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Lost in the Shuffle: Pettitte Might Have Misunderstood Clemens

Feb 15, 2008 – 5:56 PM
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Stephanie Stradley

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After the steroid hearing, Roger Clemens received a lot of grief for claiming that Andy Pettitte "misrembered" things or that how dare he say that Pettitte was lying. Though Pettitte's affidavit seemed pretty unequivocal, as Will Carroll notes at Baseball Prospectus, his deposition did have a lot more wiggle room in it.

On page 20 of the Pettitte deposition, he discusses the conversation where he says that Clemens told him that he was using HGH. He says he remembers few details about the conversation.

Then on page 28 of his deposition Pettitte says:

"I'm saying that I was under the impression that he told me he had taken it [HGH]. And then when Roger told me that he didn't take it, and I misunderstood him, I took it for that, that I misunderstood him."

On page 91 of his deposition, Pettitte states:

"I don't think I misunderstood him....But then, 6 years later when he told me that I did misunderstand him, you know, since '05 to this day, you know, I kind of felt that I might have misunderstood him."

Adversarial proceedings, even when everyone claims that is not what they are supposed to be, are terrible ways to try to find "the truth." Nobody at that hearing was really interested in "the truth."

Rather, they were more interested in grinding axes, hoping not to go to perjure jail, grandstanding, mangling Jose Canseco's name, praying for a Perry Mason moment of confession, reminding people they are under oath, blahditty blah blah blah.

The truth is a subtle weird thing. "Subtle" in that people remember things selectively, from their world view, and from memories tending to fade over time. You know, the old Rashomon cliche. "Weird" in that if you wrote some real life stuff up as fiction, nobody would find it believable.

I'm not inclined to buy what Roger Clemens is selling. That being said, it is perfectly possible that Pettitte misunderstood Clemens in 1999. Then, at the time, told McNamee and wife about what he thought he heard. Later, when they are talking in 2005, and Pettitte asks what they are going to tell reporters about HGH use, Clemens then mentions his wife's use. Clemens doesn't realize what conversation Pettitte is talking about, and assumes that he previously told Pettitte about the 2003 use of HGH by Clemens' wife.

As I said, I'm not particularly believing that, but at the same time, Pettitte remembers little about the 1999 conversation and later says he might have misunderstood Clemens. So though the general media consensus is that Pettitte sunk Clemens, I believe a lot of that is based on just the emphasis of the Pettitte affidavit during the hearings, and people not reading his deposition.

Clemens may not have appeared convincing trying to explain it, but I can't think of anyone, no matter how bright or articulate, who looks comfortable in Congressional hearings when they know people think they are lying and want perjury charges filed. I will say that the Clemens body language analysis stuff is complete story overkill and garbage.

(via Off the Kuff)
Previously at FanHouse:
Pettitte Thinks McNamee Is Credible
Lost in the Shuffle: Pettitte Admitted to Lying
Clemens Hearing Report Card: Andy Pettitte
Filed under: Sports