Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Warning: Watershed Moment Ahead

Pettitte's desire to avoid testifying publicly has caused many to conclude that he comes to bury Clemens, not to praise him. I don't think that necessarily follows -- the primary motivation here may be to avoid having his career reduced to a news clip and sound byte, even if his comments about Clemens are ambiguous -- but it certainly suggests that Clemens isn't going to be helped by his former teammate.

All of this prompts us to review, again, how Clemens got to where he is. How his initial impulse to come out strong in defiance of the Mitchell Report led to a situation where, even if he's telling the truth, he's fomenting ridiculous levels of bad press for himself and his family, subjecting himself to Congressional probing, and risking perjury in multiple forums. In thinking how he got here -- how he or his attorneys seemingly forgot to watch for the moment when the line separating the spin zone from the land of real risk was crossed -- I've thought that it has to be all tied up in Clemens' ego. In his competitive drive. In a life spent as the biggest swingin' dick in whatever forum he inhabits, with no one telling him otherwise.

I struggled to put those ideas into words last night and couldn't, coming up with way too many run-on sentences and too much purple prose (shocking, I know). Thankfully, my good friend Ethan Stock is able to cut to the chase better than I am, and managed to break this down in the sharpest of terms. Quoting Ethan's email:

My guess here is:
  • Clemens is guilty;
  • Clemens always knew that McNamee had the goods on him;
  • Clemens is a superstar who believes that his shit doesn’t stink;
  • Clemens has spent his entire life in a superstar jock culture that supports “boys will be boys” and an omerta code of don’t tell on a brother;
  • Clemens really believed that he could just gut this out, and he’d get enough silence, denial, and outright lying from his peers to pull it off;
  • Clemens is turning out to be wrong, because other people are talking to their lawyers, realizing what a freight train this (admittedly out-of-control and jackass) congressional investigation is, and minding their Ps & Qs and actually telling the truth;

Whoops. The flop is out, the turn and the river are coming, and I think Clemens is about to have his bluff called.

Even if you strike the first bullet and assume that Clemens is clean (which I don't, by the way, but some still do) I think that pretty much explains Clemens' seemingly irrational desire to dance with the devil.

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