Roger Clemens

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.

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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Associated Press
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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.