the sports section

Digesting the McNamee-Clemens Testimony Before Congress

Clemens and McNamee

Awwwwwwkward.Photo: Getty Images

If you haven’t been watching today’s drawn-out congressional hearing with former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens and his ex-trainer, Brian McNamee, then you’ve been missing a whole lot of awkwardness, lies, and frustration. As expected, Clemens began his testimony by insisting that he had never been injected with human growth hormone or steroids. Shortly afterward, McNamee (sitting two seats away) maintained that Clemens did. What has followed has been an incredibly tense grilling from cranky congressmen, in which one of the two men must be lying and both seem to be constantly contradicting small elements of their previous stories. One, if not both, will most likely be charged with perjury, according to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Henry Waxman. Below, we’ve summarized what we’ve learned so far during each of the grillings by various members of the committee.

Et Tu, Andy Pettitte?: Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) drops the first bombshell: According to Andy Pettitte’s affidavit, Pettitte talked about HGH with Clemens twice, conversations which Clemens said never happened. Pettitte also talked about the conversations with his wife and McNamee. Clemens’s only explanation is that Pettitte misunderstood or was misremembering, which doesn’t quite fly. Pettitte is Clemens’s best friend; if he was a little unsure about the conversations, he would have said so. This new information about Pettitte is pretty damning, and it’s easy to see why he didn’t want to be in attendance today.
“The Mysterious Case of Jose Canseco’s BBQ”: Tom Davis (R-Virginia) grills McNamee on Jose Canseco’s barbecue, where McNamee claims Clemens first became interested in steroids. Apparently nobody else at the barbecue remembers Clemens being there, and television commentators specifically discussed that Clemens was not there. And yet McNamee vividly remembers seeing Clemens and talking with him. Was it a Clemens doppelgänger?
Most People Remember Conversations Like These: John Tierney (D-Massachusetts) says Clemens can’t reconcile the fact that in his deposition, he said he never talked with McNamee about HGH, while later claiming they had a heated discussion about McNamee injecting his wife with HGH. Clemens is grasping, just repeating the same dodgy nonanswer. Tierney is like Tim Russert right now: He wants a direct response.
Republicans for Clemens?: Dan Burton (R-Indiana) is openly hostile to McNamee, and it’s very entertaining. There seems to be a strange partisan divide here, with Republicans trying to discredit McNamee, and Democrats trying to discredit Clemens. Burton is barely containing his rage: “Gee whiz, are you kidding me? My goodness!” he yells at McNamee at one point, followed shortly after by, “You just lie when it’s convenient for you,” and finally exclaiming, “This is really disgusting.”
Let’s Talk About That Ass of Yours: Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) focuses on an “abscess” on Clemens’s ass, which Clemens claims were from B-12 injections. Lynch produces the opinion of an MRI expert, who says that the abscess was likely a result of Winstrol (steroids) and not B-12. Clemens’s lawyer now wants to speak to the congressman personally, and he’s shot down. Lynch is hell-bent on showing that Clemens’s abscess was not from B-12. Representative Davis now interrupts and wants to counter Lynch’s doctor with his own doctor who says it was from B-12. Again, what is with the Republicans and Democrats taking sides here?
More Interest in Clemens’s Ass: Representative Tom Davis decides Lynch’s medical evidence is “a new definition of lynching.” He asks why Clemens’s butt injury didn’t set off alarms with other people. McNamee replies, with what seems like intentional hilarity, “Nobody else was injecting Clemens in the butt with illegal steroids at the time.” Congress has now spent more time on Clemens’s ass than a pair of stirrup pants.
Oh, Yes, Charles Scheeler Is Testifying Too: Paul Kanjorski (D-Pennsylvania) offers the first questions to Charles Scheeler, who worked on the Mitchell Report. Kanjorski is asking Scheeler an impossible question, whether McNamee is lying about the Canseco barbecue. Isn’t that his job to find out? If we knew who was lying, why would be here? Mitchell reports, you decide.
Like Schilling’s Bloody Sock, But Creepier: John L. Mica (R-Florida) is trying to get to the bottom (ha-ha) of this bloody gauze. Is it legal-vitamin blood or dirty-illegal-steroid blood? Guess what: Clemens thinks the former.
Some Sound Career Advice: Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) wants to know why Clemens didn’t talk to the Mitchell Report investigators. Clemens says that everyone was ignoring Mitchell. Maloney wants to know if Clemens has fired his agents for not telling him to cooperate.
The Never-Ending Investigation: Mark Souder (R-Indiana) wants to know more about a statement made about David Cone, former pitcher, and player union rep, that basically the owners were covering up steroid use in baseball. Souder says maybe we should have another investigation into that (yeah, that’s just what we need). He says McNamee’s behavior reminds him of a drug dealer … but possibly a credible drug dealer.
Cue Irrelevant Inspirational Story: Some question from William Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) launches Roger into a Ragged Dick story of coming from humble beginnings and the hardships he’s overcome. “Somebody’s trying to break my spirit in this room. They’re not gonna break my spirit,” he says. Finally, some baseball: Clay wants to know what uniform Clemens will wear into the Hall of Fame. And some humor: Clemens gamely pretends he didn’t hear the question. Clay also wonders whether McNamee is getting a deal.
But What About the NANNY?: Henry Waxman (D-California) returns to the now-legendary Canseco party. Since McNamee has said Clemens’s nanny was there, Waxman says they tried to contact her but was given the cold shoulder. Finally, when they contacted her, the nanny says Clemens was at Canseco’s house. Canseco’s crib is starting to look like the Bermuda Triangle. Waxman is now kind of implying that Clemens had tried to intimidate the nanny. Clemens’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, bolts out of his seat. He’s angry, but we know he and Waxman have some bad blood. Waxman is now trying to control Clemens’s lawyers, who actually aren’t supposed to speak. “This is nothing but innuendo,” one claims.
Channeling St. Peter: Hey, look, the Washington, D.C., delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) actually does stuff! She’s up there just like a real congressman! Norton wants to know about Clemens’s friendship with McNamee before all these shenanigans began. She ends by saying that, kind of strangely, she’s sure Clemens is going to heaven. Now jail, that might be another story.

