Brian McNamee

Roger Clemens wants the jury to know how bad a dude Brian McNamee is


Roger Clemens’ lawyers filed a motion yesterday asking to be allowed to tell the jury just how bad a dude Clemens’ main accuser — Brian McNamee — really is.  It came in the form of an opposition to the government’s motion in limine, which is the government’s attempt to keep the jury from hearing about just how bad a dude McNamee is.  This is a really, really important motion. I’ll explain why in a second. But first, the legal setting:

The issue of whether a witnesses’ past bad acts can be mentioned comes up in tons of cases, especially criminal ones. At issue is always the same argument: one side says that just because the witness has been involved in some past shadiness doesn’t mean that what he’s saying isn’t true, so mentioning that shadiness is unfair and could unduly prejudice the jury. Underlying all of this is the notion that, hey, criminals associate with scumbags, and if every witness’ dirty laundry were aired, it would be really hard to get convictions. Let us put a bad guy on the stand so we can get a worse guy, OK?

The other side says, nope, that past shadiness goes to the witnesses’ credibility, and the jury can’t properly weigh his testimony unless they know who they’re dealing with. Sometimes the past acts are allowed into evidence (in the form of cross examination) sometimes not (the cross examiner is not allowed to say anything). It’s up to the judge.

But while this is a common fight, in the Roger Clemens case it is an extremely critical one. Indeed, the entire case likely turns on it.  Why? Because the government’s entire case is based on Brian McNamee, really, and if he is not believed by the jury — if they think he is not credible and/or generally sleazy — it’s virtually certain that Clemens will skate.

So what is it that the government doesn’t want the jury to know about Brian McNamee?

One of them we’ve talked about at length: McNamee was once questioned by police in Florida about a rape allegation. While there were never any charges filed, the police did note in their report that they believed he was lying to them.  That could be highly relevant in terms of McNamee’s credibility — if he’d lie to cops, why wouldn’t he lie to investigators, Congress or this jury? — but because the rape angle is so sensational, any information the jury could use about McNamee’s credibility could conceivably be outweighed by their visceral reaction to the context.  That will be a tough call for the judge.

But there are more.  In the motion, Clemens’ lawyers make reference to the following:

“… police misconduct at the NYPD, purported substance abuse and addiction, a conviction for driving while intoxicated, indebtedness and collection actions, tax fraud, prescription drug fraud and distribution, loan fraud, and breaking and entering.”

Some of that stuff is clearly out because it’s only possible use is to make McNamee look like a scumbag. Some of it, however, like fraud, could go to the man’s credibility and propensity to lie and/or concoct phony evidence such as syringes stored in soda cans.

The prosecution’s case in chief is currently underway and McNamee will soon take the stand, so the judge is going to have to decide all of this soon.  And given how important McNamee is as a witness, when he does, he may very well be deciding Roger Clemens’ legal fate.

(link via David Nieporent at BTF)

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.