Press Row: Clemens and Congress

Press Row: Clemens and Congress

Sports pages around the country are buzzing with reaction to Roger Clemens' and Brian McNamee's appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Here are some outside takes on the hearing:

Duff Wilson: "For Clemens, no joy found in testimony"
Selena Roberts: "Whether on mound or Hill, Clemens is the same man"
Tim Kawakami: "Clemens, unlike Bonds, steps forward and trips over his ego"
Jason Whitlock: "Hearing showed inefficiency of politics"
A.J. Perez: "Playing role of minority party, Republicans easier on Clemens"
Jerry Brewer: "Clemens should try to misremember this day"
Lance Pugmire: "Waxman has options but won't commit on Clemens"
Mike Lupica: "Maryland rep holds Clemens' cleats to the fire"
Ken Davidoff: "Texas-sized meltdown for arrogant Clemens"
Mitch Albom: "The Clemens/McNamee verdict: Both can't be right"
Other stories about the hearing

Duff Wilson: "For Clemens, no joy found in testimony"
Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee kept a tight grip on their contradictory accounts of illegal drug use in a dramatic showdown Wednesday before a Congressional panel whose 40 Democrats and Republicans seemed to line up and take sides on a partisan basis.

In a four-hour hearing in which Mr. Clemens and Mr. McNamee shared the same table but never seemed to directly look at each other, Mr. Clemens continued to insist, under sometimes strenuous questioning, that Mr. McNamee never injected him with steroids and human growth hormone, as Mr. McNamee maintains.
-- The New York Times

Selena Roberts: "Whether on mound or Hill, Clemens is the same man"
Along with other testimony on Wednesday, Roger Clemens swore on his good name that his identity was not stitched together by baseball seams.

"I cherish my Major League Baseball experience," Clemens said in his opening statement of a theatrical congressional hearing on steroids, "but I have always said that baseball is what I do; it is not who I am."

He was unbelievable -- again. This is a father who named all four sons -- Koby, Kory, Kacy and Kody - in honor of a strikeout symbol. He calls them the K Boys.

Clemens cannot escape baseball-to-life parallels when he chooses to remain a 40-something superstar whose Rosin bag attachment has turned every spring into a retirement board game of Clue: Will he do it in Houston, with the Astros; will he do it in New York, as a Yankee; will he do it in Boston, with the Red Sox?
-- Sports Illustrated

Tim Kawakami: "Clemens, unlike Bonds, steps forward and trips over his ego"
There was a star chamber set up on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and Roger Clemens was sure he'd be the star of stars. He thought he'd stride into the hearing room, unfurl his tough Texas charm, stare down his small nemesis, and then watch the tide of public opinion come rolling back to him.

Clemens probably never imagined he could lose this steroid gambit. He's the star! "A titan of the game," as the disturbing Dan Burton, a congressman from Indiana, piously described Clemens.

But Clemens didn't just lose during the five hours of drama and dirge Wednesday. He was annihilated -- by arrogance and the trace remnants of his own probable lies and provable failures.

I don't know what's left for Clemens, though it's very possible he's headed for a trip through the federal court system on perjury charges, in line behind our own Barry Bonds.
-- San Jose Mercury News

Jason Whitlock: "Hearing showed inefficiency of politics"
Mystery solved. If you wondered why our government accomplishes little of substance, the five-hour Roger Clemens congressional hearing answered your question.

Nothing undermines a search for the truth as effectively and decisively as politics.

Let's move beyond the ridiculousness of elected officials wasting a day trying to decipher Brain McNamee's and Roger Clemens' he-said-he-said over performance-enhancing drugs. It was what it was, a well-orchestrated publicity stunt put on for the immoral edification of sports writers, talk-show hosts, broadcasters and ESPN.

No, let's instead examine how party politics and the dishonesty of our elected officials compromise our government's ability to arrive at even the most simple, obvious truth.
-- FoxSports.com

A.J. Perez: "Playing role of minority party, Republicans easier on Clemens"
Seeking a favorable review of Roger Clemens' testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday? Just search for an "R" after the member's name.

"I thought Mr. Clemens made a very credible presentation here today," said Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. "I have no reason to doubt him."

Members on the other side of the aisle did. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., said he "wasn't especially impressed" by Clemens.

While there was some crossover, Republicans almost uniformly hammered Clemens' accuser, his former trainer Brian McNamee, while Democrats saved their sharpest questions for Clemens.
-- USA Today

Jerry Brewer: "Clemens should try to misremember this day"
Unless I'm misremembering, the greatest pitcher of this era sat before Congress and all of America on Wednesday and answered questions about a "palpable mass" on his buttock.

Undeniably, Roger Clemens has had more dignified days.

The Rocket, supposedly a great baseball phenomenon, approached the fight of his life the only way he knows. He competed like crazy, hurled his nastiest stuff, attacked, attacked, attacked, all the way to the end, when a congressman banged his gavel to hush him.

"Excuse me, but this is not your time to argue with me," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, scolding Clemens for talking during closing remarks.

And then the man with 354 career wins relented and, finally worn down after all these years, was defeated.
-- Seattle Times

Lance Pugmire: "Waxman has options but won't commit on Clemens"
The man who has the power to immediately suggest federal law enforcement authorities launch an investigation into the truthfulness of Roger Clemens' sworn statements to Congress was noncommittal on that subject at the end of Wednesday's "robust discussion."

"I don't know if that's the next step," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that devoted nearly five hours to the intense questioning of Clemens and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee. "That wasn't the focus of my interest."

Perhaps not right away, but legal experts say Waxman's committee and the Department of Justice certainly have options to deliberate after Clemens stuck to his story by testifying he has never used steroids or human growth hormone -- a claim that conflicts with McNamee's own repeated sworn statements.
-- Los Angeles Times

Mike Lupica: "Maryland rep holds Clemens' cleats to the fire"
He came at Roger Clemens almost as soon as Clemens finished his opening statement, before 11 o'clock in the morning, came at Clemens the way the young Mike Tyson used to come out of his corner for the first round of a fight.

His name is Elijah Cummings, and he represents Baltimore in the 7th Congressional District, and right out of the gate he wanted to talk about somebody they should have talked about all day in room 2154 of the Rayburn Building Wednesday.

And that is Andy Pettitte.
-- New York Daily News

Ken Davidoff: "Texas-sized meltdown for arrogant Clemens"
George Mitchell opened up a fissure between baseball ownership and the Players Association. Roger Clemens got the Republicans and Democrats to go at it like Athens and Sparta.

Advantage, Rocket.

What else would you expect from the man who does everything Texas big?

It figures that when Clemens' reputation went down in flames, as it very much did yesterday on Capitol Hill, it plummeted with a larger-than-life flourish. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner even pulls off failure more smoothly than the rest of us.
-- Newsday

Mitch Albom: "The Clemens/McNamee verdict: Both can't be right"
Somebody's lying. The question is who?

And who cares?

Let's face it, The Roger Clemens Story has turned into a witch hunt, and what most everyone wants is to prove Clemens used steroids and human growth hormone, because there is almost a sense of obligation now in sports -- if not a perverse thrill -- to pop the biggest balloon.

And Clemens, with his puffy jaw set and his big belly stretching those three-piece suits, has indeed appeared balloon-like as he shouts his innocence all over the country, in news conferences, on "60 Minutes," all the way to the closing statement of a televised congressional hearing Wednesday, when Clemens interrupted the chairman after four hours of testimony to again insist his accusers were lying.
-- Detroit Free Press

Other stories about the hearing
"Body language analyst breaks down Clemens, McNamee performances" -- ESPN.com
"Ex-teammates, former nanny may hurt Clemens" -- San Francisco Chronicle
"The hearings: Like C-SPAN on steroids" -- New York Daily News
"No one looks good in this circus" -- Kansas City Star