Clemens sues McNamee

From the Houston Chronicle:

In a defamation lawsuit filed Sunday night, Roger Clemens claims
Brian McNamee, his longtime trainer and chief accuser of steroid abuse,
was threatened with jail if he didn’t connect the pitcher to steroids.

The lawsuit was filed electronically with the Harris County civil
courts Sunday evening just before CBS locally aired Clemens’ interview
on 60 Minutes.

Prepare for never-ending coverage with Roger Cossack.

40 comments… add one

  • Proud to say I have broken bread with Roger, a very nice man as far as I can tell. He is my favorite Uncle’s cousin.

    SF January 7, 2008, 8:57 am
  • So you’re second cousins, once removed? Or something like that?

    Nick-YF January 7, 2008, 8:58 am
  • Roger Clemens claims Brian McNamee, his longtime trainer and chief accuser of steroid abuse, was threatened with jail if he didn’t connect the pitcher to steroids.
    No, apparently he was threatened with jail time if he lied to the Feds, as is the law and their privilege, at least theoretically.

    SF January 7, 2008, 9:01 am
  • He’s not a blood relative – my Uncle is married to my Dad’s sis.
    I have only met him a couple of times, at Turkey Day festivities. Once was during the OJ trial (that’s where he became something of a household name). Interesting times.

    SF January 7, 2008, 9:05 am
  • I’m not a lawyer, but I have a little familiairity with these matters from my days as a journalist. From a legal standpoint, Clemens’ faces a very difficult battle.
    By suing McNamee, the burden falls on the prosecution to:
    (a) Prove beyond a reasonable doubt that McNamee knowingly lied;
    (b) Demonstrate tangible harm to his reputation;
    (c) Prove that McNamee acted maliciously — i.e., it’s not enough to say that he lied, Clemens has to show that McNamee definitely knew he was lying and intended to harm Clemens.
    Furthermore, as a public figure, the bar is *very* high for defamation suits. Once you become even a minor public figure, getting your reputation slimed is something that goes with the territory.
    From a strategic standpoint, it would have been much smarter for Clemens to bait McNamee into suing *him*. Then these burdens listed above would be on the other side, and all Clemens would have to do is to raise enough doubt to “win” the case — then declare victory.
    It appeared to me that was what Clemens was trying to do — keep upping the ante on his public statements, until McNamee sued, thus situating the burden of proof on the other party.
    Instead, Clemens now has to affirmatively prove his case *and* meet those other conditions, which I think he will have a hard time doing even if he is right.
    My guess is that the pressure has built enough on Clemens to do something that will give a public appearance of confidence in his position that he decided to pull the trigger and act first, rather than wait for McNamee, even though that is a low-percentage gamble in the long run.

    Hudson January 7, 2008, 9:31 am
  • It might also keep him from being forthcoming to congress without penalty – he can point to “pending legal action” to avoid testimony, perhaps?

    SF January 7, 2008, 9:36 am
  • I bet that’s the reason, SF.
    But Hudson’s right. What happens if/when the judge dismisses his suit? Clemens looks even worse. He can easily prove his reputation was besmirched. But how do you prove a negative, as has been pointed out in the past? You can’t.
    And if, as Clemens claims, McNamee lied because he was threatened with jail time otherwise, his beef is with the feds, not with McNamee. An odd filing, all the way around.

    Paul SF January 7, 2008, 9:41 am
  • Quit while you’re behind, Rocket. A jail term awaits.
    I would like to ask a few questions about the joke which was post-strike baseball – the ‘roid era:
    For one; why hasn’t anyone in MLB, especially its busted players, used the tact that ‘roids do not improve ability as much as is assumed? I have less of a problem dealing with drugs in sport when they used to combat physical breakdowns or injury, and am not convinced steroids do much more than perserve health. 162 games, 5 days a week, where one is expected to perform at peak levels is a lot to ask of any athelete, I think. Why don’t the players just fess up and admit drugs almost have to be a part of their training, if they are to perform as often as they do, as well as they do? Besides the obvious, what’s the difference between using myriad legal training gimmicks and HGH?
    Secondly; As Coors field has proven, the composition or treatment of a baseball can markedly improve performance with it. Adding to that, there was a lot of talk back in the late nineties about beefed-up baseballs. So with the blackeye of ’94 am I supposed to believe that Selig did not intentionally beef-up baseballs to get the fans back? Could this be why apparently nobody except Canseco’s bank account cared about steroids? because they were not what drove baseballs over walls at a record pace?
    /random thoughts, I guess, while agonizing with the flu

