Brian McNamee on Roger Clemens: “I was pretty much in charge of his body”

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Today, the prosecution in the Roger Clemens case finally, after four weeks of trial, put on their star witness: Brian McNamee. He’s still testifying as this post goes live.

The beef of it all: McNamee testified that he injected Roger Clemens with steroids about eight to 10 times when they both were with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He said Clemens supplied the PEDs, McNamee did the injecting.  In his overall training, however, McNamee was in charge. That quote in the headline was part of his testimony today.

Pfun Pfact: the first time McNamee ever saw steroids was when Jose Canseco, also with the Blue Jays, gave him some syringes wrapped in tin foil. Just thought that was interesting.

Anyway, the key here — that McNamee injected Clemens with what they both knew to be steroids — has been what McNamee has said all along. He is the only witness in this trial who has first-hand evidence of Clemens’ PED use. No one who testified in the Barry Bonds case had similar evidence against Bonds, for that matter.  It’s the fundamental difference between this prosecution and the Bonds prosecution, and the reason why Clemens faces substantially more legal risk than did Bonds, even with the prosecution seemingly stepping on its own feet so many times in the past couple of weeks.

But direct examination — which is what we got today — is only half the story.  McNammee will be cross-examined tomorrow. And, as we have noted many times, there is a lot the defense can fire at him to harm his credibility.  How he holds up to that cross examination will likely determine whether Roger Clemens is convicted or acquitted.

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.