We’ll update more as this thing drags on, if anything serious changed, but right now we’re wondering two things: Who is lying? Whoever it is either somehow feels confident that there will never be enough evidence to prosecute him or he’s just stupid and hasn’t really thought this through. The other is, aren’t there better ways for Congress to spend its time and taxpayer money? The economy is tanking, the ice caps are melting, and we still don’t have health care. Get busy! —Dan Amira

Update: The questioning of McNamee’s credibility continues as Representative Davis tries to further discredit McNamee by bringing up his “doctorate” in behavioral sciences from a diploma mill. Representative Foxx asks whether he plans to write a book or otherwise make money from this. Representative Shays tries to get him to admit he’s a drug dealer. Representative Issa climbs aboard his high horse and concurs, and now the righteousness is really starting to flow. Um, didn’t Roger Clemens take the drugs? He’s not exactly an impressionable young child. If McNamee is a dirty drug dealer, then Clemens deserves as much scorn. Representative Waxman makes this point. Also, Clemens got tripped up because he’s never heard of a “vegan.” That’s okay, it can be tricky.

Update 2: It’s finally over. In his closing statement, Representative Waxman had to slam the gavel and shout down Clemens after he interrupted him to defend himself. He also apologized to McNamee for what he perceived to be unfair insults against him by fellow congressmen. Waxman also commented how this is a bipartisan issue, but obviously it’s not. Republicans nearly fell uniformly in line behind Clemens, and Democrats behind McNamee, for the most part. Nothing was solved today, but experts are saying further investigation of Clemens is likely. We eagerly await the next chapter in this intriguing (and puzzlingly government-related) baseball saga.

Digesting the McNamee-Clemens Testimony Before Congress