What Do the Statistics Say about Roger Clemens’s Steroid Use?

In an interesting move, Roger Clemens has fired back at Brian McNamee’s steroid allegations in the Mitchell Report. Using a report of his own, his representatives examine his late-career performance as a pitcher. After reading through the report, I became inspired to do my own investigation. I present my analysis below. I have received no financial compensation, but I will disclose that I do own a Clemens rookie card. :-)

Clemens’s study looks at his performance in reference to the changing playing environment of the league. For many potential reasons (e.g., new ballparks, expansion, juiced balls, etc.) the run environment dramatically changed over the course of Clemens’s career. To combat any bias from this, the authors of the study compare Clemens’s ERA to the average of the league, looking at the difference. It is no surprise that his ERA difference fluctuated quite a bit over the course of his career (p. 6). ERA is inherently a volatile statistic. In fact, in my book I use Clemens as an example of how drastically a pitcher’s ERA can change during a career, and I show that his variation in performance was well within the normal range (p. 165).

What I would like to do is to take this analysis one step further. One of the reasons that ERA is volatile is that it includes the performance of fielders and random bounces of the ball. If we use the novel idea of Voros McCracken’s DIPS, then we can more closely examine the components of Clemens’s performance over his career using factors that were solely in his control. The major defense-independent components of pitcher performance are strikeouts, walks, and home runs. In particular, I would expect Clemens’s strikeout numbers to influence and reflect his decision to use performance-enhancing drugs. Because these statistics occur at different rates, I compare how Clemens performed relative to the league average as percent of the league average.

First, I look at ERA, as percent above league average, using a connected scatter plot and a curve that represents the best quadratic fit of the data.

Though Clemens remains well above average during his career, there is a rise and decline in his performance. Two peaks jump right out: 1997–1998 (ages 34–35) and 2004–2006 (ages 41–43). McNamee claims that Clemens began using steroids in mid-season 1998, and during parts of the 2000 and 2001 seasons. I think the 2004–2006 period is more indicative of steroid use: a period during which McNamee was working with Clemens but claims not to have given him steroids. This is also a period when MLB was testing for steroids.

In terms of his strikeout rate, Clemens shows a trend of slow rise and decline during his career.

Again, there is a spike in 1996—1998; however, his performance drops considerably in 1999, and only in 2002 does he strike out batters at a similar rate again. Clemens shows clear signs of aging in his ability to strikeout batters.

Clemens’s age profile for walks is strange, and it is the only area in which he improved dramatically as he grew older.

During the first half of his career his walk prevention decined—with the exception of 1997, when he was outstanding in every aspect of the game on his way to winning the Cy Young—but after bottoming out in 1999, he showed slow improvement. Could this be the sign of an aging veteran who is using knowledge and finesse to make-up for the physical effects of aging? Walks are something that tend peak later for all pitchers. This could be due to pitchers’ choosing to compensate for physical deterioration or just a product of learning. I find it interesting that as Clemens’s strikeout power waned he improved in this area—the area in which I expect steroids would be least helpful.

Clemens’s home run prevention fluctuates wildly throughout his career, with a barely discernible rise-and-fall aging trend .

As we saw with ERA, there are two spikes in 1997–1998 and in 2004–2006. I’m not sure there is much to glean from this area of performance.

In summary of the data, there is no doubt that Clemens is a good pitcher who had some excellent years late in his career. Only the spike in 1998 fits with McNamee’s testimony; and, this doesn’t seem like a time that Clemens would consider using drugs. Also, the more remarkable late-career spike occurs when Clemens was in his 40s—after McNamee was not giving steroids and MLB had implemented random drug testing. Next, I want to consider the possible motives at the time McNamee claims Clemens used the drugs.

In the Mitchell Report, McNamee claims that Clemens first expressed interest in using steroids on, or just after, a road trip to Florida, during which Clemens pitched on June 8. Here are Clemens’s performance statistics from his first start until when he allegedly indicated to McNamee that he wanted to start using steroids. As a reference point I include how much better or worse than he was than league average at the time. While these are excellent numbers, Clemens may have demanded more of himself, so I include his performance from 1997 (overall and relative to the league) as another benchmark.

