Monday, March 31, 2008

Wrapping up pre-season

Finally, the real season is upon us - again. Never put too much credence in exhibition/practice games, but once again the Sox looked far less than stellar. The only hit they managed in last night's game was from Bobby Kielty in the 8th inning. Jet lag? Hmm. As for pitching, we are seeing how difficult it can be to crack the majors. Clay Bucholz struggled last night getting pulled after walking the first two batters of the 4th. His line was not good. A couple of observations. First, he probably had less pressure last year in his couple of starts. He knew he was just up for a spot start, and just let loose. It is different when your mentality is to earn a permanent job and be impressive day in and day out. Second, there is now a scouting report on Clay - one that did not exist last year. As he says himself, batters are not swinging at his setup pitches like they did last year. He has good stuff, but needs to take that step up to the next level.

Speaking of Bobby Kielty, he should be making a decision today on whether he'll accept a trip to Pawtucket, or ask for his release. He does not have a problem staying, but I think his agent is trying to get him a good offer elsewhere. Can't blame him for taking a regular major league job rather than play in the minors. I think he is a nice addition though. With JD Drew/Jacoby Ellsbury both left handed batters, Bobby gives them a right handed option that they'll miss.

Speaking of JD Drew, I hear people getting on his case again on the radio today. Come on people, back off. He's injured, let him work through it. It amazes me how people love to assume players dog it. Not easy with the level of scrutiny they get from trainers every day. Beckett is out with back troubles, so is Drew. They are both on our side, give them the same respect. JD Drew is a terrific outfielder, and has a lot of talent at the plate. Last year was an off year for him, but he had a lot going on at home juggling a pregnant wife, and a son going through some serious medical problems. He stepped up in the playoffs when we needed him the most, and he looked great this spring until he got hurt. His second season should be better (ala Josh Beckett last year).

Speaking of Japan (well I started the other paragraphs that way), the Sox signed a 26 year old talent from Japan. Terumasa Matsuo (why does that name remind me of my favorite Italian dessert) was the MVP of his league last season going 15-3 with 159 strikeouts and a 1.72 era. Of course, that does not translate into MLB numbers, but he clearly has some talent. He's reporting to extended spring training this week, but keep an eye on him. He could be interesting.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Memorial Coliseum Wrapup

I managed to stay awake long enough to watch about half the game. Here are my thoughts...

To open the game, they had the most boring flyover I ever saw. Three helicopters slowly passed overhead. Not Blackhawks or anything, just three basic helicopters like news copters.

It was a testament to how ridiculous the field dimensions were when the Dodgers took the field with NO left fielder. The left fielder played behind second base, and the shortstop took a step or two back to cover left field. Very entertaining. In the first inning, a Dodger player laced a shot down the left field line and off the wall in the corner, and Lugo fielded the ball off the wall. Very strange, but fun to watch. Big Papi, in his first at bat, toyed with the short left field wall going that way foul twice, and then changing strategy and ripping a single to right field. After Japan, it was good to see Papi have a good at bat. Another odd moment took place when Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base and the left fielder (Andruw Jones) fielded the throw from the catcher. I wonder if they worked on that one in practice.

Cash and Youk both took advantage of the short field dimensions and earned the Sox 5 runs with their two homers. Somewhat surprisingly, Wakefield kept the Dodgers in the park and did a nice job going 5 innings allowing only one run on 5 hits, two strikeouts, and a walk.

The worst news for Sox fans (other than Ellsbury actually being thrown out stealing) was that Papelbon again looked very human. He allowed 3 hits and 2 runs (thanks to a Dewitt home run with two outs) in the ninth inning. Not good. But, this is still spring training. Well sort of. Hopefully, Paps can bring out the good stuff Tuesday night.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Good Pitching - No Hitting

Last night's game against the Dodgers had some good news and bad news. The game itself was really another way to get in some good work as far as the jet lagged Sox were concerned. The good news is that Bartolo Colon was very solid. He went 4 innings, threw 60 pitches, while only allowing 3 hits and 1 run to go with 4 strikeouts and a walk. He comfortably threw his fastball in the low 90's and did a nice job mixing in his curve ball. The only thing holding him back seems to be another week or two of conditioning. They want to stretch him out to somewhere between 80 and 90 pitches before bringing him up. Word is that he will be the opening day starter for Pawtucket and will probably pitch 3 or four games with the PawSox before the big call up.

