New York Daily News
Sunday, January 6th 2008, 4:00 AM
NYDN Backpage, January 5th
Roger Clemens could always pitch his way out of it, even if he had to finally throw one at somebody's head the way he did with Mike Piazza. Clemens always had the power because he was the big guy with the baseball in his right hand. He was the one with the fastball. It doesn't work that way anymore. Now Congress has the power. It is why Clemens is in a bind.
Smart people thought from the start that Clemens was getting terrible legal advice, whether it was coming from a Texas magpie like Rusty Hardin, or from Clemens' longtime agents, the Hendricks brothers. They thought that if Clemens kept talking and talking, he was going to talk his way in front of Congress.
Now that is exactly what has happened.
It's like he's daring us, they kept saying in Washington. So now the dare is accepted, now comes the invitation for Clemens to go there and talk to Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Tom Davis (though Davis was originally the guy who said he didn't want to call ballplayers to testify at the new baseball drug hearings) that is like a fastball heading at Clemens' helmet. Piazza knows the feeling better than anybody, and how the tables have turned on Clemens.
If Clemens goes to Washington and takes the Fifth Amendment, says he can't answer questions about drug use because he could incriminate himself, then he all but admits that Brian McNamee, his former trainer, was telling the truth about injecting Clemens with testosterone back in the day.
Already people look at Clemens as the Barry Bonds of pitchers. Now he could walk out of the room like Mark McGwire, and start wondering if Hall of Fame voters will be more forgiving with him someday than they were with McGwire last year and might be again this year.
If Clemens is telling the truth, he's fine. If he's not, and continues to tell this nuanced story about what he did or didn't take - if Congress thinks he's lied to them - then he could prompt a congressional investigation that is much more invasive than Sen. George Mitchell's investigation. Because you better believe Congress will have the subpoena power that Mitchell did not.
Then the threat of a defamation lawsuit from McNamee becomes the least of his problems, and if Clemens doesn't believe that, he should ask Ms. Marion Jones.
There is a television event tonight on "60 Minutes" with Mike Wallace, a show brokered by Clemens' side. It will be a good show and a good get. But it is not the best show or the main event, because that comes in front of Congress in 10 days if Clemens shows up.
By then, Clemens will have done an idiotic video on his own Web site that ended up on YouTube for the world to see, appeared on "60 Minutes," and held a press conference. Talking and talking and talking, all the way to the McGwire seat.
Maybe he better rub Babe Ruth's monument for luck the way he used to before he would go out and throw those amazing fastballs for the Yankees even as he kept getting older.
Maybe after that he can explain why if he has been "slandered" - as the magpie Hardin says - why McNamee is the one talking about a defamation suit and not Roger Clemens himself. But then, where is the same kind of suit from Bonds against Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who wrote "Game of Shadows"?
Remember, Clemens said this on YouTube:
"I did not provide Brian McNamee with any drugs to inject into my body."
Tonight he will tell Mike Wallace, apparently with a straight face, that he did let Brian McNamee inject him with a cocktail of B-12 and Lidocaine, even though that means McNamee would not only have been practicing medicine without a license, he would have been shooting up Clemens in the butt for sore arm joints.
"Lidocaine is for ligaments or tendons or pain areas, to numb them," Dr. Lewis Maraham, whose business is sports medicine, said Saturday. "It would not be shot into somebody's butt, because there is no systemic effect. You need a prescription for it, but no legitimate doctor gives it to patients to inject or have their friends inject."
B-12? It has long been a code for steroids in baseball. So now Clemens is using everybody's defense at once, Floyd Landis' and Rafael Palmeiro's and Bonds'. Bonds thought it was flaxseed oil and Roger thought it was B-12! The trainer did it!
Rusty Hardin has called Brian McNamee "a troubled and unreliable witness." McNamee did his talking to George Mitchell with feds in the room. Clemens wouldn't talk to Mitchell, but thinks he can take his case to the public.
"Roger took bunches of shots over his career, much the way racehorses do, unfortunately," Rusty Hardin says now.
Somehow between YouTube and McNamee getting a defamation lawyer like Richard Emery, Hardin and Clemens both seem to remember the kind of injections he said he never got two weeks ago.
So who looks like the unreliable witness now?
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You know who I do think is going to get a lot chattier real soon?
Because, let's face it, it's not like he doesn't have a lot more ‘splainin' to do.