				ERA	K9	BB9	HR9
1998		Clemens		3.27	9.18	4.32	0.32
4/1--6/8	Lg Avg.		4.66	6.39	3.43	1.10
		% > Avg		29.77%	43.57%	-25.95%	71.36%
1997		Clemens		2.05	9.95	2.32	0.31
		Lg Avg.		4.57	6.43	3.50	1.10
		% > Avg		55.26%	54.71%	33.80%	72.10%

His ERA was higher than it was in 1997, and he was walking more batters; but, his strikeouts and home run prevention were similar. It looks like Clemens’s problems had more to do with control than power. After June 8, he cut his walk rate to 2.83 per nine innings and increased his strikeout rate to 11.09 per nine innings. I don’t see Clemens—a 15-year veteran at that point—looking at a .500 record and a slightly higher walk rate and thinking, “I need some steroids to get back on track.” It is possible that the walks were a function of fatigue and possibly he wanted steroids to help him recover quicker and go deeper into games. This is what McNamee claims, but I think we would observe performance declines in strikeouts and homers in the early part of the season if this was the case. Clemens appeared to get his command back, which lowered his walks and increased his strikeouts. Steroids could have also helped, but the issue is explaining why he would choose to start using when he seems to be performing up to recent standards.

Clemens’s second supposed use of steroids occurred during the 2000 season as a member the New York Yankees. According to the Mitchell Report, McNamee alleged that “during the middle of the 2000 season Clemens made it clear that he was ready to use steroids again.” He claims to have administered steroids and human growth hormone, each four to six times, during the second half of the season. Though we do not have the exact timeline, looking at the first-half performance should be sufficient to see how Clemens was performing up to that point.

Half	ERA	K9	BB9	HR9
First	4.33	8.47	3.76	1.22
Second	3.15	8.12	3.64	1.08

Clemens’s first-half ERA was better than the league average and his performance in 1999. His strikeout and walk rates (7.81 and 4.31) were also better than the previous season. It was his worst year at preventing home runs, but I doubt this one thing would be enough to motivate Clemens to use. Again, this seems like an odd time for Clemens to begin using performance-enhancers. And even if he did take performance-enhancing drugs, they did not appear to have much of an effect.

The third instance at which McNamee accuses Clemens of steroid use occurs in August 2001. This would have been an odd time to ask for help considering that he was performing better than the previous season in all areas, and he would ultimately win the Cy Young award.

			ERA	BB9	K9	HR9
2001 (Apr-July)		3.58	2.79	8.92	0.91

That is the last time McNamee would document Clemens’s steroid use, even though he would continue to train him; thus, McNamee claims that the second late-career bump was clean. In 2002 and 2004, Clemens would post strikeout rates of over one per inning—something he had not achieved since 1998. His walks steadily improved, and 2004–2006 were excellent years for his ERA and home run prevention. He would win the Cy Young in 2004, and he came in third in 2005. Some of this may be due to his travel arrangements and short seasons, but he would pitch over 200 innings in 2004 and 2005. This is also a period of drug testing; thus, all signs point to Clemens’s performance being natural.

Another tool is used in the Clemens report is a comparison to other great pitchers: Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Curt Schilling. Again, this doesn’t prove that he’s clean, but it does show that such continued excellent performance is common enough to be expected by natural means. I was surprised to see one comparison not included, John Smoltz. Since returning to the Atlanta rotation in 2005, he has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, ranking among the league’s ten most valuable pitchers from 2005–2007 (ages 38–40). This is another example of an exceptionally talented ballplayer who loves playing the game and has a strong work-ethic.

There is also the possibility that Clemens used steroids throughout his career, and that other pitchers having late-career success have all been aided by performance-enhancing drugs. I find both to be unlikely, especially the former. If Clemens continued employing McNamee several years beyond the last time the alleged steroid injections occurred, why would he go somewhere else for his steroids? Or, why would McNamee lie to say that Clemens was clean during this period?

This in no way proves that Clemens didn’t use steroids; he is right when says he can’t prove a negative. Others may interpret the data differently than I do. But, the more I look into these numbers, the more I am convinced that McNamee is the one who is lying. Until I see some other corroborating evidence—I wonder what is in those seized 2004 drug tests—I have to conclude that Clemens pitched without the aid of steroids.

45 Responses “What Do the Statistics Say about Roger Clemens’s Steroid Use?”

  1. hilarie says:

    You assume that steroids would improve pitching performance. There is no evidence that this is true. Clemens and other players may have used steroids because they believed the drugs would make them better. That doesn’t mean the drugs did make them better. Clemens may also have worn his lucky cap at critical times for the same reason. You won’t find that cap’s effects in his record either.

  2. mraver says:

    I tend to agree with hilarie. I’ve never been too convinced that steroid use would have dramatic effects on player performance, so I’m not convinced that using the numbers a player put up during his career to observe steroid use would be effective.