The bad news is all about the jet lagged offense. The Sox managed just 3 hits and one run all night. But, Terry Francona made 9 substitutions during the game, so clearly this is not a game to stress about. But, over the next week, I'd love to see the bats coming a bit more to life. Too bad JD Drew got injured when he did, he was the hottest hitter at the time. Big Papi has yet to break out, among others.

Maybe tonight when the Sox play in the tiny Memorial Coliseum. Any chance Papi has been working on going the other way? A little pop up will be off the wall.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Where's Left Field?

The title of this post is NOT a quote from Manny Ramirez as he runs out onto the field before each game. It is a question that popped into my head when I saw this photo of Memorial Coliseum where the Sox will play on Saturday against the Dodgers. In fact, it looks like Manny will practically be standing right behind Mike Lowell. The distance down the left field line at Memorial Coliseum is a mere 251 feet ( Fenway Park also has a small left field, but even there the distance down the left field line is 310 feet. You know all the right handed batters will be drooling looking down that line. If I were pitching, every pitch would be the the right field side of the plate!

I think I may watch that game - could be quite a home run derby.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Two down, 160 to go

Again, this trip to Japan is definitely odd. The season has started and the Sox are 1-1, but now we go back to playing exhibition games? I'm sorry, but I just don't like that. But, I do like the fact that the Sox are getting a chance to recover a bit from the travel before jumping into the next game.

What happened in game 2? Well, bottom line is the Sox ran into a very good pitcher having a very good day. Rich Harden looked terrific in his 2008 debut, and A's fans should be very happy about that. He more or less mowed down a good hitting lineup. He went 6 innings, striking out 9 batters while only allowing 3 hits. Very impressive. The downside for Harden was the home run to Manny, along with 3 walks. The Sox bats were cooled off enough that they managed only 2 more hits and 4 more strike outs after Harden's exit from the game following the 6th inning. Thirteen strikeouts in one game for the Sox? Not a proud offensive showing.

Lester looked decent and kept the Sox in the game. His control was off enough that batters were able to work the count on him and get his pitch count up, leading to an earlier than desired exit. I like Lester, and I expect he'll be a reasonably reliable 4th or 5th man in the rotation. I don't see him going much beyond that yet, unless he can consistently lock his command down, which he has only shown glimpses of so far.

What to watch for next...

Bartolo Colon will be getting the start in the first exhibition game against the Dodgers. He's still looking good, and a good start in that game may accelerate his time table. As a Sox fan, your biggest worry right now should be who will fill Schilling's spot in the rotation. You have heard that last year's Championship team is nearly untouched, so why not will it all again? Well, without Schilling, the all-important starting rotation has a hole. Last year we had Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K, and Wakefield as the core of the rotation (granted Schilling was injured for a period of time, but follow along for a minute). The 5th spot was filled admirably by Tavares and then Lester in September. Without Schilling, we need to rely on someone like Clay Bucholz to step up. But, as a rookie, I'd look for him to be a 4th or 5th man in the rotation. That bumps Wakefield up to 3rd in the rotation.

So, to me, Colon could turn the season around. If he gets back to even close to his potential, he clearly fits in as either the number 2 or 3 man, leaving Wake in the 4th slot, and allowing more flexibility for Francona to work the hot hand into the 5th slot. With an effective Colon added to the rotation, the Sox would have the nod over the Yankees on pitching. Without him, it's a draw.

I never thought I'd be cheering for Colon. Times change.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One game, One win

Doesn't it feel great to have baseball back? Red Sox win in extra innings. The game started off fairly sluggish, but got exciting as it went along. I think opening in Japan is interesting, but all-in-all, I don't like it. It does absolutely nothing to help either team, throws their spring training into turmoil, and after two games, they go back to playing exhibition games. That just doesn't make sense. Their ONLY point to playing these games in Japan is money and marketing. Someone needs to think these through better.

So, let me run you through some thoughts I collected while watching opening day. Got to get these out before game two starts in a couple hours.

I have to admit, I missed most of the first two innings, and apparently Dice-K did not start off well. However, after the 2nd, he settled down pretty well. It it wasn't for a high pitch count by then, combined with the game being so early on, he looked like he could have cruised another inning or two.

