We're no closer to the truth about Clemens

Tim Brown

So along comes this Mindy McCready, attempting a comeback before I knew she was ever here, and when she hands over a Miller Lite sixer stuffed with Roger Clemens’ DNA, we should care.

This is, of course, a convenient coincidence, accounts of McCready’s alleged affair with Clemens arriving at the same time as her very private attempts to get her apparently fouled-up life together, which will be carried – ahem – on television.

It is not so convenient for Clemens. He has stomped around and filed a defamation lawsuit and buddied up to congressmen and convinced few people that Brian McNamee, despite his many obvious flaws, isn’t being forthright about the one issue that concerns Clemens. That is, that Clemens parachuted into the steroids era in 1998 in order to extend a career that already was Cooperstown worthy.

But I’m struggling to put the two together, at least as it belongs in the baseball arena; the relationship between Clemens' alleged steroids use and whatever McCready turns out to be.

Clemens had an affair with a country singer, according to the New York Daily News. Therefore, the thinking goes, the defamation case against his accuser and former trainer is weak. Didn’t we already have a pretty good notion of that? As for claims in the petition regarding marital purity, well, it doesn’t address that, exactly. It does claim that McNamee has sullied “Clemens’ good reputation,” and has caused him to suffer “mental anguish, shame, public humiliation and embarrassment.” Presumably, the Daily News report has piled onto that, but what does a private relationship have to do with Clemens’ public reputation, whatever it may be? I’m sure the lawyers will enlighten us.

Now that Clemens is a living, breathing, (sweating) country-western ditty – “Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim’s Getting Better” comes to mind; maybe Mindy could bust it out in episode one – this defamation suit does seem a bit unwieldy. That’ll be up to Clemens and his lawyers to decide, whether they've been fighting for Clemens’ baseball reputation or his personal reputation or both, but maybe it’s time for Roger to put in the same call to Mindy that he put in to his nanny a couple months ago.

I do now wonder if Clemens believes this is a fight worth fighting, that – if what McNamee contends is accurate – he regrets not following the Andy Pettitte path of disclosure and apology and getting on with his life. His denials, his roundabout explanations, his circling of the truth, have only fueled further examination, because there is no way to listen to him and conclude he is innocent. The Daily News wrapped its allegations around the defamation suit filed against McNamee. Congress summoned Clemens in part because his denials could have cast doubt on the entire Mitchell Report. And, a cautionary tale here, it all supposedly started when Clemens dropped his pants for McNamee in the name of a better fastball. Barry Bonds could tell a similar story, though his mistress – so far – has come with a far more interesting story.

As a result of Clemens’ flailing, we’ve learned his wife, Debbie, took HGH. We’ve learned Pettitte’s use of HGH was broader than reported in the Mitchell Report. We’ve had the FBI open an investigation into whether Clemens lied to Congress. We’ve had Clemens insist in his opening statement to Congress that he is nothing if not a family man.

And now a New York tabloid’s front page is shouting, “CLEMENS’ SECRET AFFAIR.”

Frankly, Clemens’ companionship decisions – assuming they’re not steroids pushers – are of no concern to me. The defamation suit has always smelled like a desperate defensive tactic and probably, at this point, regretfully aggressive. But it stands apart from the heart of the matter, which is what Clemens might have done to baseball after all it did for him.

So we continue with the deconstruction of Roger Clemens. Soon, there’ll be little left.

I can only recall a day in Houston, a news conference his lawyer set up to nudge public opinion.

“This is not about records and heroes and numbers,” Clemens said angrily. “I could give a rat’s ass about that.

“I got another asinine question the other day about the Hall of Fame. You think that I played my career because I’m worried about the damn Hall of Fame? I could give a rat’s ass about that, also. If you have a vote and it’s because of this, you keep your vote. I don’t need the Hall of Fame to justify that I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off. And I defy anybody to say I did it by cheating or taking any shortcuts. OK? … I cannot wait to go into the private sector and hopefully never have to answer it again.”

He was right on one thing that day. This is not about records and heroes. Not anymore. He hasn’t thrown a pitch in seven months. Seems the private sector ain’t what it’s cracked up to be, either.

Clemens’ fight, one that always looked too big for even him, looks bigger still.

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