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.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.