The A's really helped the Sox out quite a bit. In the 6th inning, Dustin Pedroia's double should have been an out. Not the easiest catch in the world, but the right fielder was there, had a bead on it, and should have grabbed it. If you ask him, I bet he agrees. That miss helped set up Manny's double, driving in the first 2 RBI of the year for the Sox. Manny started off slow last year, but so far so good this year. Then, Brandon Moss strokes a nice single to right, and Manny is waved home from second. Manny scores, but the throw is terrible. If they had A real major league arm in right field (like Dewey Evans), Manny would have been held to third, or gunned down. It would have taken a good throw, but the throw they got was terrible.

I know, you want to send Karl Snyder to the minors. If you think that, please go home. He made, and I count, ONE bad pitch. It was a bad one, but there was only one. The first batter hit a single, but it was a poorly hit ball that found its way up the middle. Those things happen. The home run pitch to the next batter was bad. Varitek called for a fastball outside, and Snyder threw it inside, right in the lefty wheelhouse. Tip your hat to Snyder for getting the next three outs in a row in fine fashion. That is the sign of a good professional. He did not fall apart, he sucked it up, knowing he just blew the lead, and did his job. That's what we need in a middle reliever.

Other good pitching - Javier Lopez great job, and Okajima picked up right where he left off. For the competition, old friends Embree, Foulke and DiNardo all looked good.

If you've been reading, you know my one complaint about Ellsbury is his hesitation going up for balls against the wall. While tonight's terrific catch does not quite fit into that category (it was enough in front of the wall to create a different situation for the outfielder), it was a wonderful catch, worthy of Coco Crisp. And let's all tip our hats to Brandon Moss' first career home run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Amazing!

Then, another gift from Oakland when Brown somehow decides he wants to go to third on a double that already drove in a run in the 10th. What he was thinking was that the throw was going home, giving him time to get to third. But, Youk cut the throw off, and Brown was dead.

Papelbon looked good, not great. But, it is early, and it is Asia. Let's give them a chance to settle in. The A's could have easily won that game, but mistakes cost them the game.

Manny is the hero, and goat, of the game. Great hitting, and he looks in tip top shape. His failure to run hard on a hit he thought was a home run in the 10th is terrible. In the end, it made no difference. He would never had made it tho third, and the winning runs scored. But, he's luck he made it to second.

So, good start, lots of heart, lots of damage from the middle of the order, and with Papi's bat cold, Manny stepped up. Nice start.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Game On!

It is here at last - opening day! By the time you read this, the game may very well be over. But heading into the game, let me give you something to chew on.

The batting order that has been communicated at this point is as follows:

JD Drew

If it does not jump out at you, let me give you a hint. Look at the top of the order. Wouldn't you expect Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off? He did a great job of getting on base last season, and when he gets on base he creates all kinds of trouble for the defense. With his speed he can practically score from first on a sacrifice fly! While that is an exaggeration, he DID score from second base on a wild pitch last year.

So, what gives? Pedroia is a fine batter, but a s...l...o...w runner. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure exactly why the order is the way it is. You may hear that they don't want to put Ellsbury right in the spotlight to start off his "official" rookie season. Well, I would not give that theory much credit. They put Jacoby in the lead off spot as a replacement for the injured Coco Crisp in the World Series! There is no bigger stage than that. If they are willing to bat him lead off in the World Series, then opening day is not a big deal.

Here the real (most likely) reason. Jacoby has not had a great spring offensively. He is not their regular lead off batter (ala Johnny Damon for a few years). So, they are playing him relative to how he is playing right now. I guarantee he will not spend much time batting 8th this season. Terry Francona is simply putting him in a low pressure part of the order while he is looking for his groove at the plate and letting him get his stroke back with less urgency than if he was batting lead off.

Look for Dice-K to have a great game. He is at home, in comfortable surroundings, playing in front of an adoring home crowd. This should be a great game for him. The one thing to watch there is removing a starter during a game is a bigger deal than in the US. I'm sure that won't sway Francona, but I wonder how the Japanese fans will react to it. This time of year, I don't expect starters to go more than 6 innings.

Game On!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sox almost boycott Japan

Interesting story developing today about the Sox almost boycotting the trip to Japan. Apparently, during negotiations leading up to the players agreeing to the trip, it was agreed that the coaches and staff would receive a stipend of roughly $40,000 for making the trip. However, yesterday Terry Francona found out that the stipend was being given to the players, but it was not being extended to the coaches and staff. The coaches and staff are not part of the players union and have very little leverage in negotiating these types of issues.

You should be proud, Sox fans, that our players stepped up. They took a vote, and it was unanimously agreed that they would sit out today's spring training game against the Blue Jays, and would boycott tonight's flight unless MLB stepped up and paid the stipend as originally promised. This was confirmed, and most likely instigated, by our very own Captain, Jason Varitek. Well, it seems to have worked - the game got played, and the flight is on.

