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Clemens' embarrassing antics, the key to Texas' emergence and more

My favorite part of the Roger Clemens interview on the Mike & Mike in the Morning radio show Tuesday came when he said steroids could be bad for him because of his family history, and then cited his stepfather's heart attack as evidence.

My second favorite part was when he said he was going to be the same "outgoing" person he's always been. Funny, I missed that side of him. In my experiences covering Clemens over the years, he was intense, dark, snobby, aloof and intimidating, but rarely outgoing. The only times he seemed to really get excited was when another person of close or equal fame was around.

He loved the rich and famous, like himself. As for others, well, they were just bit players in the play in which he starred. So it isn't surprising he's suing his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who was a mere pawn in his game and is now the enemy for telling the truth when pressed by the feds about Clemens' steroid use.

Clemens also repeated the claim that McNamee never gave him steroids or HGH, calling the hosts "Greeny" and "Goli" (Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic). It seems he is intent on repeating these claims until no one believes him (even Greeny said he thought Clemens was guilty).

I texted McNamee as to whether he'd like to respond to Clemens' latest claims, which were timed to counter the release of the Daily News' book American Icon, which Clemens claims is full of "lies." The response from McNamee: "Noooo! Sorry." Which makes sense. It's best to quit while you're ahead. And while we're still in the fifth inning of this drama, it's about 20-zip for McNamee.

I will never understand Clemens' "strategy" of denial on 60 Minutes (which I watched with McNamee) and in front of Congress, but I do suspect that since Clemens was so impressed by celebrity, he figured everyone else would be, too. I don't believe, as some have hypothesized, that Clemens believes his own lies. His stuttering denials aren't even close to convincing. Perhaps Clemens thought using performance-enhancing drugs was justified to enhance a career he felt his admirers were enjoying immensely and deserved to enjoy more; in his mind, he believes he was doing it to help his fans, his subjects, his followers and other pawns in his play.

But now he is helping no one with these lies, least of all himself. While the feds haven't made their move on him yet, I firmly believe -- and many baseball people believe -- he has more chance to wind up in jail than Barry Bonds. Bonds' alleged crime is that he told a grand jury years ago that he didn't "knowingly" take steroids. He didn't do that in front of Congress or on a national news show. And as one baseball person said to me yesterday, there's something almost admirable in Bonds' defiance. Maybe, maybe not. But I do think six years is long enough to pursue a case against someone who tells a murky story about steroids, even under oath.

Sources say Clemens is being pursued even harder by the feds at this point. Sources say the feds are taking their time and making sure they get their man. Taking steroids may be a silly reason to go to jail, but I don't feel sorry for Clemens, whose ego is as big as all of Texas. As hard as it is to fathom, I am starting to feel sorry for Bonds.

Bonds didn't drag his wife into it like Clemens did. Bonds didn't drag his buddy's father (Andy Pettitte's dad) into it like Clemens did. Bonds didn't lie about anyone else like Clemens did. Bonds didn't falsely sue anyone like Clemens did. Right now, Bonds looks like the better guy. And more important, he looks like the guy with the better case, too.

Two summers ago Rangers GM Jon Daniels knew he had to trade Mark Teixeira. Teixeira had rejected their $140 million, eight-year offer, and it was becoming fairly clear he didn't want to remain with the Rangers long term. Daniels wanted to replenish their system, and this was the way to do it.

So far, so good.

The haul Daniels received from the Braves looked impressive then, and it looks even better today, with the Rangers the surprise American League West leaders at 18-14. The four main players Daniels received for Teixeira all look like they'll be fit somewhere between strong contributor and star. Left-hander Matt Harrison just threw a shutout, 20-year-old Elvis Andrus has replaced longtime star Michael Young as the starting shortstop without a blip, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is no longer looking like a DH, and big-time pitching prospect Neftali Feliz is hitting 100 mph on the farm.

"It's really early, but we're happy with it," Daniels said.

Just like he was as a free agent last winter, Teixeira was a hot commodity in the summer of 2007. (He wasn't nearly as coveted as a trade target last summer, as he was in his walk year, and the best the Braves could do was Casey Kotchman.) But inquiring teams knew they would be getting Teixeira for only a year-and-a-half max. Daniels maximized the take. While he was focused on the Braves, he had serious talks with the Red Sox, Angels, Yankees, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, as well. The Angels didn't want to give up Joe Saunders (smart move), the Yankees didn't want to part with Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes (and had the cash to sign Teixeira later, anyway, for $180 million) and the Dodgers wouldn't budge on their best prospects.

The Red Sox and D-backs (who offered some of the same prospects that went later for Dan Haren) made the next-best bids. But in terms of quality and quantity, nobody could match the Braves' offer. Rangers bosses didn't press Daniels to get immediate help, so with that in mind, the Braves' package was far and away the best one.

Andrus is a prototypical shortstop who's a terrific baserunner and gives the power-hitting Rangers a different look. "I couldn't be happier with the early returns," Daniels said about Andrus.

The early returns on Saltalamacchia's defense last year were not good. His blocking and legwork were amateurish, and that's being kind. But he's become very usable behind the plate, and is no longer just an offensive player (he's hitting .261 with three homers and 14 RBIs). "The improvement in his defense is among the most encouraging things I've seen this year," Daniels said.

