Monday, January 7, 2008

Clemens Is Doing Everything He's Supposed To, So Why Don't I Believe Him?

This Clemens thing is getting awfully dicey, what with the lawsuit and possible second lawsuit and Congressional hearings and now the 17 minutes of otherwordly conversation between Clemens and McNamee. What the hell was the deal with that phone call. That was one of the weirdest things I've ever heard. It sounded like a teenage break up call with all the dead air and the "I don't knows" and the deep breaths....:

"Hey ...aaaaahh, I just don't know. I don't know. What do you want me to do...?"

"....I don't know. This... just...(sigh) I don't know... it doesn't feel right..."

"....what do you want me to do? I'm sorry... I don't know what to do...?"

"....aaaah... I'm just, not... I'm not happy... God....(deep breath) this sucks..."

"....yeah, I know.... is there anything I can do... I mean... what can I do...?"

"I just think... God this is hard... it's been so hard recently..."

"I know.... I'm sorry...."

"I think... maybe... I don't know... maybe we should see other people..."
And while it remains to be seen whether that little stunt hurt or helped Clemens, what's gotta most frustrating to Clemens defenders and most of all to Clemens himself is that none of this seems to be helping him. Short of McNamee coming out and saying he was lying his face off, I don't think there's anything Clemens can do to clear his name.

If you remember a couple weeks ago, I was one of the folks who essentially felt that Clemens needed to come out stronger and sue McNamee or else he was tacitly admitting his guilt to everyone. I never thought in a million years he'd go through with it because he has so much to lose. I mean his entire reputation will be on trial in that case from every white lie he's ever told about the tooth fairy to every illicit PED he's every injected into his blood. Unless Clemens can provide hard evidence that McNamee is full of shit, he'll almost have to take the stand and given that his credibility is the only thing he'll have to base his claim on, that credibility will be assaulted with absolutely no regard for his or his family's wellbeing. It's an awfully high price to pay unless he is absolutely innocent of all the claims McNamee says he is, and even if he wins he won't actually win shit because McNamee is judgment proof and people still won't believe Clemens. So I give him a ton of credit for doing it.... but I still just don't buy it.

You see, in times like these I fall back on the tenant of Occam's razor. I've used this one before but it's a good principle to fall back on. The basic principle is this: "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." In this instant, that rules out Clemens long-winded explanation. You see when Clemens was accused and Clemens' butt-buddy Pettitte came out and admitted that McNamee shot shit in his ass and others came out and said that report was true, the report gained immediate credence. Immediately it at least became very plausible that McNamee's story added up. And when Clemens first came out and said McNamee didn't give him anything and then he sort of changed his tune to say that he did give him shots but they were B-12 and lidocaine and then we learned that lidocaine is effectively a local anesthetic that doesn't get shot into your ass unless you have ass pain and then we heard the weird conversation where Clemens repeatedly confronted McNamee about "lying" and McNamee never waivered or offered that he wasn't telling the truth and instead only offered to console Clemens for all the bullshit that was going on around them, that story became more complex. In terms of Occam's Razor, you either believe the simple story that this trainer was juicing up two aging pitchers who worked out closely together, or you believed that the trainer was telling the truth about everyone else in the report but was lying Clemens. And you also believe that an aging pitcher instead got better due to a fiery passion for greatness while his workout partner was getting shot in the ass with PEDs and that he was innocently oblivious of these ass shots even though they spent every waking hour together and even though Clemens introduced McNamee to Pettitte. That explanation is not very simple. But that's not all. Aside from the denials I implored him to make, Clemens is acting like a guilty person.

In a classic guilty guy maneuver, Clemens is using the "if I really wanted to do 'X crime,' why would I be so stupid as to do 'Y activity.'" This is classic. I think they used this defense with OJ. "If OJ was guilty, why would he run away in his Bronco with Al Cowlings? Wouldn't that make it seem as though he were more guilty? In reality, he was just scared. A guilty criminal would never do something so publicly dangerous to his case..." That's an old TV defense attorney trick where you try to get your guy off with what's effectively the "do you really think he's that stupid?" defense. Clemens used this line of reasoning when he asked Mike Wallace why he didn't keep using it the drugs if they were so great or why didn't he breakdown physically and have his tendons fall off and ears grow out of his forehead. He basically suggested that if it was working, why didn't he continue to use them? He also made it seem as though when you inject PEDs into you, the immediate effect is that your limbs fall off. That seems a little counter to the "E" in the "PED" acronym (perfomance "enhancing" drugs). I really didn't get where he was going with that other than to make it seem as though he doesn't believe they have any positive benefit and also to setup a secondary defense that even if he did take them, he doesn't think they have any positive effect. Whatever the effect, I just found him entirely unbelievable. And that's what frustrates me most.

If you read back to my earlier postearlier post on the subject, you'll note that I wasn't prepared to be excited to hear any of the names in the Mitchell Report though I understand the necessity of reporting the names. I feel badly that Clemens got caught up in this even though I dislike him more than just about any player in the game. If he is innocent, I feel even more badly for him. I'm not sure there's anyway to clear his name unless McNamee recants on his deathbed or something. But if he is innocent, he's got an awful weird way of showing it. He's using some bizarre logic and his conversation with McNamee was so weird that at the moment I was about ready to give him the benefit of the doubt with the defamation suit and all, I found myself feeling more comfortable with my earlier gut feeling that Clemens was guilty. McNamee was distraught in that conversation and apologetic about the situation he put Clemens in but he never for a second considered going back on what he said and didn't suggest in anyway that what he said was false. But what I will say for Clemens is that he is going to awfully extreme measures to clear his name, and that in and of itself would seem to indicate just how innocent he at least feels he is, whether it's just that he's convinced himself of his innocence or not remains to be seen (if it will be seen at all).

At the end of the day, I find this situation very unsatisfying. It would be a terrible shame if Clemens was innocent here and had never done shit. In most situations like this I usually err on the side of caution and hold out hope the guy will be exonerated. For some reason I can't bring myself to do it in this situation. Maybe it's my bias against Roger for his post-Boston resurgence after letting himself go at the end of his Sox tenure. Or maybe it's because Roger's claim sounds so ridiculously similar to everyone else who has ever been accused of anything. I guess I fall back on old Occam (the name is actually spelled "Ockham" but has been bastardized over the years) and his fabulous razor. All things being equal, my money's on Occam over a lying sack of shit.

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