All I can say is, way to go Sox! Most of the players' salaries are high enough where the stipend will not make a huge difference for them. But, to the coaches and staff, this stipend is significant, and was promised. Past team trips to Japan have provided this stipend, so I'm not sure where MLB missed this.

To me, this is a good sign of a unified team who are all looking out for each other - no 25 players and 25 cabs these days. I can tell you, a tight, unified team will always have more success. We are off on a good foot. Next stop....Tokyo.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Surprised by Mirabelli's Release?

You should be. This is not earth shattering news, but if you are intrigued, then you are paying attention. Doug Mirabelli has been the Sox primary backup catcher since 2002. He is very competent defensively, and is better than most at handling the knuckle ball, which allows the Sox to get the most out of Tim Wakefield, while providing regular rest for Jason Varitek. Mirabelli has never been a great hitter, but has been occasionally clutch and does reasonably well for a part time player. He became a free agent after 2007, but was re-signed this winter to a one year $550,000 contract. So, what changed since they signed the new contract?

Well, Doug's batting has been slowly declining since 2004, but he batted a reasonable .273 in six games this spring. Also, his age has been slowly increasing. Doug is 37 years old this year. That is not ancient, but it makes sense that the Sox would want to get younger at catcher. With Varitek turning 36 next month, they clearly need to be grooming the catchers of the future. My guess is that is exactly what is happening, but I do wonder why they signed Mirabelli to a new contract - wouldn't that have already been apparent? Well, perhaps they wanted to make sure someone could catch Wakefield, and Doug was their guy until someone else stepped up. So, who's stepping up? Who is the guy that has proven to them that they no longer need Mirabelli? Tim Wakefield has started 3 games so far this spring. For every inning of those three starts, his catcher has been Doug Mirabelli. If someone is taking his place, wouldn't you want to see that person handle Wakefield in at least one game this spring?

You may have read and heard that his successor is apparently Kevin Cash. If that is true, that is nothing more than a short term fix. Kevin Cash is not the catcher of the future for the Sox. I like the guy, but he is 30 years old, and only occasionally has he shown big league potential. He failed to stick with the Blue Jays, playing with them from 2002 to 2004 when he went to Tampa Bay. He had one spotty year with the D-Rays in 2005 and spent all of 2006 in the minors. When you can't make it with the Devil Rays, you've got to wonder. He was a decent fill-in last year for the Sox when Mirabelli was injured. But, how many catchers suddenly become big league material starting in their 30's? So, if Kevin Cash starts the season in Boston, it will be purely to be a backup catcher for this year, and the Sox must feel that he'll give them a little more than Mirabelli would have.

But, look further. There are two other young catchers coming along in the Sox system, Dusty Brown and George Kottaras. These guys are young, 25 and 24 years old respectively, and are looking pretty good, both of then batting over .400 this spring. So, do the Sox have hopes that one of these guys will take Mirabelli's place? Not sure, especially since neither of them has caught Wakefield in a game this spring. More likely, these guys are potential guys to take over for Varitek as the starter in a couple years. If that's what they hope, they won't waste their playing time sitting on the bench and solely catching the knuckle ball. So, the more they like these guys, the more likely they'll be in Pawtucket this year.

So, like I said, if you are intrigued, you are paying attention. I think the most likely situation is that they simply felt Mirabelli's skills, mostly due to age, have declined, and they want to break the mold of having a knuckle ball specialist as a catcher. They want more flexibility than that, and are willing to sacrifice a few extra passed balls to get a younger, hotter catcher as a backup, and Kevin Cash may be able to provide that. There is one other possibility that would not surprise me. It is conceivable that there is a trade pending that could being a new catcher into the picture. But, you would think they'd hang on to Mirabelli until the ink was dry first.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Can the Red Sox top Billy Crystal?

I have been hearing it on the radio, on the street and in the papers. The Yankees are (reluctantly) conceding that the Red Sox have become the team to beat. The Yankees have been shaken from the 2004 devastating loss to the Red Sox in the ALCS. The Yankees are desperate and clawing at anything to leapfrog back ahead of the Red Sox. I heard all of these things, and even after the firing of Joe Torre, I have been reluctant to believe it. Until now.

