Friday August 20th, 2010

The indictment of Roger Clemens was a formality from the day he told former Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia and Rep. Harry Waxman of California the legal equivalent of, "Gimme the ball." He didn't have to testify at that House committee hearing in 2008. He did so willingly. He did so because Roger Clemens always took the ball, no matter how much cortisone, anti-inflammatories and convincing of his own body -- he always talked about his body like it was not of his self, but rather like a tradesman's tool -- that it took.

And that is why the most pitch-perfect observation anybody made in the immediate wake of the indictment of one of the greatest pitchers of all time came from Davis, who was in that room when Roger was the same old Roger. Davis. Thinking back to Clemens' gambit, Davis called the indictment "a self-inflicted wound."

From that day on, a rational Clemens had to know -- his legal team had to know -- that the possibility of an orange jumpsuit would be in play. He could not expect to tell Congress that he never touched steroids and human growth hormone and that would be the end of it, not with his trainer, Brian McNamee, in the same room. Not with his buddy, Andy Pettitte, having provided a sworn deposition that worked against him. There was far too much discrepancy in front of national television cameras for the U.S. Attorney's Office to simply forget about the whole episode. Clemens had to know this, and it has bothered him none.

So this is the game Clemens wanted. This is the "day in court" he says he has looked forward to. Only now there is more on the line than a big game or his reputation. This is about his freedom as a citizen. To hear Clemens' unconditional denials all these months, this is the path of his own choosing: with no room for plea bargains, no going back, no protests that the feds should have better things to do with their time. It is his life on trial, exactly as he wants it.

Who do you like in the NL Central to go to the playoffs? The Cardinals or Reds? How about both? According to one GM, both are bound for the postseason. "The wild card is coming out of the Central," the GM said. "They have a huge advantage with the schedule down the stretch."

The Reds play 25 of their final 35 games against the four Central doormats (Cubs, Brewers, Pirates and Astros) and the last-place Diamondbacks. The Cardinals play 25 of their final 40 against those same four Central doormats and the last-place Nationals. Those unbalanced schedules are great, aren't they?

It's been a tough year for the big spenders. Seven of the nine biggest spenders in baseball are out of playoff position as of this morning: the Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, Tigers, White Sox, Angels and Giants.

And you have to go back to 2001 to find the last time the greater Chicago and Los Angeles markets were not represented in the postseason.

And four of the five biggest free agent spenders from last winter are on the bubble (Boston) or so far out that they are under .500 (Mets, Brewers, Mariners).

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