Young Rocket, just after his 20 K gameIn this week’s Metro column, I note the ignominious end of Roger Clemens’ storied career. A virtuosic performance has worthy of the big screen has rapidly degenerated into a tawdry television drama. Two thumbs way down.

And though much ink and many pixels have been devoted to whether or not Clemens used steroids, whether he “seems guilty,” the PR of filing a lawsuit, what that tape was all about, and how Andy Pettitte must feel about all of this, it’s basically all been speculation. Leave it to Baseball Prospectus to actually look at the particulars of his lawsuit.

This is the article I’ve been waiting to read. After all, the Mitchell Report only had teeth because of the BALCO trial. By filing a lawsuit, could Roger Clemens be opening up a whole new can of worms? I suppose that depends on the particulars of the case. From BP writer Derek Jacques:

A claim of defamation (usually broken down into slander for spoken statements and libel for statements made in writing) accuses someone of Roger Clemens trains with Brian McNamee, who revived his career.saying or writing something untruthful that is then “published” to a third party, for the purpose of injuring the reputation of the person making the claim. Because a statement can’t be defamatory if it’s true, the truth of the allegations McNamee made against Clemens is the main issue of the suit. The question is simply whether or not McNamee injected Clemens with steroids and HGH in 1998, 2000, and 2001.


Defamation is a notoriously hard case to prove. In this situation, the allegations are all about the actions of two men alone in a room together with no other Clemens reaches his 300th win, 5 years after he allegedly started juicing.witnesses, and likely no physical or documentary evidence to connect or divorce them from what McNamee says they were doing. Clemens will face an uphill climb making his case, both because he bears the burden of proof and because he has to prove a negative—that an event that McNamee doesn’t tie to a specific date and time didn’t happen.

Clemens lamented during his 60 Minutes interview that people were treating him as “guilty before innocent,” instead of innocent until proven guilty. Ironically, filing this lawsuit puts the burden of proof right where he didn’t want it: on him.

Clemens pleads his case on 60 Minutes, after filing a defamation suit against McNamee.And for those who were hoping that the Mitchell Report would close the door on the steroids era and let our beloved sport heal, the Clemens lawsuit effectively crushes those dreams:

Before this matter reaches trial, there would likely be months, perhaps years, of preparation, discovery, and depositions. If you give skilled litigators enough time to dig through someone’s life and financial records, all sorts of interesting and unexpected things can happen.

In other words, yes, the seal has been broken on a new can of worms. The only remaining question: is it a can of harmless earthworms, a can of annoying ringworms, or a can of fearsome Mongolian Death Worms?

11 Responses to “Roger Clemens: The Lifetime Original Movie”

  1. It’s so fun watching Ed Wade pull off these moves for another team now, after having watched him to it to the Phillies for so many years. There’s something wrong with the guy, and it might be masochism.

    As fluky as the D-Backs were last season, Haren might be good enough to bring them right back to 90 or so wins, assuming that a few of the extra bounces in the D-Backs’ favor last season even out and go to their opponents. If the D-Backs do get ridiculously lucky again, it will be fun watching them near 100 wins.

    They’re really the only true competition I see for the Phillies in the National League. I don’t buy the Rockies again, the Cubs will win the NL Central by default (because everyone else is bad), not because they’re good. And the Mets and Braves will be lucky to hit 85 wins.

    Josh Byrnes has earned some pretty high marks in his short tenure as a GM. I wonder how much or how little he uses Sabermetrics. Is he a new-school guy like Theo Epstein (who is responsible for two World Series since hiring Bill James)?

  2. It’s nice to finally read someone questioning Beane. This doesn’t seem like a deal where equal value was exchanged. I still can’t understand why he wanted to move Haren in the first place as he’s locked in at a reasonable price for 3 years, this seems like the kind of guy you build your team around. I’m sure people will come to Beane’s defense by saying wait until you see what these prospects turn into. The D-Backs could afford to give up the prospects for a proven starter because they already have so many good young players on their roster. I thought this was the deal that would put Arizona in the driver’s seat to win the NL this season until I saw they dealt Valverde. That guy was integral to their success this past year because of the fact that they did not score a lot of runs. Many of his saves were in one run ball games. You may say the save is an overvalued stat but outs 25, 26, & 27 are the hardest to get. Rarely do you see a team win the World Series without a guy that is a lock down closer. If Qualls had been capable of closing, Houston would have moved him into that role, he wasn’t able to fill that void on their team over the last 2 seasons. I don’t understand bolstering your rotation and then weakening the end of your bullpen. Set-up men don’t always have the same success when you move them into the closer role.

