Phil Garner, former Clemens teammates are testifying for the defense

18 Comments

As the Roger Clemens case drags on, the defense is trying to dazzle the jury with star power!  Well, Phil Garner, Charlie O’Brien and other Clemens teammates anyway:

Roger Clemens lost something off his fastball in his 40s but still succeeded by pitching smarter, his former manager testified today.

“He continued to have great success, but for different reasons,” said defense witness Phil Garner, who managed Clemens with the Houston Astros from 2004-2006. “He didn’t just overpower teams; he outsmarted teams … He wasn’t as domineering as he was earlier.”

Scrap Iron went on to rave about Clemens’ work habits and drive and all of that.  Yesterday former Clemens catchers Charlie O’Brien and Darrin Fletcher testified. Here’s O’Brien:

“I don’t think he’d cheat,” said former journeyman catcher Charlie O’Brien, who caught Clemens’ games for much of the 1997 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. O’Brien portrayed Clemens as such a stickler that he’d refuse to throw scuffed baseballs because he considered it cheating.

Two things:

(1) How DARE they call the former personal catcher of the great Greg Maddux — and the inventor of the hockey-style catcher’s mask — a “journeyman catcher.”  He is a genius and a saint and shall ever be thus; and

(2) Even if he is a genius and a saint, dude ought to be prosecuted for perjury right now for saying that Clemens refused to throw a scuffed baseball.  Because that’s crazy. Not saying he scuffed them, but if a scuffed one was inadvertently returned to him rather than be replaced by a fresh ball, I would bet my children’s lives on him or any other pitcher throwing the thing.

Fletcher’s testimony sounded almost fanboy-esque. He did say that Clemens would purse his lips on the mound when he wanted to throw a curveball. Which is a new one to me. I guess the death stares and game-rage he usually displayed were him asking to throw the heat and the splitter.

Anyway, at least the trial sounds more interesting than it was before. Because, you know, Phil Garner and those guys.

Must-Click Link: Where’s Timmy?

Getty Images
2 Comments

Tim Lincecum last pitched last season for the Angels and he did not pitch well. Over the winter and into the spring there were reports that he was working out at a facility somewhere in Arizona with an aim toward trying to latch on to another team. He didn’t. And, given how his velocity and effectiveness had nosedived over the previous few seasons, it was probably unrealistic to think he’d make it back to the bigs.

But now, as Daniel Brown of the Mercury News reports, he seems to simply be gone.

He’s not missing in any legal sense — his friends and family know where he is — but he’s out of the public eye in a way that most players at the end of their careers or the beginning of their retirements usually aren’t. He’s not been hanging around his old club, even though the Giants say they’d love to honor him and give him a job if and when he announces his retirement. He’s not hanging around his high school or college alma maters even though he makes his home in Seattle, where they are. He’s gone from being one of the most identifiable and conspicuous presences in baseball to having disappeared from the public eye.

Brown’s story is an excellent one, touching on Lincecum’s professional rise and professional fall, as well as the personality traits that may suggest why he’s not eager to be making headlines or posing for pictures. A good read.

 

Major League Baseball claims it will “redouble its efforts” on expanded netting

15 Comments

Yesterday, during the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium, a young girl was injured after a foul ball flew off the bat of Todd Frazier and into the stands along the third base line where she was sitting. In some parks that ball would be stopped because of netting down the line.

There was no netting that far down the line in Yankee Stadium, because (a) Major League Baseball does not require it; and (b) the Yankees have still not committed to expanding it like other teams have.

A few minutes ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement about the injury:

I’m not sure how baseball can “redouble” its efforts given that its efforts thus far have been to completely delegate the responsibility of expanded netting to the 30 clubs.

This delegation came in December of 2015 when Major League Baseball released its recommendation — not its mandate — that teams provide expanded netting. Teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts (i.e., the ends of the dugouts located closest to home plate) and within 70 feet of home plate with protective netting or other safety materials of the clubs’ choice. At the same time, they launched “fan education” guidelines about where to sit and whether or not they’ll be protected.

While these recommendations were better than nothing, they also seemed far more geared toward diminishing the liability of the league and its clubs than actively protecting fans from screaming projectiles.

The stuff about fan education was obviously a creature of an assumption-of-the-risk calculus. It was, essentially, a disclaimer of the “don’t say we didn’t warn you” variety and, as such, was aimed more at shielding baseball from liability over batted ball or bat-shard injuries than at directly shielding fans from such injuries. Even the netting recommendation could be construed as MLB insulating itself from being joined in a lawsuit at a later date if a club were to get sued over a fan injury. A way of saying “hey, we told the Yankees [or whoever] that they should do more, please don’t sue us too.”

It’s one thing to do all of that and walk away, as the league seemed content to do in 2015. It’s another thing to walk back today, as Manfred is, claiming that the league will “redouble” such transparently ineffective efforts. It’s frankly insulting. Yet this is baseball’s approach to the matter. The league is, for whatever reason, afraid to tell its clubs that it has to do something that is so clearly prudent. It, apparently, is waiting for a someone to be killed by a foul ball before mandating netting rather than meekly suggesting it.

Oh, I’m sorry. Waiting for someone else to be killed. Because it has happened before. Absent prudent protections it will, inevitably, happen again.

While Major League Baseball may have been safe from being held responsible for such things due to its ticket disclaimers and assumption of the risk arguments in the past, it won’t be in the future. One would hope it will not take death or debilitating injury of a fan for the league to accept it.