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 9:49 am
  • RS why do you say Clemens is facing a jail term? I havent seen any thing that would be indictable raised right now. As YF and SF have both said we need to be careful about getting the specifics right when we talk about this issue. Its a HUGE step to go from being accused of using PEDs to facing jail time.

    sam-YF January 7, 2008, 10:20 am
  • I predicted exactly this scenario to a friend two weeks ago. The way law enforcement works, they tell you “Give us a big fish, or you’re going to jail”. Does anyone really think they would have let McNamee go after he named a bunch of nobodies and Pettitte? And once he gave them Pettitte, there would have been immense pressure to “Name Clemens. We know you worked with him for years. Tell us what we want to know, or you’re going to jail.”
    I have no idea what the truth is. But you have to assume McNamee was very reluctant to name Clemens, above everyone else. He certainly wouldn’t have started there. Exactly how the feds got that out of him is very relevant.
    Otherwise, it sucks about our justice system but it’s absolutely true. It is very hard to win a case like this. The laws should put the burden of proof on the accuser not the accused, like in England. Instead you end up with the great prevalence of tabloid “reports” and “journalism”.

    Mike YF January 7, 2008, 10:41 am
  • By the way, and contrary to claims thrown around here by irresponsible “journalists” (see defamation is easy!), Clemens met McNamee in 1998, AFTER he put up a 221 ERA+ in Toronto. So if he needed someone else to inject him, and if he was already using, why did he need McNamee in the first place? McNamee’s testimony makes no sense. Either Roger was already performing at a very high level before “using” or he had someone else’s “help” (where is that person – they could make a ton of money with that “story”) or he’s never used.
    It’s really amazing how easy defamation is.

    Mike YF January 7, 2008, 10:50 am
  • “Why do you say Clemens is facing a jail term”
    Because if he repeats to Congress what he said last night he will be standing alongside bonds, awaiting sentencing. That is, if he accepts Congress’s invite, which he may or may not decide to do.
    I don’t think congress is at all happy about his desire to invalidate the Mitchell report. Could be that’s why they’re calling him to repeat his claims without perjuring himself.

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 11:27 am
  • If this case ever goes to trial, ESPN and the rest of the (tabloid) media will be all over it like stink on sh*t.
    It will be … uh the “Trial of the Century”! Live courthouse updates! A circus-like atmosphere! A special guest appearance/commentary by Marcia Clark!
    Getcha popcorn.

    yf2k January 7, 2008, 11:30 am
  • It will never go to trial. Don’t worry.
    Even if it’s not dismissed or withdrawn before a trial date is set, there is no way either side lets it get that far. They will settle.

    Paul SF January 7, 2008, 11:32 am
  • What’s there to settle? The only thing that would seem to satisfy Clemens is a full retraction or correction from McNamee. Failing that, he’s suing. And since McNamee goes to jail if he significantly changes his testimony, why would he do that unless compelled to?
    Nah, there won’t be a settlement. But the trial at this point is very much in doubt. Still, they only have to convince one judge in the entire system to allow the case to proceed. Then, anyone want to place bets on who a Houston jury would side with? A local hero or a NY drug dealer?

