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 story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrate. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.