I feel sorry for Roger Clemens, without doubt the most unfairly targeted man in major-league history.
Imagine walking in his spikes. I couldn't. The misery would never stop. How demeaning it was for him to arrange all those prorated contracts and pitch for four whole months for a measly $18 million.
Those sneaker sweatshops have nothing on Roger Clemens.
Only now, Clemens' world has closed in on him. His former trainer, Brian McNamee, has told Mitchell Report investigators he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens has responded with defiance and a three-fer befitting a superstar: an appearance on "60 Minutes," a news conference with attorney in tow and, of course, a defamation lawsuit.
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Your heart just goes out to poor, misunderstood athletes like Clemens, who always leads with his Hall-of-Fame fastball and intimidates everyone in his world -- sluggers, trainers and anyone who dares to dig in at the plate against him.
Wait a minute. My cell phone is buzzing ... it's Roger Clemens!
RA: Hi Roger. Are you holding up well?
RC: Don't worry about me, scribe, and you know everything we say will be held in confidence. Never mind the fact I just aired my return call to McNamee for all the planet to hear. I even tried to lead him on a little. My attorney thought it was a good idea. After all, it's what friends do.
RA: McNamee sounded like a tortured and tormented man.
RC: Don't expect sympathy from me, pal. Why do you think I sued McNamee instead of heavyweights like Major League Baseball or George Mitchell? I'm supposed to strike out the little guys. Those 354 wins and seven Cy Young awards weren't built on shale. I'll buzz your chin! I'm Roger Clemens! I throw gas! I ...
RA: Chill, Rog. Try a little lidocaine.
RC: Thanks, scribe. Needed that.
RA: I understand your feelings about McNamee, but isn't it more than a coincidence that he allegedly injected you with steroids between 1998 and 2001 and you continued to win through your late 30s? Does the name "Barry Bonds" mean anything to you?
RC: I resent my name being attached to Bonds'. There's no paper trail with me. It's just a he-said-vs.-he-said thing and, besides, I've been more careful than Barry. ... Sorry, bad advice from counsel. Can I retract that sentence? I've chosen to attack this issue on all fronts because, let's face it, no one gives me the benefit of the doubt.
RA: I feel you, friend, but it's foolish to give anyone the benefit of the doubt in today's steroid-infested league.
RC: But I'm different. I've been told I was next to perfect since I was 12. I throw at sluggers' heads and get away with it because I've mostly pitched in a league where I don't have to bat! I dominate! I'm Roger Clemens! I ...
RA: I'm with you, but you must think clearly. How about some B-12?
RC: What would I do without you, buddy? When I throw another bat at Mike Piazza, you'll have my back, right?
RA: Friends are important, but one of yours, Andy Pettitte, is a former teammate and an admitted HGH user, and McNamee trained both of you. Why would NcNamee tell the truth about Pettitte but lie about you?
RC: Andy's situation is separate from mine. Am I the only one who sees the light here?
RA: You also expressed shock that your name made the Mitchell Report list, but your lawyer knew of some of McNamee's allegations eight days before the report was announced. I know there is a reasonable explanation.
RC: You bet there is. My 24-year career has convinced me I'm basically bullet-proof. McNamee even said I could beat a polygraph test and, guess what, he's right! Don't mess with Texas, and don't even think about messing with me! If I find the facts uncomfortable, I toss the facts, because I'm Roger Clemens! I was born to be the bully! I'm ...
RA: Settle down, Roger. You have a date with Congress on Feb. 13. I can't wait until you thumb your nose at those preening politicians. You'll know how to deal with them.
RC: I'm so ready for D.C. I'll blow them away just like I did in the 1990 American League Championship Series when I got chased in Oakland after 38 pitches and ... oops, wrong game. I'll be under control this time. They can't hurt me. I'm well-stocked with Vioxx, which I can take like Skittles. It's easy to testify when you know what you stand for.
RA: What's that?
RC: Steroids is a quick fix. Makes no sense to me.
Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.
For Ron Agostini's blog, go to http://thehive.modbee.com/extrapoints.