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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clemens' best pitch not enough

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

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Twenty-four major league seasons and 4,916 innings pitched haven't prepared Roger Clemens for anything like this.

Seven Cy Young Awards and an MVP Award might not get him out of it, either.

He's in a bases-loaded jam in Washington and it isn't the Nationals that are stepping to the plate against him.

It is the House oversight committee, not the Senators, and Clemens is behind in the count in this performance enhancing inquiry. Way behind.

Maryland Congressman Elijah E. Cummings said what was on a lot of fans' minds when he pointedly told Clemens yesterday, "It's hard to believe you, Sir. I hate to say that. You're one of my heroes, but it's hard to believe you."

Yes, there is a hint of plausibility to the steadfast denials of steroid and human growth hormone use coming out of Clemens' mouth. But with the preponderance of testimony and affidavits, the scoreboard of public opinion has him trailing badly in the late innings in this one.

Which is remarkable in that The Rocket is getting knocked around by his former trainer, Brian McNamee, an admitted liar, and a bunch of politicians. Sometimes it was hard to tell the two apart. That's like getting rocked by the opposing pitcher. Murderer's Row these guys aren't. They aren't even the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

But they are getting good wood on his denials and taking him deep, if not yet to the woodshed. Proving that maybe it takes one to know one, they are pretty good at sniffing out statements that reek of falsehoods and jumping on them like hanging curves.

We're used to seeing Rocket Roger wearing the pinstripes, not the lawyers who were standing behind him. Where's Mariano Rivera when you need him?

This isn't the way it used to be for Clemens, one of the game's hardest-throwing, most formidable pitchers in his prime. A heyday that, as the testimony and allegations mount, is looking more and more like it was built on the administering of something other than B-12 shots and, well, hay.

Yesterday, the strongest pitch made by Clemens, a man renown for his fastball, was that friend and former teammate Andy Pettitte "misremembers" a conversation they had about HGH.

Either there are plenty of people "misremembering" and fabricating events surrounding him or Clemens is frantically throwing a lot of people his wife, nanny and former teammates under the team bus in an effort to save what was once a sure-thing Hall of Fame candidacy.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.

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