And so it begins: the final season in the old Yankee stadium (built in 1923) begins today. The first regular game, against the Blue Jays, starts today at 1:05 p.m. What the press is wondering about on the big day.
As the Yankees try to sort out their pitching lineup for the year, manager Joe Girardi announced yesterday that 22-year-old Joba Chamberlain won't be in the starting role that Hank Steinbrenner noisily projected for him.
After hedging a bit, Congress has decided to refer Roger Clemens to the Department of Justice for a perjury investigation. They are concerned that his testimony over his alleged steroid use directly contradicts that of former trainer Brian McNamee and fellow Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte. You'd think this would be bad news for Clemens and his legal team, as a handful of U.S. leaders just basically called BS on his testimony. But we sort of suspect that his lawyers were a little bit psyched, because they got to deliver this line:
"Now we are done with the circus of public opinion, and we are moving to the courtroom," Clemens' lead lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "Thankfully, we are now about to enter an arena where there are rules and people can be held properly accountable for outrageous statements."
Roger Clemens's congressional steroid testimony appears to be unraveling word-by-word and boob-by-boob just as the Timesdiscovers that a letter is being drafted to refer Clemens to the Department of Justice for a perjury investigation. The Daily Newsreports that a famous Yankee locker-room story about Debbie Clemens, Roger's current wife, comparing her breast enhancements with Roger's previous wife, Jessica, at a 1998 barbecue at Jose Canseco's house may be proof that the pitcher was lying about not being there. Meanwhile, the Timespokes holes in Roger's claim that he needed to privately meet with his nanny before she talked to investigators because her English is "not that good." According to the paper, she speaks the language very well, with just an accent, which indicates that Clemens may have wanted to prep her for another reason. The letter to the DOJ has not been sent, but its mere existence is a blow to Clemens. So far, Congress has not drafted one to recommend a perjury investigation on Brian McNamee, his former trainer who has supplied the steroid allegations. But more importantly, if there is an investigation, Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte will probably be dragged into all this again to testify. Leave our Andy alone! He's trying to put all this mess with Clemens behind him. Can't you just let him enjoy his rebound bromance in peace?
Congress May Single Out Clemens [NYT]
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The Yankees begin full-squad workouts tomorrow, but that doesn't mean their focus has completely shifted back to baseball yet. Take Derek Jeter, who spent his off-season working on plans for a line of health clubs, the first of which will open this June near Madison Square Park. The Yankee captain says that not only will his name be on the front door, but he'll often be inside working out. We caught up with him last week and asked whether he was afraid of this additional opportunity for fans to harass him for autographs. "Not at all," the shortstop laughed. "The more you're around, the more people get used to seeing you, and probably tired of seeing you."
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Breaking news: Andy Pettitte is adorable. He's likable, he's sweet, he's honest, and he may just be the victim in all of this MLB performance-enhancing drug mess. Sure, he may have received injections of human growth hormone and been forced to throw his friend and mentor Roger Clemens under the bus, but isn't he a peach? That's the takeaway that many viewers and fans were left with after the Yankee pitcher's hour-long press conference yesterday, during which he answered questions about his own drug experiences but avoided directly contradicting Clemens's assertion that he "misremembered" a conversation about steroids with the older pitcher. (He did, however, pointedly say that trainer Brian McNamee, who claims to have injected Clemens and Pettitte, "told the truth about me.") New York's sports columnists, on the whole, were wildly impressed with Pettitte's humble, endearing performance — if not entirely sold on his emotional honesty.
• George Vecsey was impressed by Pettitte's reference to biblical lessons on conscience. "[It's] a word one does not hear on a daily basis, particularly in the big-time sports mill." [Times]
• Will Leitch thought the performance was similar to many other vaguely apologetic sports press conferences after past scandals. But he also thought Pettitte was being honest. "He's completely full of bullshit," Leitch wrote. "But we nevertheless agree with him, across the board." [Deadspin]
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