The Mockingbird

Roger Clemens is Insulting Your Intelligence

with 7 comments

You know it, I know it. Posts here at the ‘Bird are pretty tame. I tend to hide behind stats and sarcasm and stay out of the realm of holy cursing fire and rage out of a rather pathetic fear of online ramblings somehow being read by someone who could actually impact my real life. But everyone has to lose it eventually, so I hereby invoke the patron saints of intelligent profanity and if anyone is actually googling my name for a stellar job, they should promptly fuck off.

The latest attempt by Roger Clemens to clear his name is a total motherfucking joke. It’s unbelievable that his legal team or anyone with a critical bone in their body could think that his recently taped conversation (now legal in 2 states!) with Brian McNamee (transcript) does anything to clear his name. I have almost completely come to terms with the fact that a generation or two was juiced, and I don’t really give a shit if you feel you have to minimize your involvement like Pettitte or Roberts. But Clemens has just dug himself deeper into the realm of total fucking scumbag with what he pulls on this tape, and nobody seems to be calling him on it in the slightest. The Globe? Balless. CBC? Quivering. Every major sports outlet is so goddamn ambivalent over this giant flaming piece of shit and the fact that they go out of their way to pluck and piece together innocent out-of-fucking-context quotes from it makes me want to puke.

And to top that off, we’ve got mouth-breathers and pussy sports writers out there spouting “innocent until proven guilty” or “we’ll never know” (Jesus, even Mike Wallace couldn’t ask a pointed question or two), as if anyone who isn’t conclusively convicted by the legal system of something it doesn’t give a rat’s ass about could ever be concluded beyond a reasonable doubt to have broken the rules of their sport.

First, here’s the backstory. McNamee sent Clemens some kind of email, “reaching out” in desperation because his ten-year-old son is in terrible condition, dying of Celiac. Now tell me, what do you think was in that email:

  1. Hey buddy! I know I fucked your career and legacy and your entire life and family and future by picking you out for making bold-faced lies about for no particular reason or personal gain, but could you spare me some money and/or sympathy?
  2. My kid is dying. I didn’t want to do what I did but I had no choice. Please help. I’ll do anything you want me to.

There is just no fucking way if you listen to the entire tape you can believe #1. McNamee never apologizes or tries to explain himself and Clemens never in the slightest asks for it, either. If that was really what had happened it would be the first thing out of either of their mouths and sparks would fucking fly all over the place. But all Brian does is cower and suck up to Clemens, constantly referring to how Roger used to treat McNamee “better than family” and their kids have “nothing to do with this”; hammering away at how destitute he is and that “whatever you can do to help would be great”.

Clemens is dodgy and surprisingly clever in his replies, but when it comes to being a professional, he’s a bad liar. The problem is he doesn’t understand the difference between saying what you want people to think is the truth and acting like you actually would in that situation. It’s like watching punks waiting in an police interrogation room- the guilty pout, hang their heads and solemnly protest their innocence, the innocent act like it’s absurd and are passionate until things are cleared up.

Roger was fully prepared and righteously angry on 60 minutes, but there’s not one iota of that as he’s talking in person to the man who has ruined his life. 21 FUCKING CHANCES to reply to McNamee asking “What do you want me to do??” with totally legitimate outrage, e.g: “Just stop lying, you asshole! Tell them the truth- that you lied and fucked me over.” What’s the problem? That’s not tampering with a witness any more than calling him up and pressing him for information, and it’s how anyone in that situation would legitimately want to react. Instead, the closest Roger comes to questioning McNamee’s sworn-under-penalty-of-motherfucking-jail-time statements is:

“I’m trying to find out why you would tell guys I used steroids.”

Which is almost hilarious in how much it can be read in both ways, whether true or false. And how does McNamee respond? Does he apologize that he was scared? Stupid? Confused? Vindictive? Any reason at all? No: “I understand that. I understand that”.

Of course it’s bloody obvious why Clemens really couldn’t say anything to put McNamee to the test- he would ask him what lies he’s talking about. If you read between the lines a little you’ll see that Clemens never puts him in a situation where he is forced to say something to either clear or bury the Rocket’s name (and there are more than a few times he cuts him off when he seems to be going in that direction) which is obviously what anyone who is truly innocent would be going straight for. All it takes is a simple “Why did you lie about me, Brian?”, but instead we get this this newspeak bullshit:

I mean all the calls we get from the people that we worked with. They’re just going crazy. So. They just can’t believe what’s being said.

