Roger Clemens was almost called a liar yesterday by a government witness. Andy Pettitte then stepped up to try to prove how much of a liar Clemens is.
Taking an unwelcome detour from his comeback attempt, Pettitte was in a Washington, DC courtroom yesterday testifying against his old pal, who is accused of committing perjury during the notorious Congressional hearings on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Pettitte testified that during an off-season workout in Texas, Clemens told him he used human growth hormone and that it helped him with recover from the grueling exercise regimens Clemens was known to subject his body to, a conversation that set the stage for Pettitte’s own bad decision to use HGH.
This is the conversation Clemens claimed Pettitte “misremembered,” a claim that has been endlessly mocked since Clemens made it. But I doubt that many people believe Clemens’ version more than Pettitte’s recollection of the conversation, especially after a Congressional staffer testified that he had serious questions about the truthfulness of Clemens’ answers in front of the legislature. Of course, what matters most is what the jury believes and we will have to wait to see this trial play out before we know for sure what the jurors are thinking, although they seem obviously bored by the whole process at times.
It seems clear that this was a rather painful and uncomfortable experience for Pettitte, who would surely much rather be focusing on baseball, but was put in this predicament by a stubborn Clemens. But despite his religious upbringing, Pettitte is no saint either. He used HGH to try to recover more quickly from injuries so he could return to his team as soon as possible. While some may consider that noble, Pettitte knew that it was wrong. He testified yesterday that he wished he had never done it and would not find himself in a courtroom instead of on a baseball field if he had not taken HGH. It may be the one thing in his life that Pettitte would do over again if he could.
Whenever Pettitte is ready to return to the big leagues, there is no question that he can help the New York Yankees’ unsteady starting rotation. Even Buck Showalter, a former Yankees manager now running the division rival Baltimore Orioles, thinks Pettitte’s return is great for the Yankees and bad for everyone else. But Pettitte has to get through the extremely unpleasant experience of helping the government put his old friend in prison. I just hope Pettitte can find comfort in the fact that he is telling the truth and the entire situation is out of his hands.