Prosecutors: Clemens betrayed his friends

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Figure since I linked a piece on Rusty Hardin’s opening statement that I ought to do the same for the prosecution. They went yesterday afternoon. Their theory: Clemens was obsessed with his legacy. So much so that he was willing to betray friendships in order to preserve it:

The government — more than it did during its opening statement at Clemens’s mistrial last summer — also went heavy on its allegation that Clemens sought to save his reputation by sacrificing some of his closest relationships.

“It is the story of a betrayal of friendships,” Steven Durham, an assistant United States attorney, told the jury of 10 women and 6 men, including four alternates … Within minutes of starting to speak to the jury, the government showed jurors a photograph of Clemens with Andy Pettitte and their former trainer, Brian McNamee — two men who were once close to Clemens.

In the first trial the prosecutors played up some of that “athletes are arrogant and above the law” stuff, as did the prosecutors in the Barry Bonds case. It’s actually a pretty common theme in criminal cases involving athletes. “He’s always been spoiled, and he thinks he can get away with anything,” or words to that effect.

Different tack here. I think it’s a pretty decent one, as far as framing goes.  More human scale and relatable for the jury.  That arrogant athlete stuff isn’t as effective in my view because while it’s understandable, people still worship athletes even if they know better. It’s almost hard-wired. But someone betraying friends? That’s a lot easier to get your brain around.

Of course it’s all useless if the evidence isn’t there. But it’s interesting all the same.

The Nats are going to sign Francisco Rodriguez for some reason

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The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.

So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.

The Giants chemistry is suffering because a guy they all hated is gone

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I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.

Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.

All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?

Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.

Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.

Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.