    And for whatever it’s worth, it wouldn’t be tough to create different narratives in which Clemens would be BEGGING for some more ‘roids at the times when McNamee says he was using.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, this essentially remains a he-said-McNamee-said kind of deal in my mind. Although I do appreciate the attempt to do some empirical analysis on a problem that otherwise looks intractable.

  3. JC says:

    It is possible that the effects of steroids on pitching performance are negligible. I’m not denying this possibility. Unlike human growth hormone, steroids have been shown to improve athletic performance; thus, I think it is likely that there is some benefit to pitchers. But this really isn’t all that important to the analysis. The stats still show a “natural” performance (even if the steroids don’t work). This also does nothing to affect the timing argument. If Clemens think they work, these are very odd times to use.

    He-said-he-said disputes happen all the time, and we have to then decide which party we find to be more reliable. In this case, I think Clemens’s explanation of events is more plausible than McNamee’s.

  4. Trent says:

    I would tend to agree. It just doesn’t seem logical to ask for the roids when McNamee says he did and the statistics of older pitchers are a great comparison. Maybe modern medicine has something to do with it. Maybe his resting and off season regimen are also responsible. Clemens knew what to do to be successful, and his hero is Nolan Ryan. Maybe a little emulation occured. Nobody ever accused Nolan of pumping roids. I really want to believe Clemens, but there is no foolproof way to prove a negative. I just hope Roger is able to do it.

  5. Ron says:

    So why would McNamee lie about Clemens yet tell the truth about Pettite? It seems more likely to me that if he told the truth about one that he told the truth about both regardless of whether the steroids actually helped Clemens or not.

  6. Sonny Mook says:

    I had friends who played baseball in high school and college and started using steroids.

    With a few exceptions, most of them did improve.

    Maybe it was a placebo effect, or maybe the fact that some of them got a hell of alot faster, or stronger, or had better stamina, maybe, just maybe was the reason they got better.

    I didn’t recommend they used steroids, and don’t recommend them now, but I would be absolultly full of crap if I said it can’t help you improve as a ball player. Watching one kid add 5 mph to his fastball made me a believer…..though his mounting injuries convinced me he made a mistake.

  7. Brandon says:

    I guess this is about as far as the argument can be taken using this methodology. Part of the trouble is that we don’t have any statistics about the impact of steroid use in general on which to base the inquiry. What would the average pitcher’s statistical signature look like exactly? Another problem is that we don’t know whether McNamee was the sole source of steroids for Clemens (assuming he used them at all.) Fans may find the latter unlikely, but as Roger says it’s an almost impossible burden to prove the absence of something. I salute the effort but I’m not sure any sort of valid inference can be made under the circumstances other than “nothing jumps out at us.”

  8. Dan says:

    To conclude that Clemens is telling the truth based on a lack of perceived effectiveness of steroid use is outrageously stupid. Not only is there no proof that steroids help pitchers, it is well known that steroids help athletic performance by allowing users to work out harder and to recover faster. Any effects will be tiny and at the margins, likely to be completely obliterated by random variation of any stat that may be used.

    The effect of steroids on hitters, however, can be clearly seen in the relationship of strength to power numbers.

    Furthermore, as McNamee stated to Senator Mitchell, he only injected Clemens perhaps 16 to 20 times. Correct me if I am wrong but that number is, I believe, a fraction of the number of times that Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco or any other hardcore steroid abuser was injected with PEDs. This means that any anticipated effects should be even smaller, and even more likely to get “washed out” in random variation.

    Your conclusion is furthermore untenable based on any reasonable interpretation of the facts surrounding McNamee’s claims. To lie to the feds would leave him at risk of criminal charges of not only perjury but distribution of steroids. The fact that Pettitte confirms his claims. The fact that at no point in that tape-recorded conversation did McNamee ever say that he lied to the Feds or that he is sorry for lying.

    On the other hand, it is Clemens who has acted as a guilty man would. It was Clemens who said on the tape that he had heard of this New York Met guy, McNamee, and did McNamee know him? The simple, and devastating question is, if Clemens was not a user, why was he asking his trainer if he had a connection to a steroid distributor, months before the Mitchell report came out? It is obvious that Clemens was concerned that if McNamee had a connection to Radomski, the truth of his training methods would come out.

