Opening statements began in the Roger Clemens trial this morning.
The government led with those syringes that Brian McNamee kept and will apparently hang their case on them. This is not terribly surprising, though it is not without risk. The lab analysis will say what the lab analysis says on those things — the prosecutors say it will show Clemens DNA + PEDs — but the fact is that McNamee basically kept them in a shoebox under his bed next to stale pizza crusts for a few years, so they will be subject to attack on chain-of-custody and integrity grounds. Add that to jurors’ increasing (and annoying) skepticism of forensic evidence that doesn’t meet “CSI: Whereverthehell” standards, and it could be a hard case for the prosecution to make.
Meanwhile, Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, appears to have his own uphill climb in front of him:
Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin told the jury that the government is “horribly wrong” in charging his client with perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress … “There was rush to judgment on Roger that has made it impossible for him to be fairly heard until he got here … It’s a fact of life that sometimes when people reach the mountain, there is an unwillingness to give them equal consideration when people come down on them,” Hardin said. “And that’s what happened with Roger.”
Can’t argue with that. Rich, powerful and famous people have been getting an unfair shake in this Republic since time immemorial. It’s a tragedy, really.
UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.