Roger Clemens’s bullpen got a little emptier today after his former Yankee compatriot Andy Pettitte effectively came in for relief on the opposing team. In the morning, Newsday broke word that Pettitte has already backed up a crucial piece evidence linking Clemens to steroid use. According to Representative Tom Davis, Pettitte’s account of a particular 2002 workout session with the two athletes and Clemens’s trainer Brian McNamee corroborates the version that McNamee tells — that while the three were training six years ago, McNamee told Pettitte that he was giving Clemens illegal drugs. McNamee, of course, is the source of much of the Mitchell Report’s evidence on steroid and HGH use in the MLB. He’s insisted that he repeatedly injected Clemens with steroids and HGH, and Pettitte with HGH (which Pettitte has admitted to). If Pettitte’s deposition validates the conversation, as Representative Davis said it did, then Clemens is going to have a much harder time convincing the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that McNamee was merely injecting him with a healthy dose of legal vitamins. Now, instead of just disputing the testimony of McNamee — a somewhat shady character to begin with — Clemens is also contradicting Andy Pettitte, who is (a) Clemens’s best friend, (b) a relatively honest guy since he came clean about the HGH, and (c) a two-time twenty-game winner. More important, Pettitte has no reason to lie. (Clemens’s claim that his fellow pitcher is simply “misremembering” sounds pretty weak.) Add to this McNamee’s recent delivery of allegedly tainted old syringes and gauze pads to authorities, and Clemens isn’t going on the mound tomorrow looking too good.
But things became even more muddled today after Representative Davis refuted the Newsday story, saying he was “misquoted and misunderstood.” He later claimed that Pettitte’s deposition “doesn’t get into a lot of detail.” Furthermore, Pettitte won’t testify at the hearing tomorrow, as was previously expected, because his sworn deposition on Monday was deemed sufficient enough. But ESPN reported that Pettitte was dropped because he “was not a good witness” and “often contradicted himself” on Monday. So now we have on our hands kind of a “he-said-he-said-he-said-he said.” There’s also a strange subplot going on between Representative Henry Waxman and Rusty Hardin, Clemens’s lawyer. Waxman accuses Hardin of trying to intimidate IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, after Hardin said, “If he ever messes with Roger, Roger will eat his lunch.” What? First of all, what does that mean? Is that like “I drink your milkshake“? Does Mrs. Novitzky pack an especially good sandwich? And what kind of lawyer tries to make his client look like a bully the day before his hearing? Is that a strategy? It’s possible that at the highly anticipated hearing tomorrow some of this insanity will be clarified, but it’s more likely that things get even more confusing as either Clemens or McNamee continues to lie and bewilder. —Dan Amira
Related: Roger & Him [NYM]