From Right Field

As the Cubs set up shop in the Arizona sun this past week, things were heating up in Washington with Roger Clemens, and his former trainer Brian McNamee. As we saw from the daily coverage of the hearings, which sadly reminded me of the circus of a few years ago, there was a lot of finger pointing. Except this time it wasn’t Rafael Palmeiro definitely pointing to members of Congress. Oh where have you gone, Mr. Palmeiro? Hiding south of the border? Like Raffy, I’m afraid we’ll all have the same memories of The Rocket years down the road, as he made a mockery of his career by thinking the general public, and the baseball fan base is really that unintelligent. Then again, we’ve seen Giants’ fans stand by Barry Bonds for years, so maybe we are somewhat mindless sheep.

For those of you that have been living under a rock, here’s the gist. Roger Clemens’ former personal trainer has stated under oath, that he had injected Roger at least sixteen times with HGH and/or anabolic steroids. With a probable Hall of Fame induction in jeopardy, Roger has obviously refuted the allegations. Stating continually that he’s doing this because it’s tarnishing his name, as well as not be true. He has, however, stated that McNamee injected him with vitamin B12 and lidocaine.

Over the past month, I’ve been quietly watching this unfold. I’ve never been a fan of Roger Clemens, but I have always admired any pitcher than can still bring it every fifth day as they reach their late 30’s and into their 40’s. The thought that Roger might have been on the juice never entered my mind, as I had always heard he was one of the hardest workers in the off season. I can barely catch my breath after two trips down the basketball court, and that is my off season regiment for baseball. Guys that work hard in the off season, should be better prepared for the long haul of the baseball season.

I started to lose my faith in Mr. Clemens when he repeatedly stated he only had lidocaine and B12 injections. I just found that too odd. Wouldn’t it be easier to just take a Flintstones vitamin to get your daily dose of B12? As far as I knew B12 didn’t do anything for you anyway, to which it really doesn’t (Source). Lidocaine is strictly used to dull joint pain, and B12 is typically treated for anemia or diet deficiencies. Sounds like a Flintstones chewable would do the trick, Mr. Clemens. Then again, a subsequent article (Source) states HGH doesn’t help athletes much either. It typically increases muslce mass without showing much improvement. It’s when the addition on anabolic steroids is combined with HGH, it provides a punch.

Clemens agents issued a 49 page report comparing him to other pitchers that had late career success (Source). They argue that his success was in fact from the way he adjusted his pitching style, and developed a split-finger. Obviously, as we age we all come up with ways to compensate for abilities we’ve lost along the way. How would the addition of one split-finger fastball suddenly give Clemens a 141-66 record after training with McNamee? Sounds fishy to me. The same report offered up names of Curt Shilling, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, to compare Clemens’ numbers too. While Ryan and Johnson are fine pitchers to compare one self too, I’d keep Mr. Schilling out of this. The rumors of his use of enhancers have been around for years. One positive in the report? Clemens numbers are hardly as good as Ryan’s. His average of inning pitched was below that of Johnson’s 7 1/3, and his strikeouts-per-nine-innings was almost two belong Ryan’s numbers during the same ages.

Of course, by early February, everyone wanted in on this action, and a small group of professors offered insight into the previous report issued by Clemens’ camp (Source). They stated that comparing Clemens’ career with only those pitchers that were successful in the second half of their careers minimized the chance that Clemens numbers would seem out of the ordinary. This group took a much larger control group for their statistical analysis and found Clemens’ numbers to actually be quite out of the ordinary. Clemens career is a basic reversal of a pitcher’s typical career. Whereas most pitchers become better during their mid to late 20’s, and peak around 30, Clemens declines during his twenties and oddly peaks towards his late 30’s and early 40’s. They do, however, point out that there is no proof that any substances played a part in the number crunching.

Whether or not Clemens’ did or did not take anything to further his career, or give him a boost in his performance, is really more a case of he said, he said now. I’ll agree with Clemens on one point. His name is certainly tarnished either way this goes. Unfortunately, I think the case against him is greater now, with Chuck Knoblauch, Andy Petitte and Roger’s own wife confirming McNamee’s allegations, he needs to come clean. It’s over Roger, your image is tarnished either way. Play fair now, because it certainly doesn’t look like you did during your career.

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Been blogging on VFTB since 2006. It's been a long silly run thus far. I still play baseball in the Chicago North Men's Senior Baseball League.