    Clemens has refused to take a lie detector test, in the middle of a he-said, he-said dispute! The question is who is telling the truth, and you can count on the fact that the reason that Clemens won’t take the test is that Rusty Hardin ordered one, and Clemens failed. Don’t you think that an attorney worth his salt would order one under these circumstances? And if the results were positive, wouldn’t he trumpet those results everywhere? After all, this is largely a battle for public opinion, to “prove a negative”. If you had evidence of his telling the truth you use it.

    It is also Clemens who has lied about injections given by McNamee, as he first put out the video on youtube stating unequivocally that McNamee never injected anything – yet the story changed for 60 Minutes. Through all these painful accusations, he initially forgets those supposed injections of lidocaine and b-12?

    And what of those supposed injections? I haven’t seen a single statement by a medical professional indicating that anyone in their right mind would allow a personal trainer to inject a drug that only a doctor would administer or have access to?

    The evidence to date is overwhelmingly against Clemens. Its inescapable.

  9. Steve says:

    You left out the best part! Show the chart for how much better or worse Clemens DIPS rate was to the major league average. This combines strikes, walks and homeruns into one value, thereby giving more robust and meaningful information. Based on your introduction I thought you’d go in that direction and give us that chart. Why didn’t you?

  10. Rick says:

    I don’t have the time to do an analysis on my own, but what about using ERA+ instead of ERA? One thing the report states is that Clemens didn’t start throwing a splitter until 1997 or so. He was throwing it in 1990. He also had lost velocity on his FB in the mid-nineties only to suddenly regain it later. An aging pitcher does not normally gain velocity. None of the pitchers his agents are comparing him to gained velocity as they aged.
    They also include 2005 in the comparison to Schilling. He was pitching on one leg much of that year. I’m not sure if they include all of the years for RJ too, but he’s been injured quite a bit lately.

  11. hilarie says:

    You say

    It is possible that the effects of steroids on pitching performance are negligible. I’m not denying this possibility. Unlike human growth hormone, steroids have been shown to improve athletic performance; thus, I think it is likely that there is some benefit to pitchers. But this really isn’t all that important to the analysis.

    In fact, this is *everything* to an analysis that claims to show that Clemens’ story is more plausible because his performance statistics hover around a presumed (but ill-defined) “norm.” Ya got no valid baseline. Basically, Marvin Benard could make the same argument: The lack of a sustained performance spike proves he never used.

    The established fact that certain steroids taken on certain schedules at certain dosages by certain individuals engaged in certain concurrent activities will improve certain types of “athletic performance” is not much to go on when seeking to rebut a great deal of substantive, if not conclusive, circumstantial evidence.

    All these statistics show is what Clemens did. They say nothing at all about his, or McNamee’s, credibility.

  12. Steve says:

    Hilarie, you missed the point. If there would have been an increase in Clemen’s performance at the times he was accused of taking steroids it would have strengthened the case against him. Conversely, if no such evidence is found it weakens that evidence. In now way does it prove he’s innocent, but you can’t say “Heads I win, tails you lose”, and say a performance analysis has relevance to his guilt but no relevance to his innocence. Considering there is no rock solid smoking gun (yet!), this should be including in the total mix of evidence for and against him.

    Furthermore, even if he did take steroids, this analysis lessons the severity of the crime. If his taking steroids didn’t help him, you can’t dismiss his accomplishments because of it. You still may want to ban him from the HOF for moral reasons like Pete Rose, but you can’t say his record was only due to the juice, as you can about Jose Conseco and many others.

  13. rerre says:

    There’s only three seasons where the mitchell report accuses clemens of juicing. This however doesn’t mean clemens steroid use is only limited to those three season’s. It’s very likely infact that he started before the 1998 given that he somehow knew he couldnt inject himself when he approached mcnamee. this leads me to believe that he tried injecting himself before, or had someone injecting him the previous season. perhaps the Personal trainer had had before mcnamee

  14. rerre says:

    also, isn’t it interesting that in the report he asks mcnamee about Anadrol-50, but not winstrol? why didnt he ask anything about winstrol? my opinion is – because he was already using winstrol before the 98 season. He knew the benefits they provided, and therefore didnt need mcnamee’s advice on it.

  15. Slugfest says:

    “Furthermore, even if he did take steroids, this analysis lessons the severity of the crime. If his taking steroids didn’t help him, you can’t dismiss his accomplishments because of it. You still may want to ban him from the HOF for moral reasons like Pete Rose, but you can’t say his record was only due to the juice, as you can about Jose Conseco and many others.”

