Why DNA evidence doesn't sink Clemens

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In response to my post regarding the problems the prosecution may have convicting Clemens, reader Anthony E. emailed me and basically asked why does anyone care about McNamee’s credibility if the feds have DNA evidence related to Clemens and PEDs (which they do).

Good question! And, as I noted over a year ago, it actually renders the McNamee credibility thing more problematic for prosecutors, not less.

You’ll recall that the blood and DNA evidence came from drug paraphernalia.  You’ll also recall that the drug paraphernalia came from . . . Brian McNamee. Who had kept it. In his house. For years.  This is a bit of a problem.

Sure, it would be better for Clemens if PEDs and his blood weren’t found on those syringes, but you don’t have to be a lawyer to be familiar with the concept of chain of custody. As in, what happened to those syringes in between the time McNamee allegedly injected Clemens and the time — years later — he turned them over to federal investigators.

Clemens’ defense lawyers will be able to attack the reliability of this evidence on the basis
that it wasn’t preserved properly and was always at risk of
contamination. They’ll be able to establish that Brian McNamee had access to PEDs. They’ll be able to establish that Brian McNamee had
access to Clemens blood via the vitamin shots or whatever Clemens says
McNamee gave him. They’ll be able to establish that Brian
McNamee’s apartment is no lab and, if I had to guess, probably looks
like the kind of place in which you used to wake up still drunk and
covered in beer cans and pizza boxes when you were in college.  Most importantly, they’ll be able — as I said earlier today — that Brian McNamee is a demonstrated liar, thereby discounting any explanation he has for what happened to this evidence over the years.  As he must for it to be admissible.

In other words, any presumption that the syringe evidence is pure and
true would be pretty hard to take. This is especially true in a world
where half of the potential jurors watch CSI three times a week and thus
have elevated expectations as to the quality of forensic evidence.

Again: this doesn’t mean that Clemens is going to skate. But it does mean that the presence of DNA evidence may not be nearly as damning in this case as it is in other criminal prosecutions.

U.S. Court of Appeals affirms ruling that the minor leagues are exempt from federal antitrust law

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The Associated Press reported that on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a district court ruling which holds that the minor leagues are exempt from federal antitrust law, just like the major leagues.

In 2015, four minor leaguers sued Major League Baseball, alleging that MLB violated antitrust laws with its hiring and employment policies. They accused MLB of “restrain[ing] horizontal competition between and among” franchises and “artificially and illegally depressing” the salaries of minor league players.

The U.S. Court of Appeals said the players failed to state an antitrust claim, as the Curt Flood Act of 1998 exempted Minor League Baseball explicitly from antitrust laws.

This case is separate from the Aaron Senne case in which Major League Baseball is accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. That case was recertified as a class action lawsuit in March. In December, Major League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC), which came months after two members of Congress sought to change language in the FLSA so that minor league players could continue to be paid substandard wages.

Rockies place Carlos Gonzalez and Tyler Anderson on the disabled list

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The Rockies announced on Monday that outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and pitcher Tyler Anderson were placed on the 10-day disabled list. The club activated reliever Chad Qualls from the disabled list and recalled reliever Jairo Diaz from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Gonzalez, 31, is dealing with a strained right shoulder. He’s in the midst of his worst season, batting .221/.300/.348 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 277 plate appearances. Gonzalez is a free agent after the season and has been commonly brought up in trade discussions, but his latest injury and underwhelming season will make it difficult for the Rockies to get anything meaningful in return this summer.

Anderson, 27, has inflammation in his left knee. He dealt with a knee problem earlier this season, so the injury seems to have been reaggravated. The lefty has an ugly 6.11 ERA with a 63/23 K/BB ratio in 63 1/3 innings this season.

Qualls, 38, went on the disabled list earlier this month with back spasms. He had previously been dealing with forearm inflammation, so it’s been a rough year for the veteran. He is carrying a 4.60 ERA with a 9/5 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings.

Diaz, 26, hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2015. He has appeared in only eight games at Triple-A as he opened the season on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. So far, Diaz has allowed three earned runs on seven hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.