By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007
On the night of Oct. 26, 2000, the New York Yankees enjoyed the last moment of a dynasty that defined the 20th century in baseball. Their big-game left-hander from Louisiana, Andy Pettitte, threw seven stellar innings against the New York Mets. They turned to their left-handed specialist, Mike Stanton, to work a perfect eighth inning. When they scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth, Stanton was credited with the win in Game 5 of the World Series, granting the storied franchise the most recent of its 26 championships.
In the celebratory pile at Shea Stadium, however, were an inordinate number of players whose names appeared in the report of former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell on the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
Perhaps the most prominent name of all -- legendary right-hander Roger Clemens -- famously threw a broken bat at Mets catcher Mike Piazza earlier in the Series, and the report details claims by a former conditioning coach who said he injected Clemens with steroids. Pettitte, also a client of the coach, Brian McNamee, is named as well. The report links Stanton to Kirk J. Radomski, the former clubhouse attendant of the New York Mets who cooperated with federal investigators, as well as those from Mitchell's team, in naming players. Other Yankees -- pitchers Denny Neagle and Jason Grimsley, outfielders David Justice and Jose Canseco, second baseman Chuck Knoblauch -- dotted the report.
Indeed, as Mitchell's report was released yesterday, those around baseball reacted not just to the number of names it contained -- more than 90 -- but the prominence of them and the stages on which they played. No fewer than nine players who played for the Yankees in 2000 appeared in the report, with 16 current or former Yankees mentioned at some point.
"When the names come out, it's one of those things where a lot of people will talk about that, about the names," New York Mets catcher Brian Schneider said. "Now, there's no more wondering about who would be in it."
But officials from most major league clubs said they were still wondering what to make of the report, and many, including the Yankees, declined to comment yesterday.
"I'm holding it right now," said Larry Lucchino, president of the Boston Red Sox. "I'm going to take it home and read it. There's a lot to go through."
Of the players mentioned in the report, only Barry Bonds, the career home run king, appears more often than Clemens, and most of Bonds's appearances come from previous media reports. The San Francisco Giants, Bonds's former club, was one of the few teams to address the substance of the Mitchell commission's work.
"The report clearly demonstrates the pervasiveness of the problem," Giants President and Managing General Partner Peter A. Magowan said in a statement. "The Giants accept our fair share of responsibility."
Clemens, however, refuted his involvement yesterday.
"He just emphatically denies everything in there," his attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a telephone interview.
The report, though, offers the testimony of McNamee, a former conditioning coach for the Toronto Blue Jays who later became a personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte. McNamee told Mitchell's investigators that, in the summer of 1998 following a road trip to Florida and a party at the home of former major league slugger Jose Canseco, Clemens asked McNamee to inject him with Winstrol, a common name for the steroid stanozolol that is derived from testosterone.
"McNamee injected Clemens approximately four times in the buttocks over a several-week period with needles that Clemens provided," the report said. According to the report, McNamee said "Clemens's performance showed remarkable improvement" after the injections. Clemens won the fifth of his seven Cy Young Awards that season.
The report said the relationship between Clemens and McNamee continued when Clemens was traded to the Yankees in 1999. At Clemens's behest, the report said, the Yankees hired McNamee as an athletic trainer in 2000, and Clemens paid part of his salary. McNamee told Mitchell's investigators that "Clemens made it clear that he was ready to use steroids again."
McNamee said he injected Clemens with human growth hormone and testosterone from a bottle at Clemens's apartment in New York. McNamee was not re-hired by the Yankees after 2001, but Clemens and Pettitte continued to use McNamee as a personal trainer.
Hardin, Clemens's attorney, said yesterday that he believes McNamee changed his story under pressure from federal investigators, with whom McNamee met this June. Last year, in an interview with SI.com, the Web site for Sports Illustrated, McNamee said: "I don't have any dealings with steroids and amphetamines. I didn't buy it, sell it, condone it or recommend it."
"As adamantly as he has apparently told them that Roger took steroids, he is just as adamant -- even more adamant -- back a year ago that he had no involvement," Hardin said. "If you look at what he said in that [SI] report, it does raise some eyebrows, because there are discrepancies between then and now."
Hardin said McNamee initially denied knowledge of Clemens's steroid use to federal investigators. He said McNamee changed his story when the investigators threatened to charge him as part of a steroid ring. The investigators, Hardin said, then brought in Mitchell's team.
But despite Hardin's objections to McNamee's testimony, he said in a subsequent e-mail that Clemens had no plans to pursue legal action because of the report.
Like Clemens, Pettitte, who recently signed a one-year, $16 million contract to return to the Yankees, is represented by brothers Randy and Alan Hendricks. Randy Hendricks said in a statement last night that Pettitte would remain silent on the matter until consulting with the players' union and other advisors.
"At the appropriate time," Hendricks said, "he will have something to say."
The wait-and-see approach seemed to be prevalent throughout the game yesterday. A top official from one club said: "We're not supposed to talk about it. No one wants to react yet because people are so worried we'll say the wrong thing."
Former commissioner Fay Vincent, in a telephone interview, also reserved judgment. Vincent initially put anabolic steroids under baseball's drug policy in June 1991. But he declined to analyze the fallout from yesterday's report.
"I will say, I think the report was important," Vincent said. "I think Mitchell did a very good job, and I'm supportive of the exercise."
Players, too, largely were hesitant to judge.
"Do they think they got everybody?" said one current player, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Even Mitchell admitted it wasn't complete. They couldn't get everybody. And now people will just focus on the names that are out there."