    Steroids are performance enhancers, not miracle workers. Canseco’s performance wasn’t only due to the juice, the man had to have talent in the first place.

    That said, if Clemens did use steroids, the recovery aspect alone provided him an unfair advantage over others. Even if it didnt enhance his performance one bit on the field (which I don’t believe for a second), the recovery aspect alone is enough to downgrade him for steroid use.

  16. hilarie says:

    That makes no sense at all. I’m not trying to have it both ways, JC is. I’m just saying that the stats mean absolutely nothing about the relative plausibility of Clemens’ or McNamee’s stories. But JC claims the stats are evidence that McNamee lied. He contends that because Clemens’ stats don’t spike around the dates McNamee claims Clemens dosed, McNamee is probably lying. The middle premise is that Clemens’ stats would spike if he did steroids in the amounts McNamee claims at the times McNamee claims. There is no reason to believe that, and plenty of reason not to. JC’s rationalization? “Steroids have been shown to improve athletic performance.” Hey, my car is running rough. Chevron with Techron has been shown to improve engine performance. But my car has been running a little rough all along. Therefore it is unlikely that my gas tank ever contained Chevron with Techron. And, oh, not that it matters, but my car is a Ferrari. Factor that in. Somehow.

  17. JC says:

    Interesting news. McNamee’s attorneys are insinuating that Clemens suggested that Pettitte use HGH.

    Emery and Ward said that not only did McNamee and Pettitte talk about Clemens’s drug use on several occasions, but that Clemens might have influenced Pettitte the first time Pettitte asked to use a performance-enhancing drug.

    But this contradicts what McNamee said in the Mitchell Report about Clemens distaste for HGH after using it in 2000. I guess we’ll have to wait for the testimony.

  18. Slugfest says:

    That’s one thing that struck me as interesting JC, another was this: “will provide the first account of contemporaneous conversations with McNamee about Clemens’s use of performance-enhancing drugs in earlier years.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but to me this sounds like there may be more coming foward that Mcnamee’s lawyers know of that will discuss clemens “alleged” steroid use. Perhaps Knoblauch will be next?

  19. Sonny Mook says:

    I personally don’t think Clemens used steroids, yes I do believe him.

    That said, if I were to argue that pitchers can not benefit from using steroids (or/and HGH), they would throw my rear end in jail for purgury in a heartbeat and I would have no defense.

    I have seen the effects first hand (both positive and negative) on kids who played baseball that I knew. Saying steroids has no effect on pitching is just as stupid as saying steroids had no effect on track performance, weightlifting, or injury recovery, or hell just simply being able to work out better…….unless you think conditioning for a pitcher is just totally worthless.

  20. Rick Couture says:

    Are you kidding me. Talk about drinking the kool-aid. It is painfully obvious that you and all who agree are reaching. I suppose that his playing of a tape (that he knew he was recording) in which he says he would tell the truth to congress PROVES that he will tell the truth. Sometimes it is necessary to take the shortest, straightest, and simplest road to a destination. What is more likely? That there is a conspiracy against Roger Clemens and that a guy, in McNamee, who really gains nothing by telling lies about Clemens in making up elaborate stories. Or that a spoiled millionaire athlete, surrounded by steroids and dollar bills did what many other players did. It’s really not that hard to figure out.

  21. Dave says:

    I’m tired of people saying that McNamee gains nothing by telling lies about Clemens. McNamee was going to go to jail. They had all the evidence they needed to send him to jail. Investigators come along and say if you offer up some big name players you will not go to jail. That is a HUGE incentive to lie about Clemens.

  22. William Jameson says:

    I hate to sound so sour but it is clear that y’all are sorely lacking in any real practical knowledge of how steroids work and their effects both short and long term. To suggest that the late career bump was “clean” is silly. Even if he was clean then he still would be at a significant advantage by virtue of his earlier steroid use. It’s not as if the effects of the earlier steroid use simply disappeared or something. Our ignorance in these matters, not to mention our hypocrisy, is just depressing. Check out Radley Balko’s argument on peds in sports at reason.com.

  23. JC says:

    William,

    Could you cite some specific articles? I work in an department with exercise physiologists, with whom I discuss the science of PEDs quite frequently. I’m all for removing ignorance.

  24. Hooterdawg says:

    Why would any idiot claim McNamee is ‘ lying’ just because he like the numbers he sees. This is typical of Clemens supporters: they will to any lenghts to suport him by character assassination.
    Steroid use is not necessarily indicated by numbers – several writers have pointed this out. Because of your libelous techniques, it is you who are lying without proof.

