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?

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: