Originally written on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 9/20/14

Gone this week was the absurd circus feel of weeks past. The Roger Clemens’ perjury trial just became “Law and Order” serious. The Government’s star witness, Brian McNamee, took the stand.

“Would you agree that whether or not Roger Clemens used steroids depends upon whether you are telling the truth?”

This was 30 minutes into defense attorney Rusty Hardin’s cross-examination of Roger Clemens’ chief accuser. Well, now.
McNamee though never answered. A federal judge cut him off, agreeing with prosecutors. This was perhaps a question better answered by jurors.

By all means though, we are in the midst the trial’s key moment. Brian McNamee is allegedly the only person with first-hand knowledge of Clemens’ use of performance-enhancing drugs (PED).

The importance of the testimony was reflected in the courtroom. The Washington Post described it having “the air of a playoff game.”

Despite the pressure, Brian McNamee held his ground over two hours of questioning. At one point, he challenged the defense lawyer by saying, “You have to ask Roger that.” Tomorrow though should be harder. Hardin is expected to delve into McNamee’s checkered past.

McNamee claimed that he injected Clemens more than a dozen times in the late 1990s with PED. He also claimed that he resumed the injections in 2000 and 2001, when Clemens was pitching for the New York Yankees and McNamee was the club’s assistant strength coach.

Though McNamee testified in great detail about the injections last week, Hardin highlighted inconsistencies in his statements over the years.

“Would you agree with me that over the last four years your testimony and your memory and statements have sort of evolved about what happened?” Hardin asked.

“It’s fair to say my recollections of certain things have gotten better,” McNamee replied, refusing to yield any ground.
McNamee recalled another conversation with Clemens about steroids (circa 2004). McNamee said that Clemens told him: “I want to get really huge. Do you still have that guy?” Clemens was referring to his strength coach’s former steroid supplier, McNamee said.

Note: he never relayed this to federal investigators or former senator George Mitchell’s team, who issued the now well-known lengthy report in 2007 that exposed rampant steroid use in Major League Baseball.

McNamee has testified that he regretted injecting Clemens because it was the wrong thing to do. Since it became public that he cooperated with federal investigators and Mitchell, McNamee said he has struggled to hold down paying jobs.

This opens the door for Hardin to paint McNamee as a man seeking to benefit financially from the star’s downfall. Hardin quizzed the witness about a self-published memoir, a Web site business that never took off and his disposition of memorabilia signed by Clemens. As much as no one likes an alleged cheater, when you put an alleged profiteer up to refute him, one starts to yearn for a simpler time with a clearer morality.

Though he often paused for several seconds before answering questions and seemed confused at times, McNamee did not hesitate to counter-punch.

When Hardin asked McNamee how many shots a ballplayer like Clemens could expect to receive over the course of his career, McNamee responded: “Including the ones I gave him?” Oy.

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