  25. Hooterdawg says:

    Ding Dong Dave, the exchange of testimony for immunity has been around in law inforcement for eons. Do you want to take on the entire criminal justice system? Before such a deal is made, specialists much smarter than you review the testimony against all the facts they have gathered in the case, and all facts of similar investigations in case files. Do you think they give up something for nothing? If McNamee’s testimony wasn’t credible – and collaborated by other facts – they just don’t make a deal, period. You don’t even know what evidence of wrong doing they had on McNamee. They never said he was busted for possession or selling. Most of the evidence the Feds have against McNamee is a result of his cooperation and admission of the crimes he committed – not crimes the Feds had any proof of. McNamee was named by the Mets clubhouse guy as one of his customers, but it is unclear what evidence he provided the Feds on any crimes McNamme committed.

  26. KL says:

    It seems that pitching statistics have a number of confounding factors that make it nearly impossible to fully show the impact of steroids or any outside influence. Why not look at something more directly related to physical abilities, say pitch velocity? Perhaps is the maximum velocity maintained over the course of a game?

  27. Geoff says:

    Did you happen to realize the your second ERA spike (2004-2006) coincided with Roger’s only stint in the minor leagues – oops, I mean in the vastly inferior National League, which also has no DH… Sorry if I’m offending your beloved Braves, but come on – you have to take the most obvious factor into account. I think you are also not pointing out the most obvious spikes to me – the strikeout spikes in ’98 and ’02 – the two years McNamee claims he was on the ‘roids…

  28. Dave says:

    Hooterdawg – I have a Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Maryland. I have worked in the field of criminology for a long time.

    The question at hand is not about the moral use of these practices, it is about the potential motivation McNamee might have for lying. I have interviewed many prosecutors and investigators who have said that more often than not their belief of a witness comes down to a gut instinct about the veracity of the claims. These people are very good at assessing the claims with little other evidence, but most of the time the witnesses are easy to read common criminals. The ability to judge the veracity of claims is more difficult the greater the education of the witness.

    McNamee may very well be telling the truth, but that does not mean he has no incentive to falsely implicate Clemens.

  29. Dan says:

    Dave:

    You are asserting that McNamee has an incentive to falsely implicate Clemens?

    Which incentive is that? The one that says “make false statements and you will be prosecuted for perjury as well as distribution of steroids”?

    Let’s talk about other incentives. What incentive do the Feds have for forcing a witness to testify falsely about Roger Clemens? They aren’t prosecuting Clemens. Perhaps they are all pissed-off Red Sox fans who have just been certain that the ‘twilight’ of Roger’s career was extended through modern chemistry?

    What incentive does George Mitchell have to participate in what can only be described as a blatant abuse of Federal power for the sole purpose of destroying Roger Clemens’ reputation?

    You are a criminologist. Certainly you must realize that in this sort of plea bargain agreement, the incentive to lie is strongest if there are two defendants charged with the same crime, for example, murder. One is promised a lighter sentence in exchange for his testimony against the other. Who knows, the guy they gave the deal to might be the one who pulled the trigger – and he does have incentive to lie.

    This case is nothing like that. The presumption that McNamee has “incentive” to lie rests on two utterly untenable assumptions:

    That he is willing to risk jail in order to damage Clemens

    That the Federal government decided that it needs to falsely implicate Roger Clemens, and that they forced this “false” testimony in order to accomplish this.

  30. JC says:

    I have had to edit several recent comments for civility. Please refrain from insults and sarcasm. Make your point politely.

    I will only approve comments that are civil.

  31. Dave says:

    Dan, you raise the better question: Do investigators have incentive to encourage McNamee to name high profile players? That is a question that is much harder to address than McNamee’s incentives. I really do not have incites into that question. Is it possible they have a motive? Absolutely. Those motives could range from personal conviction (they believe McNamee’s clients were PED users and therefore want them punished), ego (they want to be known as the person who got the big name players), professional (this one is obvious), or all of the above. I have no evidence that any of this exists, but it is certainly not unheard of.

    My fundamental challenge is to those who claim that if Clemens did not take PEDs then McNamee would have no incentive to name him. It is very possible that personal, organizational, and societal incentives can create conditions where such incentives exist. However, I need to make this clear – I am not saying that it did happen this way. I am only saying that it is not unreasonable at all to believe that it could have happened this way.

