Mistrial declared in Roger Clemens case

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UPDATE: On day two of what was supposed to be a long, arduous criminal trial of Roger Clemens, the judge has declared a mistrial. It’s over. For now anyway.  A hearing has been set for September 2nd when the entirety of the case will be revisited, but now everyone goes home.

The judge was plain as day when he ordered a mistrial. He said “it was caused by the government.”  How so: the government played a video in which the affidavit of Andy Pettitte’s wife was read by Congressman Elijah Cummings, in which she said she remembered Pettitte telling her that Clemens had admitted using steroids. The judge had specifically forbade them to play this video because the testimony was inadmissible as about 18 layers of hearsay.  That was a serious transgression. Inexcusable, really, and could have been caused by only (a) extreme incompetence; or (b) contempt for the judges’ order.

The prosecution will likely continue to pursue this case when the matter is revisited in September.  But at this point, between the Bonds’ acquittal and this blunder, I suspect that the fates are trying to tell the government something about the wisdom of pursuing high-profile perjury prosecutions regarding professional athletes and steroids.

UPDATE II:  If you’d like to see an excellent real-time account of what happened, go to Les Carpenter’s Twitter feed here, scroll down to the tweet that begins “Judge Walton is checking his Blackberry,” and read up.  Fantastic reporting by Carpenter. Totally captures how Twitter can be used in reporting this kind of story.

11:26 AM: Roger Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has moved for a mistrial.  And this just isn’t a case of Rusty being Rusty: the judge said that he will probably grant the request, ending this trial before it truly began.

Reports are still preliminary, but apparently the prosecution played a video to the jury with Andy Pettitte’s former testimony on it. Testimony that the judge has already ruled was inadmissible in this case. Hardin went crazy — you can’t practically ask a jury to disregard something they’ve heard, even though it happens often — and according to those in the courtroom, the judge had no small amount of sympathy for Hardin’s position.  Which he should, because such conduct by the prosecution is, quite frankly, inexcusable and is terribly prejudicial to the defendant.

There’s a recess going on now while the judge considers the mistrial motion.  If he declares a mistrial, we start all over again.  Likely many months from now.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.