Clemens, McNamee star in farce

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WASHINGTON --- The strikes kept piling up. Three, four, five and more against both men, almost too many to count over the span of 41/2 hours. And after all that, nobody was called out.

Roger Clemens stuck to the same story Wednesday he's repeated a handful of times since the Mitchell Report was released.

He never took any performance-enhancing drugs. The end.

He was reminded more than once that he was under oath. Yet Clemens simply brushed back the damning testimony of perhaps his closest friend in baseball, Andy Pettitte, and another former teammate, Chuck Knoblauch, then glossed over several other inconsistencies in his version of events and simply ignored the rest.

Clemens walked out of Congress with lawyers at both elbows and his head held high. And when he finally stepped out under an appropriately gray sky, he still had his seven Cy Young Awards, his supporters and his millions intact -- just about everything except his reputation.

Brian McNamee, Clemens' former personal trainer and chief accuser, was called a cheat and a liar and just for good measure, a "drug dealer" at one point by overzealous Republican Christopher Shays.

But when he walked out into that same chilly afternoon, his reputation was intact -- maybe because it couldn't go much lower.

And McNamee wasn't about to let go of that.

"I told the investigators I injected three people -- two of whom I know confirmed my account," McNamee said. "The third is sitting at this table."

So now the whole matter could be turned over to the Justice Department.

"I haven't reached any conclusions at this point," said California Democrat Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

If you want a score, this is as close as anybody came to providing one. On his second go-round with Clemens, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings was frank, essentially repeating McNamee's contention.

"If I walked in here, and it was even-steven, you and Mr. McNamee, I must admit that the person I believe most," he said pausing, "is Mr. Pettitte."

What's hard to believe is that this farce took place. The questions broke largely along party lines with the Democrats trying to prop up McNamee and Republicans throwing softballs at Clemens.

Just as he was about to finish his questions, Missouri Democrat William Lacy Clay blurted out, "A colleague of mine, Mr. Capuano of Massachusetts, wants to know what uniform will you wear into the Hall of Fame."

Something tells me that's a question he won't have to worry about for a long time.

Reach Jim Litke at jlitke@ap.org.

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