Davidoff: Don't expect bulldog Clemens to back down
Roger Clemens made his final major-league appearance on Oct. 7, 2007. He lasted only 21/3 innings before hobbling off the mound. Phil Hughes relieved him and wound up picking up the win.
Hughes picked up Clemens that day, and now he tries to carry on the seven-time Cy Young Award winner's legacy.
"Not too much physical stuff. More mentality," Hughes said, recalling Clemens' advice to youngsters such as himself, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy that 2007 season. "How to pitch to guys. That bulldog attitude."
Ah, yes, that bulldog attitude. The one that drove Clemens back into the news Thursday. The one that could get him locked up in prison. But it got him this far, and he's clearly not going to shift gears now.
In the wake of the United States Department of Justice's announcement that it was indicting Clemens for obstruction of Congress, making false statements and committing perjury before a congressional committee, he let loose another heater.
"I never took HGH or Steroids [sic]," Clemens wrote on Twitter. "And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments [sic] accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."
Good for Clemens. He wouldn't be such a notorious character - or be involved in this mess in the first place - if he changed direction and gave in now. "He's Roger," Lance Berkman said of his former Astros teammate. "He's Rocket. That's how he is."
Sure, he probably would not be persona non grata in baseball had he owned up to the accusations against him in the Mitchell Report. He'd be long past it now, and the notion of prison time would be laughable.
Yet if he had exhibited such compliance for his whole life, he probably wouldn't have put together his Hall of Fame resume.
Andy Pettitte's life figures to be impacted dramatically by the government's announcement. He'll be a star witness, although by the trial, he might finally, actually be retired. You can understand why he and Clemens no longer have a relationship of any kind. Among the rest of these Yankees, however, you probably won't find much ill will.
"Support him, be there for him," Jorge Posada said. "[We] still are very good friends, so hopefully everything will be all right.''
Let's be honest: The Mitchell Report came to be not because of a sincere desire to investigate baseball's past, but rather as a need to get Congress off baseball's back. Given the shallow way in which Congress operates, it behooved George Mitchell to dig up a big name. According to SI.com, when Mitchell confirmed trainer Brian McNamee's testimony that Clemens had used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, Mitchell hugged McNamee, an odd response by the former Senator.
Clemens served as the chateaubriand in the steak sandwich baseball prepared for Congress. Pettitte was the Velveeta. Rather than agree to be scapegoated, however, Clemens fought his accusers all the way to Capitol Hill. And now to a hearing.
What do we care if he loses? It's not as if we go to prison with him. Even in retirement, Clemens is still providing high entertainment.
He never gave up on an at-bat, and now Clemens isn't giving up on himself. I wouldn't bet against him.