Roger Clemens goes on trial this week

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The opening statements and all of the pomp and circumstance will begin Wednesday, but the Roger Clemens perjury trial started Tuesday with evidentiary motions and the like.  Clemens is supposed to be at the courthouse in Washington, D.C. as well, so we’ll get our de riguer look at him wearing some bad suit, flanked by his lawyers and walking into the building. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

We’ve talked a lot about the Clemens trial recently, and given our recent experience with Barry Bonds, we all have a good idea about how this stuff is gonna work, so I’ll spare you a detailed preview. But here’s the short version:

  • Clemens is accused of lying to Congress when he said he never took performance enhancing drugs;
  • His statements to that effect were far more stark and certain than those Barry Bonds made at his grand jury testimony;
  • Unlike Bonds, there are witnesses who will come forward to say that Clemens is flat lying (his former trainer, Brian McNamee) or at least suggest that his story is implausible, even if they don’t have direct knowledge of Clemens’ drug use itself (Andy Pettitte); and
  • Unlike the Bonds case, where no one disputed Bonds’ actual use of PEDs as opposed to his knowing use, forensic evidence that directly links Clemens to PEDs will be highly relevant here, particularly those syringes that Brian McNamee saved and handed over to the feds, and which allegedly contain some Clemens DNA (and which the defense, of course, will attack as corrupted and/or phony).

Over at the Daily News, Nathaniel Vinton has his own preview, focusing on one of the other major differences between the Bonds case and the Clemens case: the lead investigator. Vinton introduces us to FBI agent John Longmire, who led the investigation into Clemens. Unlike Bonds investigator Jeff Novitzky, Longmire does not seem like someone who has sought out media attention and does not see PED cases as his ticket to fame.

My takeaway on that is that: while we can still say that PED prosecutions are a questionable use of government resources, this case is a different beast than the Bonds case. No one made it a career priority to get Roger Clemens.  He did most of this to himself and, at some point, the government simply can’t ignore it when it is being poked as much as Roger Clemens and his legal team poked it.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.