Of course, he could of just said: “My friends and business associates actually think I really did steroids. People don’t want me to give speeches for kids any more. Can you imagine what that’s like, what you’ve done, you motherfucker? Why should I have sympathy or want to help you now??” But then McNamee would have gagged on his own tongue or mumbled or actually had to tell Clemens something one way or the other. Instead Roger dances around, cuts him off and deals in vagueness- a safe bet considering McNamee has already indicated that he’s throwing himself at the mercy of the Rocket and isn’t going to say anything incriminating on a cell phone that he has no faith is secure:

And like I said to you…whatever you want to do, obviously, I’m on a cellphone and I can’t…open up to you in the way I want to and I know you can’t.

I admit this rant is kind of pointless by now. If you can read the transcript of the phone conversation out loud with a pure heart and a straight face, and still insist on keeping your cranial lips spread wide open until someone smarter tells you what is safe to put in there, then you’re exactly the sort of mindless, gratefully spoon-fed pablum eater that is the goddamn scourge of this planet. Someday you’ll listen to your wife giggling into the phone and making strange, leading, two-word replies like “then-what!” or “me-too!” whenever you enter the room, and then smile like fucking Santa as your child talks on his cellphone about moving “Charlie” a “Kilometer” over the weekend, all without it tripping off any sort of bells in your dim little brain. For the sentient, here are a few more nails to put in this coffin:

All I did was what I thought was right – and I never thought it was right, but I thought that I had no other choice, put it that way.

Do you hear:

  1. I thought that the right thing to do was make up random bullshit to slander my #1 benefactor of all time, especially when any lies in my testimony would lead to instant jail time and I had zero incentive to add additional names to those I had given up anyway;
  2. I was backed in a corner and did what I had to do to avoid the slammer. Sorry.

I used how you were as a dad to your kids. I tried to be like you. That’s one thing, this is another.

  1. Like I’ve said this entire conversation, I respect you as a person and doing the morally correct thing for our families is totally different from this dirt we’re knee-deep in;
  2. Uhhh…errr….I’ve got nothing here.

The end of the conversation is probably the most obvious. McNamee says: “I told you in the email, I’ll go to jail- what do you want me to do?” Roger is unnerved and says “You’re just being ridiculous,” and then when McNamee yelps, pretends he actually said “this whole thing is ridiculous”. McNamee starts to become increasingly distraught; his voice breaks and he repeatedly asks Clemens for a straight answer to his email, which is now pretty clearly an offer to do whatever he wants: show up at the press conference (!!!), even go to jail Victor Conte style if Roger will help him out because he has nothing left, no money, and nobody else to turn to:

I’m firing the lawyers, my wife is gone, my kids are gone, what do you want me to do?

The man in in tears and breaking down, at which point Roger quickly ends the conversation, spinning it that “I’m glad you told me what you did”.

Look: sports are a joke. Your heroes are human. Athletes are ignorant jerks. Rich people are corrupt and act with a sense of moral entitlement. People get trapped and do stupid, immoral things. You get kind of used to it all after a while. But calling up a desperate friend at his lowest, as his goddamn 10-year-old son is dying, in order to manipulate him on tape in a pathetic attempt to save your image – and then thinking that you’re so much goddamn smarter than the average Joe that nobody is going to be able to see through the game you’re playing over the phone? Sick. That’s all there is to it. Just fucking sick.

Written by halejon

January 8, 2008 at 1:47 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I have to give credit to McNamee for sticking to his guns through this mess. What do you believe, the Clemens complete denial, or at least his “I have no idea what he was injecting into my butt” claim, or does something like this sound slightly more believable?

    And Roger was in no way an abuser of steroids. He never took them through our tough winter workouts. And he never took them in spring training, when the days are longest. He took them in late July, August, and never for more than four to six weeks max … it wasn’t that frequent.

    I think Clemens may genuinely believe in the unfairness of this entire situation, with many other “lesser players” with more low-profile careers, not getting their names dragged through the mud despite being much larger parts of the “steroid culture” at the time:

    Within the culture of what was going on, he was just a small part of it. A lot of guys did it.