    Stepping out of my professional role for a moment to speak my own opinions – it seems unlikely that there would be no corroborating evidence if Clemens was such a heavy user. If there is such evidence I’m betting it will show up at the Congressional hearings. If it doesn’t show up I will have to conclude there just isn’t enough evidence to reasonably convict Clemens in my own mind.

  32. William Jameson says:

    JC,
    I appreciate the value of the medical literature as evidence, but if there has been a study of the range of long term effects of repeated anabolic steroid usage I cannot find it in PubMed. If anyone is aware of one I would love to see it but I suspect it does not exist and I imagine it would be hard to get such a study past any institution’s IRB. There have been a few papers on particular side effects and damage resulting from steroid use but nothing that definitively measures the range of physiological changes over a period of years. Again, If I’m wrong about that I’d really appreciate knowing.

    My points was simply something along the lines of: the effect (increase in muscle mass and strength levels) is of greater duration than the cause (the administration of anabolic steroids). The changes wrought by the use of steroids can far outlast the presence of those steroids in the user. Even without the use of additional steroids. Under the guidance of someone experienced with steroids, a single cycle of testosterone lasting eight weeks can lead to increases in size and strength that can be maintained for years after steroid usage has been curtailed. So for instance, if RC does a cycle and puts on say eighteen lbs. and manages to keep twelve of those pounds in the form of lean mass, he’s going to be that much stronger as long as he continues to train well. The muscle and the strength will not vanish once the steroids are gone from his system.
    Hence, his late career bump may be technically “clean” in that there are no steroids in his system, but he is still benefiting from the gains that resulted from his earlier usage.
    Sorry if my earlier comment seemed grouchy, I must’ve been caught up in the hysteria.
    WJ

  33. Dan says:

    Dave,
    Several responses:

    Law enforcement has incentive to propagate a lie about a private citizen only if you believe the worst about them (power mad, abusive of their authority, etc.)

    Andy Pettitte isn’t a decently big name?

    Keep in mind, too, that Radomski, who kept records of any transaction he could, led them to McNamee. So to the extent that Radomski had written evidence, the Feds had evidence to support his assertions. If they had evidence from Radomski and he failed to cover these items, he is not being fully forthright, his immunity agreement goes bye-bye. The fact that the Feds vouch for his veracity is a very large plus on his side.

    But again, that presumes that you do not already believe the worst about law enforcement officials.

    “Heavy use” of steroids is in the eye of the beholder. I said it above, no one has contradicted it yet: 16-21 shots over three different periods of time of use does not, in my opinion, rise to the level of a true heavy user of steroids such as Bonds, Caminiti, Canseco.

    The issue here is not the exact amount of “advantage” Clemens got from steroids, but the fact of his usage. I believe he belongs in the Hall. He doesn’t belong in a court of law sliming his former friend, nor should he get away with appearing before Congress and committing perjury.

  34. Dan says:

    My fundamental challenge is to those who claim that if Clemens did not take PEDs then McNamee would have no incentive to name him. It is very possible that personal, organizational, and societal incentives can create conditions where such incentives exist.
    *******************************

    OK.
    Personal: is there any evidence of a falling out between Clemens and McNamee prior to his giving evidence to the Feds and to George Mitchell? There is none. And in fact, the taped phone conversation sounds very much (to me) that McNamee is torn up about having to tell the truth about Clemens and feels very guilty about it. But he never says that he lied, nor that he was “forced” to say anything.

    Also in the realm of personal incentives to lie or not lie would be the threat of jail, and its effect on his family. Telling the truth, and only the truth, is the only way for McNamee to avoid jail, and his sick child is a strong incentive for him to do that which is necessary to insure that outcome.

    Organizational:
    We’re back to the issue of whether law enforcement personnel involved in this are interested in the truth or in abusing their power to advance their careers. Call me naive, but I’m the kind of guy who gives the benefit of the doubt to the cops and the DA

    Societal:
    Well, which society are we talking about? The world of professional baseball? In that case, McNamee screwed himself over the moment he told the truth about any player to George Mitchell. He’ll never work in baseball again. In this case, one incentive – avoiding jail – trumped any professional incentives.

  35. JC says:

    William,

    I was more interested in the Reason Magazine articles you referenced.

    I just had a long chat with two exercise physiologists. They report that once you stop using the gains evaporate quickly. In some cases, you may actually end up worse off.

  36. Brent Boersma says:

    JC, I didn’t have time to read every previous post, but doesn’t it stand to reason that though McNamee may be lying, what he is really lying about is that Clemens has continued using HGH with McNamee since testing has started (in Houston).

