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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The Strange New Offering from the Clemens Team

Yesterday, in an effort to undercut suggestions that the longevity of Roger Clemens could only have been the product of steroid use, Clemens's agents released the "Roger Clemens Report." According to the New York Times:
His agents, Hendricks Sports Management, issued a 45-page statistical analysis Monday arguing that Clemens prolonged his career by making adjustment in his pitching, not by drug use.

“Clemens’s longevity was due to his ability to adjust his style of pitching as he got older, incorporating his very effective split-finger fastball to offset the decrease in the speed of his regular fastball caused by aging,” the report says.
Leaving aside the fact that it is long on assertion and short on analysis, the report is one of the strangest items to surface in connection with Roidgate 2008. It looks to me like the bulk of the report was recycled from submissions made to teams and salary arbitrators when Clemens sought to negotiate or obtain new contracts. The tables -- comparing Clemens to Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and other "stars" and tracking his performance over time -- are precisely the kind of thing that agents use to negotiate higher salaries for their clients.


Clemens is addressing the issue that nobody wants to discuss, which is that there are reasons (other than steroids and performance enhancing drugs) as to why/how athletes perform better in their later years. For example, in their later years, Bonds and McGwire became much more experienced hitters and both developed remarkable plate discipline skills that substantially reduced their strikeout/at bat ratios, and they also made adjustments in their swing to give them the ability to loft the ball better -- both of which had a tremendous impact on their homerun totals. If Cecil Fielder, when he hit 51 homeruns that year, had developed the plate discipline of Bonds and McGwire, he wouldn't have struck out 1/3 of the time (or more) and would probably currently hold the record for the most homeruns in a single season.

There is no empirical evidence whatsoever (medical or scientific) that steroids enhance performance in baseball. I recall trainers telling us in the early 90s that getting too big would restrict our range of motion and decrease our bat speed (whether that's true or not is anybody's guess). At the recent hearing, Congressman John Yarmouth twice challenged the notion whether these substances do in fact enhance performance. Mitchell said "a lot of it is psychological" as well as "speeding recovery time". Selig's response was that most people and trainers believe that drugs enhance performance in baseball.

The bottom line is that Clemens can't win. Nobody wants to hear Clemens try to defend himself because we've already concluded that he was injected on the basis that somebody said so. And when he tries to defend himself, it offends us. We want him to go live in an isolated cabin in the mountains, grow a beard, and just quit denying that he took them.

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 1/29/2008 9:41 AM  

I agree with Rick. In addition, since this seems like a response to the Mitchell Report, wouldn't Clemens want to refute the evidence presented in it? While that was the attempt in his press conference, this report does not do any service as to refuting any of the McNamee testimony. Clemens's only chance in clearing his name is if he can prove McNamee's testimony false or if McNamee repudiates his accusations.

Blogger cooleystudent333 -- 1/30/2008 1:32 PM  

I too agree with the comments above. Of course there is a correlation between Mark Mcgwire and other home run hitters of the late 90's among steroids to power. But look at the many players who used the drugs and never got anywhere. I believe that it is all too possible that steroids can hurt your longevity, agility, flexibility, and other necessary baseball skills and abilities. That is a fact argued by Clemens and his team.

Anonymous Continuing Legal Education -- 1/31/2008 12:29 PM  

Roger Clemens did participate in salary arbitration in 2005. Clemens asked for $22 million and the Astrons offered $13.5 million. The midpoint was $17.75 million. Clemens signed for $18 million, so he came in above the midpoint.

It is certainly possible that Hendricks Sports Management relied in part on material that they put together for his 2005 contract negotiations.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 1/31/2008 1:25 PM  

The question is not about whether he benefited. This is beside the main issue.

The argument regarding whether HGH/Steroids was a performance enhancer was determined when it was deemed illegal.

The only question is whether Clemens took HGH and/or steroids. McNamee has very specific accounts and the fact that Pettitte corroborated him is very telling.

Clemens' best defense is to attack the specifics of McNamee's accounts. Notice how that's not being done? Nowhere has Clemens refuted any of the specifics, only the broad statement "I did not take HGH/steroids." Not, McNamee never injected me or McNamee was not with me that day.

Blogger qtlaw24 -- 2/01/2008 2:22 PM  

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