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

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