Brian McNamee’s defamation suit against Clemens moves forward

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As we focus our attention on the prosecution of Roger Clemens down in Washington, we’re reminded that there is a defamation suit against him chugging along up in New York.  That one was filed by his former trainer Brian McNamee, and arises out of Clemens’ statements on “60 Minutes” and elsewhere as he engaged in his P.R. assault on McNamee following the release of the Mitchell Report.  Today there was a decision: Clemens’ motion to dismiss the claim in its entirety was denied.  Two individual counts, however — intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution — were tossed out.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress claims are almost always tossed. It’s a claim dating back to an era when everyone had fainting couches and doctors prescribed medicinal bleedings in order to cure bouts with the vapors.  I may be wrong, but the last time one of those was successful, the case involved some scoundrel causing a woman in a whalebone corset to suffer a terrible fright by falsely telling her that her husband was run down by Phaeton carriage.  At any rate, people are expected to have thicker skin these days, and unless you’re, I dunno, clicking the trigger of a gun next to the temple of someone that kind of claim tends to not have any legs.

I have no idea about the malicious prosecution claim. I think I researched that claim once about a decade ago. My vague memory of it is that those are often throw-in claims too and tend not to be successful very often, but if you have more recent experience with it, by all means, chime in below.  The upshot is that McNamee’s defamation claim against Clemens is still rolling.

And I think the most important thing to remember in all of this is that Roger Clemens would not be subject to this lawsuit or to the prosecution he’s facing if he hadn’t acted like a total nut case in the couple of months following the release of the Mitchell Report. And in light of that, this is all highly entertaining.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.