justice to investigate Clemens’ statements, saying in a letter to the Attorney General
“that significant questions have been raised about Mr. Clemens’s
truthfulness.”  Among those questions were, according to the Committee,
“seven sets of assertions made by Mr. Clemens in
his testimony that appear to be contradicted by other evidence before
the committee or implausible.”  Specifically:

  • Clemens’
    testimony that he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs;
  • His statement that McNamee
    injected him with the painkiller lidocaine;
  • His statement that team trainers gave him
    pain injections;
  • His statement that he received many vitamin B-12 injections;
  • His statement that he
    never discussed HGH with Brian McNamee;
  • His statement that he was not at then-teammate Jose Canseco’s home during a party which took place in early June 1998; and
  • His statement that he was never told about George Mitchell’s
    request to speak to him prior to the release of the Mitchell Report.

In its referral to the DOJ, Congress also made reference to “additional
evidence on these matters,” which presumably meant needles,
blood-stained gauze and other items McNamee turned over to
federal prosecutors in January 2008, and which he claims were evidence
of his injecting Clemens with PEDs.

All of these assertions, as well as the needle and gauze evidence, has
been subject to scrutiny by the grand jury which convened in early
2009.  DNA testing has been performed. Multiple witnesses including
McNamee, Andy Pettitte and Jose Canseco have testified. It is suspected
that many others have as well, including former major league pitcher
Jason Grimsley, former gym owner Kelly Blair and former New York Mets
clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. And now, after months of collecting evidence, the grand jury has issued
an indictment.

As I have written previously and will continue to note as the
case proceeds towards trial, an accusation does not necessarily make a
conviction likely, especially in a perjury case, especially in this
perjury case.  Many of Clemens’ statements are exceedingly difficult to
square with known facts and common sense. At the same time, many of the
witnesses against Clemens already face credibility issues, Brian
McNamee chief among them
.  Even if you believe, as I am inclined to,
that Clemens was not truthful during his Congressional testimony,
convicting him of perjury will be no easy feat.

But that is what trials are for and a trial in this case, if one ever
occurs, will not take place for a very, very long time. In the meantime,
Roger Clemens has a date with federal agents, a finger print ink
pad and a mug shot photographer. Because he is about to be criminally
charged

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $5 million contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.