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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Evidence Against Roger Clemens

In light of the redacted names from the Jason Grimsley affidavit hitting the papers, Roger Clemens entire career has been called into question. Clemens now find himself in the middle of the controversy alongside Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

UPDATE: Clemens was heavily implicated in the Mitchell Report. His former trainer, Brian McNamee told investigators that he provided Clemens with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone and personally injected Clemens at least 8 to 10 times according to the Report.

As to whether or not Clemens is actually in the affidavit.

UPDATE: The Grimsley affidavit was unsealed December 19, 2007. It DOES NOT contain Clemens' name. The LA Times story proved to be almost entirely inaccurate, and the Times has said they will run a correction.

1. The LA Times reported that an anonymous source with access to the unedited version of the affidavit, let the newspaper view it, but didn't provide a copy. The Times said a second source who had identified the other players provided additional details about the document. The report named Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons, and Brian Roberts as users of ‘anabolic steroids’ and Clemens and Andy Pettitte as users of ‘performance-enhancing drugs’ according to Grimsley.

2. The same Times report also said it was Clemens and Pettitte’s former strength and conditioning coach, Brian McNamee, who referred Grimsley to a source that supplied him with steroids, human growth hormone, and amphetamines when all three played in New York in 1999 and 2000. McNamee’s inclusion in the document has not really been disputed.

3. ESPN cited three sources when it reported that in June, the Orioles' front office held separate meetings with Tejada, Gibbons and Roberts to inform the players that their names were rumored to be on the affidavit, and that they should all consult their lawyers. This corroborates at least the other half of the Times report. It stands to reason Clemens and Pettitte would have received the same warning.

4. ESPN’s Dan Patrick said he received a fax of the Grimsley affidavit in June from a previously reliable source. The copy had the redacted names written in. Patrick took the information to the ESPN baseball people, but they couldn’t corroborate the information and therefore didn’t publish a story. Now that multiple reports have confirmed Patrick’s source form June, he revealed on his radio show that Clemens was also on his copy of the affidavit.

5. Clemens seemed to know he was mentioned in the affidavit. As mentioned above he was likely warned by MLB officials when he responded with controlled aggression in answering questions about the report. He attacked Grimsley, even threatening to sue him if Clemens loses endorsements, but never really suggests the Times report implicating him is inaccurate in and of itself.

Circumstantial Evidence From Clemens' Career

By age 29 Clemens had won two Cy Young Awards, finishing sixth place or better in the balloting six times in his first seven full seasons. He was one of if not the best pitcher in the game over that span. Things got harder in 1993.

From the Roger Clemens Bio at Baseball Library:

For various reasons, Clemens became merely mortal over the next four seasons (1993-1996). He spent two stints on the DL in 1993 and finished with a losing record for the first time, with a bloated 4.46 ERA. He bounced back somewhat in the strike-shortened 1994 season, ranking second in the league in ERA and strikeouts with five 10-strikeout performances during the season, but the Sox were fading as a power and Clemens failed to get adequate run support. The downward career trend continued in 1995 when he started the season on the DL. He managed to win 10 games, but once again saw his ERA balloon to 4.18.

It seemed on the surface that Clemens' career was ending when he went only 10-13 in 1996. But he was distracted all season by ongoing debates with the front office about whether he would re-sign with the Red Sox and suffered from an appalling lack of run support.

At 33 years old, Clemens started the 1996 season 4-11. Had he continued that pace he would have finished the season 6-17. The effect of a 6-17 season on Clemens ensuing free-agency would have been drastic. Clemens would have seen a lot of one-year deals and likely some two-year deals only because of his reputation. But make no mistake any deal would have been filled with incentives and would likely have been a pay decrease. But after 3 2/3 mediocre seasons Clemens returned to Cy Young form.

Again from the Roger Clemens Bio:
In fact, over the second half of the season, Clemens was as dominant as he was at the turn of the decade. He was 6-2, 2.09 in his last 10 starts, and after the All-Star break struck out 123 men in 111 1/3 innings.

Clemens finished the season 10-13 and on December 13 signed a four-year $40 million free-agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. It was at this time Clemens started working with strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee. Clemens continued his renaissance and dominance winning two consecutive Cy Young awards including the pitching triple crown in 1996 despite poor Blue Jays teams that finished last in the east in 1996 and third in 1997 (but still 26 games out). After the season, Clemens orchestrated a trade to the Yankees bringing along McNamee.

Jason Grimsley played in New York in 1999 and 2000. It was at this time Grimsley is said to have met and been referred to an amphetamine source by McNamee. From that source Grimsley reportedly acquired amphetamines, steroids and human growth hormone. While Grimsley has never referred anyone to that source, he said he was certain that ‘boatloads’ of other players have gotten drugs from the same source.

After years of working with Clemens and Andy Pettitte among others, in 2000 McNamee was hired by the Yankees as their strength and conditioning coach. When his contract was not renewed in 2002 the club gave no explanation. It is speculated the end of his tenure in New York was due to his being questioned in 2001 in connection with an alleged sexual assault in the pool at the Yankee team hotel in St Petersburg, Florida where police said the victim may have ingested GHB, a date-rape drug.

All that being said, Clemens was a smart pitcher with remarkable natural talent who worked very hard to keep in shape. He continued to thrive in 2004 when baseball started tested its players, and again in 2005 and 2006 when the more real threat of positive test results being revealed to the public (and the Hall of Fame voters) came into effect. We may never know, but it doesn’t look good.

 
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