Roger Clemens brought this on himself

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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.
Specifically:

  • 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
    shakedown artist.
  • 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.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.