Andy Pettitte to be deposed in Brian McNamee’s defamation suit against Roger Clemens

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What, you thought this ended last year? Ha! Justice can move slowly in the criminal justice system, but it crawls like an injured sloth in the civil justice system. And that’s the system through which Roger Clemens’ former trainer — Brian McNamme — finds himself as he sues Clemens for defamation arising out of the events of early 2008.

You remember early 2008, don’t you? The Mitchell Report came out and Roger Clemens was accused as a user. Rather than shrug and have it be the end of things like it was for Andy Pettitte and others, Clemens launched a bizarre and ill-advised media campaign against his chief accuser, Brian McNamee, during which he called McNamee all manner of not nice things, with “liar” being the least of ’em. This was all occasioned by weird press conferences and appearances on “60 Minutes” and flawed power point presentations and taped phone calls and congressional testimony and, ultimately, a perjury trial which Clemens escaped without criminal conviction but without much of his reputation left intact.

Pettitte has been key to all of this, of course. Pettitte told McNamee that Clemens said he used HGH. McNamee told Congress and prosecutors that Pettitte said this. Then Pettitte walked into a criminal trial and created all of the reasonable doubt Clemens needed when he said he was only “50/50” as to whether Clemens ever admitted anything. I’m sure the government was pleased with all of that. Of course, he didn’t exactly change his testimony — everyone said he did but he didn’t. Whatever you think of that, though, his testimony made life kinda hard for everyone.

Despite all of this, lawyers are still willing to call him to take an oath about all of this. He could testify as early as next week. I’ll be curious to hear if he is any more sure of Clemens’ statements now than he was last year or five years ago.

No matter what happens here, I’m still trying to figure out how Brian McNamee proves damages out of all of this. Irrespective of who was telling the truth and who was lying (for the record I figure Clemens was lying and McNamee telling the truth), how does a person show reputation damages via defamation when the only reason anyone knows who he is is because he was listed in the Mitchell Report as one of the most famous purveyors of steroids in the country? A drug dealer who also wrote an article in the New York times lying his butt off about steroids. A lying, op-ed writing drug dealer who also was tied up in an alleged date-rate-drug sexual assault in a pool about which he later lied to police? How does that damages case even look?

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; my client was once thought of as a lying, drug dealing perv. Then along came Roger Clemens, who told the whole world that my client had never given him drugs! He’s been ruined by this! Please, see to it that he compensated for the loss of his good name.”

In short: even if he proves the lie, how does he prove the reputation damages?

Magic Johnson says the Dodgers will win the World Series

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Baseball, as we so often note around here, is unpredictable. Especially when it comes to the playoffs. You can be the best team in the land for six months but a few bad days can end your season once October hits.

In 2001 the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season but lost the ALCS to the Yankees, four games to one. In 1906 the Cubs won 116 games in a 152-game season and lost the World Series. In 1954 the Indians won 111 games in a 154-game season and lost the World Series. In 1931 the Philadelphia A’s won 107 games and lost the World Series.

More recently, with the advent of expanded playoffs, the chances for the team with the best record to win the World Series have been pretty dang terrible. Since the beginning of the wild card era, only five times has the team with the game’s best record gone on to win the World Series: The 1998 and 2009 Yankees, the 2007 and 2013 Red Sox and the 2016 Cubs. That’s it.

At the moment, the Los Angeles Dodgers have baseball’s best record. They’re 71-31 and sit 12 games up in their division. Their playoff chances are almost 100%. The above examples notwithstanding, if you had to make a prediction as to who might win the World Series, it would not be unreasonable to pick the Dodgers. Sure, you’d want to make sure they got Clayton Kershaw back by early September or thereabouts to make it a safer prediction, but it’d be a totally defensible pick. Maybe even the one most people make.

But it’d be the utmost in magical thinking to presume that one could make such a prediction with any degree of certainty, right? The Los Angeles Times, however, passes along some Magical thinking:

Magic Johnson called his shot Thursday night, and he wasn’t shy about it. The Dodgers’ co-owner did not hesitate when he predicted how the team would finish this year.

“The Dodgers are going to win the World Series this year,” Johnson said. “This is our year.”

The headline calls it a “guarantee.” I don’t know if I’d call it that — I think it’s more of a confident prediction — but it is a bold statement whatever you call it.

If I had to pick one team at the moment — and we could assume a healthy Clayton Kershaw — I suppose I would make them my World Series favorites too. And, yes, if I had an ownership interest in the Dodgers, I’d probably say what Johnson said.

But given the example of history, I think “field” would be a much safer bet.

Mariners trade Steve Cishek to the Rays for swingman Erasmo Ramirez.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired reliever Steve Cishek from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for reliever Erasmo Ramirez.

Cishek had appeared in 23 games this season for Seattle after recovering from major offseason hip surgery. He’s 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA, with a 15/7 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. He’s a setup man right now, but he has experience as a closer, saving 25 games for Seattle last year and as many as 39 back when he pitched for the Marlins in 2014.

Ramirez has appeared in 26 games for the Rays and has started eight games. He’s 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA and a 55/16 K/BB ratio in 69.1 innings. This will be his second stint with the Mariners, having played for them from 2012-14.

Sort of a surprising deal given that both Tampa Bay and Seattle are competing for a wild card spot, but needs are needs.