    Mike YF January 7, 2008, 11:39 am
  • Don’t mean to completely derail the post, but just a little aside for some Yankee prospect-dom.
    Joba:
    “Strengths: Scouts chuckle with delight discussing Chamberlain’s raw stuff, and several give him 70 or 80 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for three different pitches. He reached 100 mph with his fastball as a reliever, and more impressively can sit at 96-97 mph when he starts. His fastball command grades at least major league average, if not higher. He also commands two breaking balls—a mid-80s slider with depth and a nasty power curveball in the low 80s. Both are strikeout pitches, and he’s adept at keeping his hand on top of the curve and behind the slider. He even has shown a solid-average changeup. His arm action is clean, and his fierce competitive streak helps give him something extra when he needs it.”
    His curveball really is rather good. If you watched all his appearances, you would see from time to time a pitch that kind of looked like his slider, but only had lateral movement. Hitters really didn’t have a shot. And people say he should stay in the bullpen. Ha!

    AndrewYF January 7, 2008, 11:49 am
  • What trial?
    As far as Clemens testifying before congress; anyone who does not KNOW that the depth of his arrogance could put his ass in the hoosegow has not followed his career very long. Would he outright lie to congress if he thought only a 95% chance of his being caught in a lie existed? Roger? damn straight he would.
    My opinion, of course

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 11:55 am
  • By the way, and contrary to claims thrown around here by irresponsible “journalists” (see defamation is easy!), Clemens met McNamee in 1998, AFTER he put up a 221 ERA+ in Toronto. So if he needed someone else to inject him, and if he was already using, why did he need McNamee in the first place?
    If I recall correctly, in the Mitchell Report McNamee states that Clemens used steroids previously, before coming to him. Why did he then suddenly need McNamee? Roger’s previous source could have dried up for any number of reasons. There are plenty of explanations if you use your imagination ;-)
    But I agree with your main point–it’s a shame that the burden of proof is falling on the accused, not the accuser. Roger has no chance of winning this in court.

    Atheose January 7, 2008, 1:11 pm
  • 1. RE: Jail term: I’m pretty sure that lying to Congress is a jailable offense, though I don’t know the last time this was enforced… Also, calling McNamee on the phone after they were told to testify is pretty odd, potentially bordering on witness tampering.
    2. Settlement. I agree with Paul and others that this is a likely outcome, or at least is the only way that Clemens’ lawsuit makes sense. I don’t think he can win in court, but he might be able to force a settlement that lets everyone claim victory and leaves at least some ambiguity about his “legacy.” Problem is, I’m not sure if the Feds will let that happen. Depending on their agreement with McNamee, they may have leverage to prevent him from making a settlement with Rahjah that would in anyway cast his testimony to them in doubt — thus exposing the trainer to serious legal consequences.
    Clemens wants to get into the Hall, bask in adulation, and be able to keep raking in millions in endorsements/appearances/perks. McNamee’s testimony to the Feds has spoiled that, but I don’t think that can be shown to constitute defamation unless he made this up out of whole cloth.

    Hudson January 7, 2008, 2:00 pm
  • // it’s a shame that the burden of proof is falling on the accused, not the accuser //
    That’s why it’s dumb for Clemens to sue, rather than continuing to bait McNamee into suing *him*, which would reverse that burden.
    In general, the best I can say about Clemens’ handling of this situation is that he seems to be getting very bad advice. His moves thus far:
    * Waiting five days to issue a statement
    * Finally Rreplying via video, without taking questions, thus antagonizing an already hostile media
    * Picking Wallace to interview him, when everyone knew their relationship and his coziness with Steinbrenner
    * Hemming and hawing about lie detector tests, rather than responding directly and affirmatively
    * Filing a lawsuit that is almost surely unwinnable
    For a guy with tens of millions in the bank, he isn’t getting top-notch p.r. and legal advice, imho.

    Hudson January 7, 2008, 2:08 pm
  • (P.S. Not to dignify a cheap comment above, but any reporter who ever writes about more than holiday recipes for any publication with even a small legal department will eventually get briefed on how defamation/slander/libel works. Even if you write non-controversial stuff, a good journalist needs to understand this stuff, because people get so easily offended by what they read, and so often threaten lawsuits. Such threats are often made, but only rarely followed through, and almost never upheld.)