  3. Melissa, I understand your point about Valverde, and I agree that while Saves are overrated, it’s also not possible to convert just *any* good middle reliever into a closer.

    However, that said, I still think this was a great trade for the D-Backs. Arbitrators love shiny stats like saves, so Valverde is due for a huge raise this offseason. Also, Valverde has a long history of shoulder troubles, and some pretty sucky seasons in his past, such as 2006, when his ERA was nearly 6.00, so I don’t feel like he is necessarily a sure-bet, lock-down closer going forward.

    Byrnes did a good job of selling Valverde when his value was at the absolute highest it has ever been. Also, I don’t think Byrnes has any intention of making Chad Qualls the closer. I think he is going to turn to one of his other young arms and give them a shot. But Qualls has great value as a reliable setup man.

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Bill B, funny you would mention Theo in connection with Byrnes, as Byrnes worked under Theo for the Red Sox through 2005! And of course, Theo and Kevin Towers of the Padres were both mentored by Larry Lucchino. That’s not a bad record for Larry, considering how each of those three teams finished last year.

  5. No doubt the D-Backs have to be considered the National League front-runner in ’08. Webb and Haren is a lethal duo and all those young position players will be a year older, with the experience of having already won the division and a playoff series.

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    Sarah your post just convinces me even more that Clemens’s strategy is going to be to try to force McNamee into a settlement.

    I can’t imagine why he would possible want to go through years of trial and have all his secrets aired in the court of public opinion, even more than they already have been.

  7. Sarah Green says:

    Yes, it is a high-stakes game of chicken. But McNamee has so much at stake as well. Is he really going to go to jail for Clemens? Is he really going to abandon his children, one of whom is extremely sick? Is he really going to completely torpedo his own good name?

  8. Paul Moro says:

    Well, McNamee technically no longer has “a good name” either. Better than Clemens, I suppose, but it ain’t good.

    Nick, McNamee’s broke supposedly. There’s nothing he can give up.

    There’s a part of me that thinks this could actually be a good thing in the long run. Personally, I’m still a bit skeptical of the whole veracity of the Mitchell Report. That’s not to say that I think Clemens is innocent. But even if a shadow of doubt gets cast as to its credibility, it may force MLB to make additional moves to clean up. I’d love to see the sport “move on” after the Mitchell Report. But since I’m made up of 64% cynic (12% jerk, 23% baseball fan, 5% gumdrops, and 7% mathematical dimwit), I think it’s going to get worse before it actually CAN get better.

  9. Sarah Green says:

    Paul it’s already gotten pretty bad! And yes, I should have said “what’s left of” his own good name with regards to McNamee.

    However, I fail to follow your logic here. If Clemens succeeds and casts doubt on the Mitchell report, MLB will have to make additional moves to clean up its act? How so? And why are you skeptical about the report’s veracity?

  10. Paul Moro says:

    Yeah, I did a piss-poor job explaining myself there. Take 2:

    Yes, it’s bad. But I really think it’s actually going to get worse.

    I’m skeptical about the Mitchell Report for reasons that aren’t unique to me. The Commission couldn’t get current players to talk. Mitchell essentially ended up with very little to work with. As a result, there was no way that the Report could even begin to accurately portray what was/is/will be going on.

    So, at least in my mind, the Mitchell Report was very much incomplete. But it was enough to make it seem to the general public that MLB actually gives a rat’s ass about this. And that’s what they want. They don’t want a full expose. They wanted enough to win a PR war. And so far, that’s what they’ve gotten. Look at the fact that MLB donated $3m to PED-research. Sounds like a lot, but consider that Kip Wells will be making more than that in 2008. It’s enough to make it look like they care.

    I just think there’s so much more to this than we know. And while Clemens is being a total idiot (unsurprisingly), this gives us a chance to potentially learn more about how the Mitchell Report was created. If it turns out that certain unfair liberties were taken by the Commission, it no longer becomes something that MLB can hide from. Ergo, they may have actually start taking this thing REALLY seriously.

    Again, I’m a total cynic (actually, to be consistent, 64% cynic). I don’t expect many people to agree.

  11. Sarah Green says:

    Oh no, Paul, now that you’ve explained further, I completely agree. I thought you were saying you didn’t believe the report. I concur that the report is woefully incomplete.

    WOOT we agree on something! Let’s mark this day on our calendars.

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