Pardon the pun, but Clemens fouled up

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BRAD SPENCER

TELL WHOMEVER CARES TO KNOW THAT YOU LIED ABOUT INJECTING PERFORMANCING-ENHANCING DRUGS INTO MY ASS, DOE-DOE BRAIN!"

Why didn't seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens bark this to the high heavens when his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who accuses Clemens of using human growth hormone in MLB's Mitchell Report, asked his former employer 21 times during a taped-phone conversation after the scandal broke, "What do you want me to do?"

Instead, Clemens balked. (No pun intended.)

Clemens' lawyers claimed they wanted to make sure their client did not coerce such a statement from McNamee. Then why in Sam Hill was he talking to McNamee in the first place?

Clemens could have defused this situation with a simple "no comment," when asked if McNamee's accusations were true. Instead, he delivered a batting-practice pitch that the media has belted out of the park. (No pun, no intention.) The former pitcher-former for now-also could have insisted to reporters that he would reply to such an accusation one time and one time only, under oath at a congressional hearing. The force-out would have stranded the media and its bashing of Clemens for the time being. (Pun? I don't know anymore.)

Instead, what Clemens did by denying the accusations without any proof or evidence to the contrary, then holding a press conference and playing the aforementioned taped phone call, was to perpetuate this negative windfall. I'm not up on law, but if Clemens says under oath that McNamee injected him only with lidocaine and Vitamin B12, like he told Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, then couldn't someone ask him how he obtained lidocaine, a pain reliever you don't get over the counter and one that's not routinely injected by a personal trainer but a doctor-more likely a dentist-who has prescribed the drug?

To me, Clemens laid down a squeeze bunt that could have him eating dirt at home plate. (What is a pun again?)

The Rocket's best friend, Andy Pettitte, admitted to taking performance enhancers injected by none other than McNamee, and there hasn't been much fallout for the pitcher. Why didn't Clemens just nod at the signal and fire away? (Alex, I'll take ridiculous puns for 200).

Major League Baseball has gathered all the evidence it needs to wave at its player's union when enacting new stringent rules about performance-enhancers and testing for performance-enhancers. Yet with Sammy Sosa's misplaced corked bat, Mark McGwire's tight lip, Raphael Palmeiro's spiked protein drink, Barry Bonds' flaxseed oil, and now Clemens' lidocaine, the league's dignity is still about as flimsy as a house of cards. And Clemens is no longer an ace. (Bad pun, but intended.)

So cancel this congressional committee hearing or whatever it is. It's worthless, especially with a war going on and an election. Just let the millionaires play with their balls-and bats. (That's it, I crossed the line.) The fans will decide whether the game is still fascinating.

Contact: bspencer@wjinc.com

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