Have you heard the Yankees are giving Billy Crystal a shot at the big leagues tomorrow? He will officially be signed to a minor league contract (details of which are not available here), and that gives him the opportunity to win a spot on the big league roster. He is already slated to be a starter in the game against the Pirates this Thursday. But, who are the Yankees kidding? Sure, Billy Crystal is a devoted, life-long fan of the Yankees. Who can deny that? How many fans have gone to the trouble to make a movie about their favorite team? (the 2001 movie was "61*" and told the story of Roger Maris' 61 home run season - a good movie). But if they are trying out Billy Crystal, I will concede, the Yankees are surely desperate.

Can this be rational? Billy Crystal is turning 60 years old. Isn't that too old for MLB? Well, Satchel Paige pitched at the "official" age of 59 (no joke), so maybe there's a precedent. More recently, we've had old timers like Nolan Ryan and Julio Franco rolling the old wheelchair out onto the field. My guess, given that we are in the 21st century, is that Billy is taking a page from another adored Yankee player who showed us all how the simple adoption of modern medicine can allow you to continue to play year after year. Yes, Roger Clemens. Isn't it obvious? Billy Crystal was a regular figure at Yankee stadium during Roger's best years with the Yankees. Billy Crystal had a big fan in George Steinbrenner. So, Billy Crystal uses his fame to get himself access to the Yankee clubhouse, befriends Clemens, and shares with Roger his plan to get in shape and make the team someday. Roger, ever the baseball mentor, takes Crystal under his wing, introduces him to his own personal trainer, Brian MacNamee, and the next thing you know, Billy Crystal will come strutting out of the dugout tomorrow looking like a wrinkled version of Jose Canseco.

So, clearly the Yankees have outdone themselves this time. They are indeed desperate. But, they are clever. While the rest of the league explores untapped baseball talent across Asia and South America, the Yankees are the only ones exploring the untapped resources of Hollywood. It seems so obvious now, doesn't it? It was right under our noses the whole time! But, again, I think the Red Sox can outsmart them at their own game. Billy Crystal did not portray a baseball player in his movie, he directed it. Where the Red Sox (are you listening Theo?) can counter this is by going hard after Kevin Costner, and they need to do so before the Yankees think of it. Not only has Kevin Costner been associated with baseball movies, but he has played the parts of baseball players and adoring fans of baseball. I know what you are thinking - but is he a Red Sox fan? Well, maybe not to the extent that Billy Crystal is a Yankees fan, but in "Field of Dreams", which ballpark did he drive across the country to attend a game, Yankee Stadium? No, it was Fenway Park. That's good enough for me. And not only has he proven his love for the game in "Field of Dreams", but he also played a catcher in "Bull Durham" and a pitcher in "For the Love of the Game". We all know how valuable pitchers and catchers are.

Just imagine our first game against the Yankees when they trot out their new secret weapon in Billy Crystal, and then see the looks on their faces when Kevin Costner strides out of the dugout and takes the mound for the Red Sox. What a sight that would be!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Red Sox Pitching Progress

You've heard it a million times now - pitching wins championships. The point being that solid pitching is the foundation a team needs to start from. So, how does the pitching situation look for the Red Sox so far? Very promising!

Bad news - Schilling is out for a significant period of time. A healthy Schilling eats up innings, provides a solid veteran presence, can handle pressure, and is a proven post-season star. He will be missed, but that is nearly all the bad news!


It was very confusing last year why Dice-K looked so good earlier in games, and earlier in the season. For a while, hitters were incredibly off balance, than later they were not. Well, according to pitching coach John Farrell, they discovered Dice-K was tipping his change-up. Not a good thing. The change-up is a fairly easy pitch to hit - IF you know it is coming. The change-up is a stealth pitch. To the batter, the pitcher looks like he is throwing a fast ball. However, due to a different way of gripping the ball, the pitch comes in roughly 10 miles per hour slower. It will either confuse the batter long enough to force him to take the pitch, or get him swinging too early. Anyway (you know all that already), if the batter knows it is coming, watch out! So, they've worked with Dice-K on perfecting the change-up and early indications are that the adjustments are working! This can make a huge difference!

Bartolo Colon looks like a steal so far. Throwing very well, mechanics are solid, and arm strength is great! If he keeps this up, don't be surprised he works his way into the #3 spot in the rotation! But, coming off of injuries the past two years, my concern is whether the elbow will last an entire season, or get sore again?

Tim Wakefield seems to be over his back issues and throwing well. Beckett is in better shape than last year and looks poised to dominate again! John Lester looked good in his last outing, and got some important post season experience last year.