    This would explain the weird circumstances and emotions of the phone call. McNamee feeling stuck between a rock (giving something to the feds so as not to go to jail) and a hard place (not giving up Clemens’ using since testing began).

    It also makes sense when considering that Clemens has participated in shortened seasons. Take a round of HGH or steroids before starting his season and then stopping once he’s playing to pass the tests. Also explains why he’s worn down and been injured toward the end of seasons. Thanks,

    Brent

  37. Karen says:

    If you leave out “HGH” from your reasoning, Brent, your last paragraph makes all kinds of sense.

    There are no MLB testing procedures for HGH in place at this time. Roger Clemens allegedly said he doesn’t like the “belly button shots” that presumably are the only way to administer HGH. Therefore if he was doing PEDs, steroids would likely be the testable illegally obtained/banned substance that Clemens would have had to flush from his system before donning a MLB uniform (either Yankee or Astro in the tinelines discussed).

    Up to last year, the MLBPA was actually forewarning players when the testing would be done, and it was usually done early in the season. Therefore it makes all the sense in the world for Roger Clemens to demand a shortened season, as he did for both the Astros and the Yankees.

  38. Tex says:

    Some of you are missing the point regarding McNamee’s motive to lie to federal investigators. The Feds thought (for whatever reasons) that the “truth” was that Clemens had used steroids. Then McNamee was threatened with jail if he did not tell the “truth.” So to avoid jail, McNamee tells the “truth” as defined by the Feds–i.e., that Clemens used steroids. Presto–McNamee avoids jail, but the the truth has not been told, only the “truth” as defined by the Feds.

  39. Dan says:

    Tex said:
    Some of you are missing the point regarding McNamee’s motive to lie to federal investigators. The Feds thought (for whatever reasons) that the “truth” was that Clemens had used steroids.
    ************************

    There is zero evidence whatsoever for this assumption.

    The only source for this assertion is Rusty Hardin, Clemens’ attorney. And while asserting that McNamee was “pressured” by the Feds, Hardin tries to have it both ways: While using McNamee’s supposed statement that he was “pressured” by the Feds in support of the libel suit, Hardin also stated in the lawsuit that he does NOT accuse the Feds of misconduct.

    That’s the sort of chutzpah you get with a $500 an hour lawyer.

    But most importantly, there is zero evidence whatsoever that the Feds assumed that Clemens was dirty and sought to use McNamee to “prove” it. Furthermore, doubts have already been cast on Hardin’s description of McNamee’s Mitchell testimony as similar to a “cold war interrogation”. Mitchell has denied that account in the strongest terms possible.

  40. slugfest says:

    “Heavy use” of steroids is in the eye of the beholder. I said it above, no one has contradicted it yet: 16-21 shots over three different periods of time of use does not, in my opinion, rise to the level of a true heavy user of steroids such as Bonds, Caminiti, Canseco.”

    I’d argue that the “abuse” of steroids would hinder performance more than benefit it. Clemens, at least in my opinion, seemed to be taking it in the dosages that would be the most effective – resulting not in too much muscle mass gained,but enough of a benefit to enhance his performance.

  41. Common sense suggests it is highly unlikely a trainer would keep used syringes with illegal substances in them for seven years. Why would he do that? It is unsanitary and implicates him in a crime. Also if he had these why did he wait until now to hand them over?

  42. Greg says:

    Since thses accusations of sports figures’ use of steroids or other performance enhancers first began, has any of the accused been shown to be ultimately innocent?

  43. Dan says:

    Greg,
    I’d say the one person implicated but never proven would be Lance Armstrong, though it seems as most Europeans believe he did and Americans believe he didn’t.

    Kent,
    you’ve got it backwards. Should McNamee be implicated by others, his stash of medical waste implicates those he believed would deny to their dying breath (Clemens). He waited til now for two reasons:

    1) He felt obligated to tell the Feds and Mitchell Report investigators what he knew but still felt a sense of loyalty to Clemens, so he did not want to bury him with devastating proof (this loyalty and regret over implicating Clemens is all over that taped phone call).

    2) Once Clemens played the tape, and filed his lawsuit, McNamee understood that there could be no more loyalty. His lawyers said “this is war” and like a good general, they waited until the right moment to strike. That moment came when Clemens made his public statement affirming that he had repeated his denials while under oath. Now the damage done to Clemens will be greatest.

  44. Mark says:

    You are all missing the point: the two of them are out of baseball, hopefully for good.