Andy Pettitte did the honorable thing late yesterday when he admitted, in the wake of the Mitchell Report, that he took human growth hormone on two occasions while recuperating from an elbow injury in 2002.
Will Roger Clemens also do the honorable thing?
"Roger's position has not changed," wrote agent Randy Hendricks in an e-mail last night. "The two are not connected."
Hendricks has represented both pitchers for many years. He was on board with the individual decisions his clients made - one to come clean and the other to defend his innocence. Pettitte, while an outstanding pitcher, is not a Hall of Famer. Clemens is. Is that the difference in one admitting guilt and the other maintaining his innocence in an effort to save his legacy?
It didn't help Clemens that Pettitte basically corroborated the testimony of trainer Brian McNamee, who worked extensively with the pitchers for many years. The one major piece of evidence missing in allegations against them is documentation (canceled checks or receipts) that back up McNamee's claims that he injected Clemens with steroids and Pettitte with HGH.
If it were a court of law, it would certainly be a major issue in the proof of innocence or guilt. What the report left us with was a he-said/he-said scenario. Obviously, former senator George Mitchell bought McNamee's version.
Pettitte rubber-stamped that testimony yesterday. If McNamee was right about Pettitte, even without documentation, why wouldn't he be right about Clemens? Logically, it's hard not to connect the two, which is why Clemens needs to speak.
"If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize," Pettitte said in a statement. "I accept responsibility for those two days. Everything else written or said about me knowingly using illegal drugs is nonsense, wrong, and hurtful. I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable. I wasn't looking for an edge; I was looking to heal."
Pettitte signed a one-year, $16 million deal to return to the Yankees for one more season. He contemplated retiring after last season. Who knows whether Pettitte was thinking about calling it quits because of the report. Pettitte did himself a lot of favors. Like Jason Giambi, he will be forgiven for his lapse of judgment, though in 2002 there was no steroid or HGH ban in effect. Pettitte will likely not serve a suspension and his status as one of the most popular Yankees ever will remain intact.
"We support his coming forward," the Yankees said in a statement.
According to the Mitchell Report, Pettitte was injected by McNamee between April 21 and June 14, 2002, in Tampa, Fla., where Pettitte was rehabbing.
"In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow," Pettitte said. "I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped."
His statement continued: "If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication."
Clemens has vehemently denied his steroid use through his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, who said the night the Mitchell Report came out that Clemens adamantly denies he has ever used steroids.
Innocent or not, inclusion in the Mitchell Report has soiled Clemens's legacy. Hall of Fame voters will wrestle with his candidacy for the next five years, though many are beginning to move toward the realization that steroid use was rampant in baseball from the late 1990s through the early 2000s.
Most voters also realize that Jose Canseco's allegations that 85 percent of all players dabbled in steroids is becoming more legitimate, and that although we thought the playing field was not fair, maybe it was.
One of the most troublesome aspects of the Mitchell Report is that it is so incomplete. So many players will skate punishment-free, while those fingered in the Mitchell Report will be forever branded.
If Clemens feels he's innocent, he should fight it legally. Sources close to Clemens indicate the pitcher will speak at some point and defend himself, which he needs to do. Though they may be exclusive of one another, his buddy Pettitte made things a little tougher for him by admitting his guilt.
Should Clemens make Hall?Should Roger Clemens still be voted into the Hall of Fame after revelations of his steroid use in the Mitchell Report?
Jerry Crasnick, ESPN: "You can file me under 'undecided' right now. This situation is so volatile, I have a hard time committing to any player with even a hint of suspicion, knowing that the next revelation might be just another Jose Canseco book away. I know that some guys think you have to view statistical accomplishments within the context of the era, and that it's tough for writers to play detective and guess which players used steroids and which guys didn't. So they just vote based on the numbers. Other guys believe that anyone who cheated doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Period. I think there's a huge group of us in the middle who are just making up our own rules on the fly."
Jayson Stark, ESPN: "My inclination is still to vote for him, pending further details. If you're looking for reasons, they're the same reasons I would vote for most, if not all, of the great players of that generation. There's too much we still don't know - about Roger Clemens and virtually all the rest of them. So our choice is either to pretend that whole era of baseball never happened or do what voters did for generations before us when dealing with 'cheaters' and other scandals - vote on what happened on the field."
Dan Graziano, Newark Star-Ledger: "No, I would not [vote for Clemens]. My personal feeling on this is that the Hall of Fame is a reward, and I don't intend to reward people who cheated in an effort to get there. I did not vote for Mark McGwire last year and have no plans to vote for him in the future. Similarly, I have no plans to vote for Barry Bonds."
Tracy Ringolsby, Rocky Mountain News, a J.G. Spink Award recipient: "I would vote for him. I think what this report shows is that baseball, like other sports, went through a period of time that will be forever blemished, but it also shows this was an industry-wide situation, not isolated cases."
Ricciardi to play waiting game on Zaun and GlausA few questions for Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi:
Were you surprised at all to see two of your guys [Gregg Zaun and Troy Glaus] named in the Mitchell Report?
JR: "No. We'll adhere to whatever the commissioner's office is inclined to do in each case. That's all we can do. We'll support whatever decision is made and take it from there. We expect they'll be playing for us. It's just a wait-and-see situation. I'm sure it's as tough on them not knowing."
What made you go after David Eckstein?
JR: "Couple of things. We needed a leadoff hitter because we've been kind of mix and matching there and using different people. He's a gritty guy, a high-chemistry guy who we think will fit onto our team quite well. He brings a lot of intangibles and we were looking to upgrade our offense at that position. A one-year deal [$4.5 million] works for us and he was willing to go along with it, which is great. If it works out, we'll hope to keep him around."
What happens to incumbent shortstop John McDonald?
JR: "John is an outstanding defensive shortstop and we'll find ways to use his strengths, believe me. John is still very much in our plans. We felt we just had to have a little more offense and we think Eckstein with his experience, and his experience in the postseason, will be a big asset to us."
Think you're done?
JR: "I doubt we'll do too much else. There might be one or two things that we might do or keep our eye on. We'll only do something if it makes sense for our team and our payroll structure and it improves us in the area we need. We're always looking to upgrade, but right now we're still talking to teams."
Could one of the moves be moving A.J. Burnett?
JR: "Not really discussing anything like that. We feel we have a very good starting pitching staff and we're hoping our guys can stay healthy and mature. You'd always like more pitching, but we're pleased with what we have there."
Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com