Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pettitte, Yankees forever haunted by Clemens

Leave it to Roger Clemens to ruin a beautiful effort like HOPE week.

His indictment on perjury and other charges cast a terrible pall over the wonderful week of outreach by the New York Yankees. The week that started with baseball players spreading hope to their most disadvantaged fans ended with them fending off questions about their former teammate.

Obviously, Clemens didn’t control the timing of the release of the indictment, but he had a chance to make this issue go away more quietly and stubbornly refused to take it. But the indictment is just more evidence that the Yankees will forever be haunted by their association with Clemens. Remember, they greedily traded for Clemens after they won 125 games and the second World Series championship of their modern dynasty and then brought him back with great fanfare years later.

Of all the Yankees, Andy Pettitte is the player most entangled in the Clemens drama. The two of them used to be thick as thieves. Now they are just brothers in shame, no matter how much Clemens denies using performance-enhancing drugs. It was Pettitte's testimony that has given the most credence to the Rocket's alleged drug use and his subsequent indictment on perjury and other charges. It never made sense that Pettitte would admit to using human growth hormone himself and then “misremember” or falsely accuse his friend of steroids use. Apparently the grand jury didn’t buy that argument any more than the legislators did.

Reporters ran after Pettitte when news of the Clemens indictment broke Thursday, with the Yankee lefty so far not saying much on the topic. But during his Centerstage interview with Michael Kay on the YES Network, Pettitte showed a disturbing yearning for his friendship with Clemens. It was striking to me given that Pettitte probably wouldn't have touched PEDs without his pal's input. Not that I'm absolving Pettitte of the blame. He is a grown man who ultimately made his own choice. But I just think it’s strange that he is still hoping his friendship with Clemens can be repaired when clearly Clemens is still angry at him for telling the truth.

Unfortunately for Pettitte and the Yankees, the Roger Clemens they will forever be linked to is not the friend and co-champion, but the liar, cheater and possible criminal.

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