As of today, my starting 5 for the Sox:
1) Josh Beckett (obviously)
2) Daisuke Matsuzaka (look for at least as good of a year as last year)
3) Bartolo Colon (presuming the elbow stays strong - may start in AAA for the first game or two)
4) Tim Wakefield (an effective knuckler keeps batters uncomfortable)
5) John Lester (nice to have a left starter)

Julian Tavarez - long relief - spot starter
Karl Snyder - long relief - spot starter
Mike Timlin - middle relief - occasional setup man - spot closer
Manny Delcarmen - middle relief
Javier Lopez - need a lefty in the 'pen
Hideki Okajima - setup man - occasional closer
Jonathan Papelbon - Closer

Buchholz or Hansack may start the season with Boston if Colon is not ready. They'll probably spend most of their time in Pawtucket, and get called up as needed. If there is a significant injury, or they simply shine, they may stick longer. Gronkiewicz, Corey, Tejera and Masterson are all potential call ups as needed, but expect them to play mostly in the minors. They would be available to replace Tavarez, Snyder or Lopez if they aren't getting the job done.

That leaves Craig Hansen. So far, he still looks disappointing. He hit the Sox with such promise, but has shown very little since then. He throw very well, has a strong arm, but just can't get guys out. Not sure if it is mental, or perhaps predictability. Hopefully he can turn it around this year and start moving up!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Where are the young pitchers?

It is VERY early still, and spring training is going very smoothly for the Red Sox. Everyone is healthy, progressing well, and getting the work in.

But, have you noticed how the veteran pitchers are outshining the youngsters so far? The Red Sox have terrific depth in their young pitchers, and with the success we saw from guys like Lester and Buchholz last fall, I think we all are looking for the young guys to make a big splash this year. Alternatively, I usually see the veteran pitchers easing through spring training, not looking so good early on, but trying to peak for opening day.

Well, so far that has been backward in Fort Myers. The youth are starting the slowest (Lester 36.0 ERA, Hansen 18.0 ERA, Buchholz 18.0 ERA, Jackson 27.0 ERA, Gronkiewicz 10.12 ERA). These stats are based on no more than 2.2 innings of work, but it is interesting seeing the young guys starting out so slow.

The "veterans" (some of whom are pretty young too) are looking pretty strong out of the gates. Dice-K 1.80 ERA, Snyder 0.00 ERA, Wakefield 0.00 ERA, Timlin 0.00 ERA, Papelbon 0.00 ERA, and Okajima 0.00 ERA. Beckett has not pitched in an "official" game yet (pitching once to Boston College and once in a 'B' game) but he also has a 0.00 ERA and his only complaint is that he's too strong (overthrowing the fastball and getting too much elevation on it early in the game).

So, the older guys look good - Sox fans need to be happy about that. The young guys? Well, give them more work - plenty of time left.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Is Clemens Rational?

They have officially sent the FBI after Roger Clemens to investigate the possibility that he committed some form of perjury during his visit to congress. Hearing that made me truly pause and reflect on WHAT THE HELL IS CLEMENS THINKING? Obviously he is not thinking very clearly, that much is certain.

So far, all the evidence really seems to support the notion that Clemens did, in fact, receive steroid and HGH injections from Brian MacNamee. Suppose for a second we presume this is indeed what happened. I can see Clemens making an official statement through his attorney somehow denying the accuracy of the claim and leaving it at that. But, to hold a press conference stating you have NEVER been given even a single steroid or HGH injection, and then reaffirm those statements in front of congress, knowing you are out and out lying, is nothing short of ludicrous! He is wealthy, had a successful career, and is preparing for life after baseball. Why risk a prison sentence to go along with it? I just don't get it!

However, if MacNamee is the one who is lying, Clemens is doing the worst job possible of convincing anyone of his innocence. He provides no story of his own about what took place, only offering denials of all MacNamee's claims. His responses to Andy Pettitte's testimony are juvenile and not believable. Nothing really makes sense. If he was truly innocent, I would think he could explain things in a believable, coherent manner. The fact that he cannot do so makes me feel that he is simply lying and trying to cover things up. My bet is that he feels the whole case is not provable either way, so he'll simply take a side and stick to it knowing it cannot be proven. Looks like it was not such a good strategy.

He should have simply kept quiet and left the doubt out there and avoided further embarrassment and humiliation, possibly topped off with a jail sentence. Maybe he can room with Bonds.