Harrison (3-2, 4.79) is the big durable left-hander they sought. He has thrown 15 scoreless innings over his last two starts, including a 6-0 shutout of the White Sox in his most recent effort. And Feliz could join left-handed phenom Derek Holland in the 'pen within weeks. Feliz may have the biggest upside of all the players acquired in this ridiculous haul.

Daniels has taken hits for a couple previous trades (John Danks, Chris Young), but this one alone may more than make up for those deals.

Aubrey Huff is my new hero after mocking talented-yet-immature Yankee Joba Chamberlain with a couple fist pumps to celebrate a homer Sunday. Someone needs to tell Joba to tone it down. I'm not sure this will work. But hey, it's a start.

Casey Blake apparently did the same to Giants closer Brian Wilson, though it was done more subtly than Huff. (I watched that Blake homer live on TV and didn't even notice the crossed-arms gesture.) However, it was clear to Wilson, who appeared distraught in the Giants' clubhouse afterward. Apparently his celebratory gesture was a way to commemorate his late father. Not that Blake could have possibly known, however.

Jonathan Papelbon should be the next target of hitters. Paps' celebrations are downright nutso. His gyrations after getting out of a recent Rays jam were much greater than when he closed out the World Series two years ago. If Huff tries to mock that one, he'll wind up on the disabled list.

In any case, it's better to confine this sort of on-field celebration to something worth celebrating. A strikeout or two certainly doesn't qualify.

Curtis Granderson and Torii Hunter made game-saving, over-the-wall catches in the past few days, but I'll take Granderson's since it prevented a loss, whereas Hunter's merely prevented a tie. There are some pretty good all-around center fielders playing now. Here's my list of the best:

1. Carlos Beltran, Mets: Could be MVP, though Albert Pujols remains a hurdle.2. Josh Hamilton, Rangers: Has to stay healthy, though.3. Hunter, Angels: Great at every phase of game, great in clubhouse.4. Grady Sizemore, Indians: Very nice player, but somewhat overrated in my book.5. Granderson, Tigers: Great tools, great guy. But could be more aggressive.6. Nate McLouth, Pirates: Very nice player, but overrated defensively.7. Matt Kemp, Dodgers: Incredible talent could rise to top spot.8. Adam Jones, Orioles: Will also shoot up.9. B.J. Upton, Rays: Should climb list, too.10. Rick Ankiel, Cardinals: Must stay away from walls to keep this great story going.11. Chris Young, D-backs: Slipped with other D-back teammates lately.12. Shane Victorino, Phillies: Very good team man.13. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Will only get better.

• The Dodgers already don't look the same without Manny Ramirez. Psychologically, it's got be a blow.

• Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was severely disappointed by Ramirez's 50-game suspension, but he was said to have accepted the news better than anyone expected. McCourt didn't try to challenge baseball's findings. By all accounts, he handled it with grace. No kidding.

• It took Ramirez three days to apologize to McCourt, and it appears his embarrassment is such that he is reticent to talk to his team (though the Los Angeles Times reports that Manny is planning to meet up with his teammates this weekend in Miami, where he lives). His date in front of a TV camera appears a long way off, as well, though eventually it would be preferable for him to speak publicly about it.

• Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin showed what kind of class act he is by managing two days with the news that he was about to be fired, and GM Josh Byrnes has credited Melvin for his grace under fire. The reason Melvin knew ahead of time is that Byrnes felt the need to be honest once news reports started to leak. Just a couple honest, classy guys. Too bad it wasn't working.

• A couple D-backs executives were batting around possible replacements several days ago -- Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell and their own well-regarded minor league manager Brett Butler were two names tossed around -- when someone asked A.J. Hinch, "Would you ever like to manage?" When Hinch replied, "Heck yeah!" the replacement was found. (Side note: the D-backs are 1-4 since Hinch's hiring.)

• Who slipped more quickly in power and production, Marcus Giles or brother Brian? Marcus has disappeared. Brian hit 149 home runs from 1999-2002, and has hit 98 in the six-plus seasons since. This year he is hitting .158 with one home run in 120 at-bats. I've seen speculation he could be traded this summer. But he's going to have to do a lot better for anyone to take his $9 million salary.

Frank Catalanotto going to the Brewers made sense from the moment the Rangers released him. Brewers GM Doug Melvin has always been a Cat man.

Ryan Zimmerman ... simply amazing. For the record, games Nos. 56 and 57 are June 10 and 11 versus Cincinnati. Seeing as the Nats are expected to take ultra-hyped hurler Stephen Strasburg with the first pick of the MLB draft on June 9, that has the potential to be quite a week for the downtrodden franchise (let's not get ahead of ourselves with Zimmerman, though).

• Marlins prospect Cameron Maybin had his moments before being sent down but still looked like he might be a year away.

David Wright and Jose Reyes have disappointed at least one Mets official so far. "Maybe they have a hot streak in them."

• The Mets look nervous whenever Johan Santana pitches, like they're not going to live up to his standards. And they often don't. Crazy that they're 4-3 in his starts with his 0.78 ERA.

• Credit Derek Jeter for accepting the leadoff spot and Joe Girardi (yes, Girardi deserves credit) for thinking of the idea, but Johnny Damon (9 HR, 25 RBIs, .320 batting average) has looked even better as a No. 2 hitter than he did at leadoff. Without his hitting heroics, who knows where the Yankees would be?

• My twitter goal is to catch Nick Swisher, who still leads me by about 98,000 followers. Follow me throughout the day on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman.

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