    It some warped way, he might feel like he’s not guilty of using steroids. But to say that he didn’t use them at all, or that he had no idea what McNamee was injecting in his body is impossible. Every professional athlete, aside from maybe John Rocker, knows exactly what is getting injected in their bodies. Even the dumbest athlete will think twice before fucking with their meal ticket.

    The other point, of course, is that Clemens’ lawyers were present when that phone conversation was taped, likely coaching the absolute best responses out of Roger, and not leading the conversation anywhere that it could be damaging to their client. And simply considering who released it, it’s obvious why its so ambiguous.


    January 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm

  2. You know, that’s even more proof- quotes like that make it clear that McNamee is not being vindictive at ALL, in fact he idolizes Roger (maybe not so much any more) and doesn’t think that what he did was as bad as a lot of guys.

    Sure I buy the idea that Roger thinks he’s being targeted out of proportion to his involvement. Heck, I’ll even agree- but that’s what happens when you’re the best pitcher of your generation. Another way of putting that butt/flagpole thing is when you’re a king among men you’ve got a higher standard to live up to.

    I think the “I didn’t know what was in the needles!” is just a lawyer’s trick- a little bit of plausible deniability never hurt anyone. Of course it’s an even stupider concept than the flax seed oil (especially because you don’t inject B12 into your butt), but kind of hard to prove conclusively from possession. And of course the courts don’t even care at that point so it’s basically a way of trying to save one miracle magic-bullet explanation that you might be able to repeat in public without perjuring yourself.

    Yah, it would be pretty easy to tell him what not to say before the conversation. Hmm….I just noticed he mentions that he answered his email. So easy. He just mentions that his phone could be tapped in the email, pretty much confirms it in the first 30 seconds of the tape, and then of course McNamee isn’t going to come out and call him a liar or give any details, especially when he’s trying to get something out of him. It’s funny how he just lets Roger keep mentioning the truth and doesn’t really agree or even mention that would be a good thing. He just gets more and more depressed and can’t think of a possible way out.


    January 8, 2008 at 6:57 pm

  3. For Christmas, friends of mine picked me up Ken Burn’s ‘Baseball’ on DVD, so I’ve been devouring it, since I haven’t actually seen it since it aired. With the entire steriod scandal going on, its kind of a funny counterpoint, considering that baseball has been the home of scandal after scandal, and yet people still look for purity in the game.

    Pitchers scuffed the ball, juiced it, cut it to get better results. Parks played with the height of the mound. Baseball outlawed certain pitches. As each element of the previous generation was finally dealt with, a new way to grey area the rules came to the fore. I’m curious what the next step is after steroids for pitching?

    Bryant Telfer

    January 8, 2008 at 8:54 pm

  4. I predict twenty years where pitchers actually replace their throwing arms with bazookas and nobody catches on.


    January 8, 2008 at 9:02 pm

  5. That is SUCH a great series.

    I think the big one is just more doping and continuing to get better at it. There’s no reason why HGH isn’t as rampant right now as steroids used to be, and the science is continuing to advance at an amazing rate (and is a huge industry!). Genetic therapy can’t be far off and that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

    Laser eye surgeries are interesting, too- they already give you better than 20/20 quite often, especially at night. What an incredibly huge advantage for a hitter (Jason Phillips notwithstanding).

    If we want to get all science-fictiony, body modifications aren’t too unrealistic. There’s a bit of a flap in the running world right now about whether a pair of artificial legs give an unfair advantage over normal ones. A spring here, a metal bar there…don’t laugh!


    January 8, 2008 at 9:20 pm

  6. The creepy part about all this is the conversation sounded like a high school couple talking about a rumour that one of them has been unfaithful.

    Regardless, I feel safe in saying that the whole era was juiced. Everybody was complicit (including the media)–either give everyone a mulligan or be consistent in denying honours–including the Frick Award.

    Either (a) the media knew or (b) they media have all the cognitive ability of a kindergarten-dropout lobotomized supermodel smoking a joint.

    Drumroll please–now for the moment of my postings that everybody can’t wait to read: 3! 2! 1!…

    Best Regards



    John Brattain

    January 11, 2008 at 11:41 pm

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