We can argue — as many have in the past — that Congress should never have been involved in the steroids business in the first place. Personally, I think their primary interest was grandstanding and I found it all distasteful.
But the hearings that led to Clemens’ testimony and now his indictment were certainly within Congress’ broad powers. More importantly, however, it was Clemens who made himself such a fat and inviting target for their opportunism, and it has led to his downfall.
Congress’ interest in Clemens came on the heels of weeks of denials by
Clemens of the allegations against him contained in the Mitchell Report.
Within days of the December 13, 2007 report, Clemens lawyer, Rusty
Hardin, attacked the credibility of Brian McNamee, Clemens’ primary
accuser, calling him “a troubled and unreliable witness”;
On January 6, 2008, Clemens appeared on “60 Minutes,” vehemently denying that he ever took PEDs;
The following day Clemens filed a defamation suit against McNamee,
claiming that his statements to Mitchell and his investigators were
lies. The lawsuit was subsequently dismissed, with said dismissal being
upheld by an appellate court earlier this year;
On that same day, Clemens held a bizarre press conference in which he
played a recorded telephone conversation with Brian McNamee which, it
appeared anyway, Clemens was trying to make McNamee out as a liar or a
On January 28, 2008, Clemens’ agent, Randy Hendricks, released an
18,000-word statistical report purporting to establish that Clemens’
baseball career was subject to a typical year-to-year variation in
performance, with the implication being that Clemens did not take PEDs (my analysis of that report here);
You could not have made yourself bigger piece of wriggling Congress bait if you took a year to draw up a plan to do so. George Mitchell is a former colleague of those guys. By so loudly declaring him to be incompetent (which Clemens was, in effect, doing) Clemens all but ensured a subpoena.
And yes, I’ve heard it before: “but what if he really didn’t take PEDs!” I get that, and I don’t think someone who didn’t do something should cop to it simply for PR purposes. But even if Clemens found it intolerable to admit to taking PEDS, he could have issued a simple denial and said a few words about how, while suing to clear his name was tempting, the benefits to such a course were minor (“I don’t need a court to tell me what I already know”) and the hassle extreme (a few choice — and true — words about how hard it is for a celebrity to sue for defamation would have done the trick).
But the Rocket protested too much, either because he received bad advice or because he was too bullheaded to see the pros and cons of various courses of action. As a result, he was hauled before Congress. As a result, all kinds of seedy muck from his personal life came out into the open. All of this could have been avoided.
“Not giving in” is a mantra you hear from all of the best starting pitchers. And Clemens was certainly one of the best to ever have played the game. But what makes one successful on the baseball diamond does not necessarily make one successful off it. And Clemens is learning this the hard way.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.