Roger Clemens’ is not having a good go of it in the Brian McNamee defamation lawsuit

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Yeah, that lawsuit is still around. It was filed in 2009, before Clemens found himself up on criminal charges but after the Mitchell Report came out and Clemens decided that the best defense was a good offense and went after his former trainer in a high-pitched P.R. campaign. And maybe the best defense is a good offense. It’s just that Clemens’ offense was pretty damn dumb and now he finds himself in a judge’s doghouse.

As the Daily News reports, Clemens and his legal team have been called on the carpet by the federal judge hearing McNamee’s defamation case. Clemens has stalled and delayed, apparently in an effort to avoid turning over hundreds of emails between him and his advisors in the days following the release of the Mitchell Report. It was then that the idea to come out with a coordinated P.R. campaign in which Clemens denied drug use, trashed McNamee as a liar and a criminal and portrayed himself as the best pitcher and biggest victim in baseball history.

The questions about McNamee’s character were fair game in the criminal case against Clemens — you have to go after the credibility of your accusers when your freedom is on the line — but my feeling back in 2008, as now, was that Clemens never should have launched the P.R. offensive to begin with. It was unnecessary — if he stayed silent it all would have gone away  — it led to all sorts of damaging personal information coming out about Clemens and, ultimately, his going on the offensive is what led to him being called before Congress which led to his criminal prosecution. It also spawned this lawsuit, of course, which McNamee filed as a defensive measure when Clemens sued him first. Turns out Clemens’ suit was a dud. McNamee, though he never would’ve filed it if all things were equal, still has a viable case years later.

My guess is that there is some pretty bad stuff in those emails Clemens doesn’t want to let loose. Stuff that can’t hurt him criminally anymore like they could have a couple of years ago, but stuff that will show him to be a liar and a cheater. Which, yes, everyone thinks he is anyway. But it’s one thing to hold that as a personal opinion. Another thing altogether to have it laid out before you in black and white.

Fun times.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?