    Hudson January 7, 2008, 2:11 pm
  • I agree with Hudson’s take on Clemens’ moves to this point. He cannot win a libel/defamation suit. McNamee was highly unlikely to win one either.
    Absent the ability to use the “pending legal action” explanation for not testifying before Congress, I don’t understand this filing at all.

    Paul SF January 7, 2008, 2:20 pm
  • // it’s a shame that the burden of proof is falling on the accused, not the accuser //
    This isn’t true. In the lawsuit you guys are talking about ROGER is the accuser, not the accused. He is accusing McNamee of defaming him so of course the burden of proof is on Clemens – the accuser – to show that McNamee not only lied about him but did so knowingly and in doing so harmed his reputation. Clemens does NOT have to prove that he never took steroids – he just has to prove that the shots that McNamee gave him were vitamins and lidocaine and that McNamee knew it.

    soxgirl January 7, 2008, 2:25 pm
  • anyone listening to the press conference? wtf does this mean, is McNamee incriminating himself or is he just sorry he put Roger in the report- I can’t tell.

    no sleep til brooklyn SF January 7, 2008, 5:32 pm
  • I saw a transcript of the call – it sounded to me like McNamee was sorry he put Clemens in the report, not that he was admitting he lied. Wasn’t that phone call illegally recorded though? Or did McNamee agree to have it recorded?

    soxgirl January 7, 2008, 6:10 pm
  • I guess according to Texas law, if one party is in agreement to releasing a taped call they can do so without the other party’s notice or consent. Roger consented and the call could be played.
    (at least that’s I what I heard) I ain’t no lawyer, please correct me if I’m wrong.

    no sleep til brooklyn SF January 7, 2008, 6:23 pm
  • Was McNamee in Texas at the time of the call? Could be an interesting wrinkle.
    I believe you’re correct though, NSTB.

    Paul SF January 7, 2008, 7:19 pm
  • Just read the ESPN article on the tape, doesn’t look good for Clemens to me. When McNamee says he’ll go to jail for Clemens it really reads like he is willing to lie, to recant, just for Roger. It doesn’t read like he has already lied and is willing to recant back to the truth for Roger.

    SF January 7, 2008, 8:10 pm
  • I didnt really read it like that necessarily. It could also be read that he is asking Clemens how he wants him to make it right. To me it feels like we are entering a grey area for about the 10,000th time… Im frankly sick of it all…

    sam-YF January 7, 2008, 8:35 pm
  • When you actually listen to the call you get the feeling like “Mac” really feels bad for what he has done. I don’t necessarily think that means Roger is innocent, but it definitely seems like he knows what he did was wrong. (Inside the parameters of their friendship) I don’t like to buy into the conspiracy theory but could it be possible that “Mac” gave them Roger to save himself?

    John - YF January 7, 2008, 9:25 pm
  • It sounded like they’d both been heavily lawyer-ized and knew boundaries of what to say, even in a sortof casual conversation.
    I don’t think either of them sounded all too convincing of Roger’s alleged steroid use, innocent or otherwise. Congress ought to be fun.

    no sleep til brooklyn January 7, 2008, 9:50 pm
  • NTSB, I agree that it did sound staged, but I think “Mac” seemed very emotional. Roger seemed very even keeled throughout the conversation.
    Again this just makes baseball look bad on a daily basis, regardless of innocence or guilt. What a shame.

    John - YF January 7, 2008, 10:02 pm
  • “…Just read the ESPN article on the tape, doesn’t look good for Clemens to me….”
    huh, sf?, did we see the same tape?…sorry, but i don’t believe for a minute that you “know” clemens…i’ve met/been related to some celebs too, but i hope neither of us is star-struck enough to mention it [irrelevant, yeah?]….any more than the boobs on espn…tim k, phillips, etc….i thought he seemed very credible in the press conference…the “journalist” in me wants him to be “guilty” because it’s a juicier story, but come on…would he go to all this trouble if he weren’t telling the truth?…i know if someone accused me of something i didn’t do, i’d kick their ever-loving caboose from here to kingdom come…consider that when passing judgement…

