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

2017 Preview: Chicago White Sox

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Chicago White Sox.

After a couple of years of an all-in approach with a core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and friends, Rick Hahn and the White Sox finally decided to tear it all down. And they tore it all down pretty productively, actually, dealing Sale and Eaton for a boatload of prospects, leading with Yoan Moncada, who has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games.

They also picked up righthander Michael Kopech who hits triple digits on the regular, one-time top prospect and still-promising Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning. They all join existing young talent like Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. The system, she is stocked.

 

In addition to all that new talent, the Sox have a new manager in Rick Renteria. What he’ll have to work with at the big league level is somewhat spotty, however, and could change pretty radically as the season wears on.

Still in house: Carols Quintana, Frazier, Cabrera and David Robertson, all of who are likely on the trading block (we know Quintana is). Hahn will entertain offers for anything not nailed down which, in this case, means anyone over the age of 25 or so. We could give a blow-by-blow of the offense, the pitching and the defense like we normally do here, but if you’re an obsessive White Sox fan you know that stuff already and if you’re not, all you really need to know is that between those inevitable departures and the loss of their ace in Sale and their best position player in Eaton, last year’s 78-wins are gonna seem like a distant memory.

Beyond trading stars for prospects, the White Sox have signaled that they’re in non-compete mode in other ways as well. New in the fold: Derek Holland, Peter Bourjos and Geovany Soto. Veterans who do a task or two well, go about their business and, if they have a super nice year, can get dealt at the deadline. In short, the lifeblood of a rebuild, not the stuff of greatness. There’s nobility in fulfilling that role even if there aren’t a lot of wins to be found in it.

Where are some wins to be found? Jose Abreu had a down year in 2016 and could be better this year. Both Holland and James Shields are capable of better years than they had last year. Indeed, it’d be close to impossible for Shields to be worse. They’ll have Carlos Rodon, who took a step forward last year and could be poised for a breakout. Quintana and company will be around until July most likely before they’re traded and before Hahn begins to call young dudes up for second half cups of coffee.

And that’s what this season is about, really. The cups of coffee. Seeing what the Sox have in their young talent, particularly Moncada, who has little left to prove in the minors, even if he spends some more time there and Rodon, who is already a key part of the big club. They may lose just as many games or more than they lost the past couple of seasons, but they’ll do it with more interesting players who fans can imagine being better in a White Sox uniform one day. And, heck, if someone develops a bit more quickly than expected, it could actually lead to good baseball. At least here and there.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League Central.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.