Baseball and Drugs: We Need A Third Witness

Where was Andy Pettitte at the Capitol Hill showdown between Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee?


So which one—Brian McNamee or Roger Clemens—failed, shall we say, to tell the whole truth in the court of baseball?

Consider which one has the most to lose. That's Clemens, the "Rocket," one of the most successful and feared pitchers in the history of the game.

This extraordinary record holder, one otherwise destined for the Hall of Fame, could lose his reputation or perhaps worse—a ticket to the fabled hall in Cooperstown. He would lose endorsements, as if he needed the money.

McNamee could be indicted and tried for lying, either to a congressional committee or federal investigators. He was warned numerous times about being in legal jeopardy if he lied under oath.

But in reality, the 4½-hour hearing before Henry Waxman's investigations committee was missing its most important witness: pitcher Andy Pettitte. He was a close friend and teammate of Clemens's. He told baseball investigators that Clemens admitted to him that he used HGH and steroids.

Clemens said Pettitte had "misheard" or "misremembered" the words of his admission of usage. One wonders whether Clemens would have been so sure of himself if Pettitte or his wife, Laura, who was told of the situation, had been in the hearing room.

The court of public opinion will believe the one they want to believe. Clemens has the upper hand here as an icon of the game, as opposed to his trainer. However, there is unlikely to be any prosecution, since perjury is difficult to establish in court.

Unfortunately, the hearing became a partisan affair with Democrats generally attacking Clemens's version and Republicans generally defending him. Many in the public probably considered it partisan politics as usual on Capitol Hill.

The hearing ended without any real resolution. As for baseball itself, there is strong agreement that the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs is cheating.

More testing of players should move swiftly as a way to ensure the integrity of the game.

Play ball—fairly.