    dc January 7, 2008, 10:07 pm
  • I think the press conference was a minor victory for Clemens, in the sense that while it won’t change most people’s minds, it does seem to have created some shadow of doubt for others (at least from what I’ve read around the ‘net).
    And while I still think he most probably did juice, I have to admit he surprised me by going against the grain of what everyone said he was going to do by agreeing to testify before Congress and filing a suit against McNamee. That, at the very least, seems to indicate he’s pretty confident there’s no “smoking syringe,” cancelled check, or additional witness(es) is going to turn up down the line somewhere, else he’ll be facing jail time just like Barry.
    But really I’m pretty sick of the whiole thing. Baseball needs to turn the page.
    -Mark

    Mark (YF) January 8, 2008, 12:18 pm
  • If the powers that be really want to cleanse baseball of PEDs and all the superfun witch-hunts that come along later, sack up and make it a pure pain in the ass for players to get it and use it. Olympic style testing and olympic style bannings.
    I doubt the unions will go with anything that tough but imo, it needs to be done. Eliminate the doubt, threaten years of suspension if the player fails a test, make it a standard of excellence.
    As a chick, I’ll never play the game of baseball. It’s important to me that these guys keep the needles out of their asses and keep the game clean. I’m sick of steroids, sick of all the guys taking PEDs, make the rules so tough we eliminate all the doubt.

    no sleep til brooklyn SF January 8, 2008, 12:39 pm
  • no sleep –
    I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, but there’s still plenty of doubt for Olympians and other athletes for sports that test frequently. Cyclists are just about the most tested athletes in the world, yet the sport is still absolutely riddled with dopers.
    The only thing I can see really dampening the use is just to go for the strictest penalities possible – year’s suspension (w/o pay) for first time caught, lifetime for the second, and nullification of the player’s remaining contract. Even then there would still be plenty of cheaters.

    Mark (YF) January 8, 2008, 12:48 pm
  • And add in blood testing with samples stored for ten years.

    Mike YF January 8, 2008, 1:22 pm
  • “….who a Houston jury would side with? A local hero or a NY drug dealer?”
    it looks as though this is what roger is hedging on. during the 60 min interview roger say’s….“Well, I think he’s been buying and movin’ steroids,…”. i guess it’s easier to call someone a drug dealer than what he actually was….one of rogers closest friends.
    “he had someone else’s “help” (where is that person…”
    jason grimsley. you remember, the guy who disappeared from baseball in 96′ to reemerge in NY in 99′ with mcnamee, roger, and andy.

    sf rod January 8, 2008, 3:27 pm
  • Uh, and if you read the newspapers Grimsley has never named Clemens or Pettitte. Really, outstanding work by the LA Times. Modern journalism at its absolute worst and from one of the better newspapers in the country. That’s scary. Just goes to show how hard it is to disprove erroneously printed “facts”. Now if only someone would sue them for utter incompetence.
    By the way, the Feds didn’t go after McNamee because he was one of Roger’s friends. That probably helped, but the dude committed multiple federal crimes and got off free and clear because he talked. Somehow I can’t see that happening with only a bunch of stiffs and Pettitte named.

    Mike YF January 8, 2008, 4:20 pm
  • MikeYF said: “Clemens met McNamee in 1998, AFTER he put up a 221 ERA+ in Toronto. So if he needed someone else to inject him, and if he was already using, why did he need McNamee in the first place?”
    That’s easy, MikeYF. What’s to say Brian McNamee was not the first trainer to help Clemens train harder, longer, faster? There very well could be another trainer who jump-started Clemens from July 1996 to the end of the 1997 season.
    It certainly would account for the sudden “contract year” push for Clemens after a lackluster first half of 1996, as well as finally being in shape to pitch for the Blue Jays after 3+ years of bloated out-of-shape performances for the Red Sox.

    WebmistressEMC January 8, 2008, 9:40 pm

Leave a Comment