Craig Calcaterra

Roger Clemens closeup head

Roger Clemens settles the Brian McNamee lawsuit

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The New York Post reports that Roger Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee have settled the defamation lawsuit brought against him by his former trainer, Brian McNamee. The terms have not been disclosed.

The roots of this go back over seven years, to the time just after the Mitchell Report was released. McNamee was one of George Mitchell’s primary sources, and he claimed that he had sold, given or had administered performance enhancing drugs to Clemens, among others. Clemens vehemently denied this after the report was released and engaged in a legal and public relations onslaught against his former trainer. Clemens filed a defamation suit of his own, but it was almost completely eviscerated by a federal court and what little was left of it was eventually dismissed. McNamee’s suit against Clemens, however, has had legs, and now it presumably involves Clemens paying McNamee a great deal of money to make it go away.

That it got this far is pretty amazing. Clemens was always a physically gifted pitcher, but so was Kyle Farnsworth and any number of guys who could throw amazing heat. Clemens’ success, like the success of any all-time great hurler, came from combining those gifts with a good strategic mind. Clemens always had a plan on the mound and new how he’d get the batter out. His post-Mitchell Report behavior, in contrast, was unexpected, bizarre and ultimately self-destructive.

If, as he claimed, he never took PEDs, he could’ve issued a simple denial and gone on with his life. Heck, he could’ve done that even if it was a lie and nothing would have happened to him. Alternatively, if he took PEDs, as most of us suspect he did, he could’ve admitted it. No matter which of those courses he took, the fallout — apart from as it related to his Hall of Fame case — would’ve ended for him in early 2008. He never would’ve been sued. He never would’ve been hauled before Congress and, eventually, subjected to a perjury prosecution. He never would’ve had the sordid details of his personal life printed in every newspaper and broadcast on every channel.  All of that was a function of his combative and litigious response to the release of the Mitchell Report.

But that’s what he did, either out of stubbornness, arrogance, miscalculation or some combination of all of those things. And that’s why, only now, over seven years later, the matter is finally being settled.

Joe West ejects A.J. Pierzynski by calmly telling the Braves’ dugout “you need a new catcher.”

Joe West
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A.J. Pierzynski’s ejections are the best. Anyone can yell and cuss and be a big jerk about things, but Pierzynski has style. Remember last year when he was run off after requesting a new ball from the home plate umpire by saying “Give me a ball, a new ball — one you can see”? That’s 80-grade stuff right there.

We’re not sure what he said in yesterday’s Grapefruit League game, but he was ejected by home plate umpire Joe West. And, to his credit, West used some Pierzynski cool in tossing A.J. Watch the video and listen closely to what West says in order to signify the ejection:

Hear that? He looked at the Braves’ dugout and said “you need a new catcher.” Say what you want about West, but that’s pretty damn funny. I mean, it’s probably still motivated by West having thin skin and being unable to take any sort of criticism for his usually crap strike zone, but it’s still pretty funny.

The harsh winter has made groundskeepers’ lives a bit more challenging this year

grass
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Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post has a story about the challenges groundskeepers are facing this spring given all of the cold and snow that hit the northeast and midwest this past winter. Especially late this winter during a time when, typically, prep work for the upcoming season begins.

For example, they’re putting in new sod at Nationals Park. But due to the record cold February, the work on that had to be delayed a bit:

“I’ve never been in a situation where you’re putting a field in three weeks before your season,” Turnour said. “So there’s a lot of stress with that, not knowing what to expect.

So if Bryce Harper slips and falls while fielding a ball on Opening Day, there’s at least a slight chance it’s not him trying to trick a runner into taking an extra base.

 

Baseball is trashing the paper All-Star ballot

Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies
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I’m sure someone, somewhere is lamenting this, with said lament being nothing more than an exercise in nostalgia, but good for baseball for joining the 21st century: Major League Baseball is getting rid of the punch card paper All-Star Game ballots.

As the story notes, a memo was sent out to team presidents to this effect. All balloting will now be online. Which is fine given that over 80 percent of all All-Star votes were submitted online already and tens of millions of printed ballots went unused. Getting rid of the ballots saves paper. It also saves the labor of the poor stadium workers who had to toss all of those discarded and unused ballots which littered ballpark aisles and concourses after every game between April and June. Really, we’re all disgusting pigs who treat ballparks like they’re our own personal trash cans. It’s good that some of our slop is being taken away.

I’m guessing some of you, in addition to the nostalgia stuff, will lament the loss of paper ballots by arguing  that the online ballots have made a mockery of All-Star voting. To which I’ll say (a) paper ballots lend themselves to ballot box stuffing too, even if it’s a slightly more quaint version of it; and (b) the continuing insistence of Major League Baseball to tie home field advantage in the World Series to the results of the All-Star Game does far more to make a mockery of baseball than some hacker in Pacific Northwest creating a program to shoot 50,000 votes to, like, Dustin Ackley ever will.

Not just a UCL: Zack Wheeler had been pitching through a torn tendon since last year

Zack Wheeler Getty
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The other day Zack Wheeler was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, ending his season and no doubt calling for Tommy John surgery. But Marc Carig of Newsday reports that he had other problems too: a torn tendon in his elbow dating back to last year, along with calcification in is elbow.

The tendon tear caused him pain but, according to doctors, was not likely to get worse with pitching, so it was just a matter of Wheeler enduring pain. In the offseason Wheeler underwent platelet-rich plasma therapy in hopes it would heal, but it didn’t work.

So yeah, this kid is seriously physically messed up.