Roger Clemens on Monday held his first press conference since he was named in baseball’s steroid scandal, and angrily denied his former trainer’s claim that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing steroids. A day earlier, the potential Hall of Fame pitcher filed a defamation lawsuit against the trainer, Brian McNamee. “I’m going to go to Congress,” Clemens said, “and I’m going to tell the truth.” (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
Clemens’ “aggressive defense is serving him well in the court of public opinion,” said John Ryan in a San Jose Mercury News blog. “I can’t say I’m totally buying The Rocket,” but at least he’s doing what sluggers Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire wouldn’t do—“fighting for his reputation.”
It’s hard to believe anyone would buy “Fraud-ger’s” story, said Jemele Hill in ESPN.com’s Page Two. If he’s so interested in truth, why didn’t he talk to former senator George Mitchell when he was compiling his big report on steroid use in baseball? And why would McNamee, a former police officer who told the truth about other players, have chosen to lie about “a man many consider to be the best pitcher ever?”
Clemens has pitched “blatant malarkey” before, said Cam Cole in the Vancouver Sun. Like after a 2000 World Series game, when the New York Yankees star claimed that he thought he had thrown a baseball at the New York Mets’ Mike Piazza, although the projectile was actually a piece of a broken bat. But as long as it’s just the word of one man against that of another, it will be impossible to know who’s really telling the truth.
The truth about Clemens gets “more muddled” by the day, said Neil Best in Newsday, and that press conference didn’t help. A taped phone call with McNamee played at the conference was “strange” and “inconclusive,” and a Clemens interview aired Sunday on 60 Minutes was even “less convincing.” One thing’s for sure, though: “Nothing—not even the long, sordid Barry Bonds saga—has produced a central character as compelling as the glowering, angry Rocket.”
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