The Week That Was in Baseball: February 4-10, 2008
Clemens vs. McNamee: Will the Real Liar Please Stand? Hillary the Kissing Bandit
Cocky Jocks in the Dominican Republic Lockin' Them in Before Arbitration

To Tell the Truth
Brian McNamee insists, under the threat of perjury, that he injected Roger Clemens with steroids 16 times between 1998-2001. Clemens vehemently and categorically denies that it happened even once. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: One of these guys is a lying rat. This coming Wednesday in Washington, we may finally find out which one it is when McNamee and Clemens—along with Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Kirk Radomski—answer questions directly and under oath before a nationwide TV audience. All five men have already been deposed under oath behind closed doors in separate meetings, but the public grand theater to take place before Congress could very well make the Mark McGwire-Rafael Palmeiro-etc.-etc. hearings of three years ago a forgettable spring training tune-up by comparison. Clemens will have two likely fronts to fight while before Congress: The possible introduction of evidence reportedly handed over from McNamee that could link him to steroids; and the testimony of ex-teammates Pettitte and Knoblauch (who lost his game of hide-and-seek with Congress), both of whom may corroborate McNamee’s statements. A Perry Mason moment is not guaranteed, but it’s far too much of a possibility to leave C-SPAN off your TV on Wednesday.

Debbie Does What?!
Now even Debbie Clemens, Roger’s wife, is being accused of taking steroids, according to the sworn testimony of Brian McNamee. If true, we have a suggestion for Mrs. Clemens the next time she wants to consider HGH for a Sports Illustrated shoot: Try Photoshop instead.

A League of His Own
Categories on ESPN’s “Bottom Line” ticker this past Wednesday evening: MLB, NBA, NCAAF, NCAAM, NFL, NHL and Clemens.

Fowl Play
The headline blared, “Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal are Cockfighters,” and we couldn’t help but wince. Actually, the Hall-of-Famer and future Hall-of-Famer were unknowingly caught on tape smiling together and watching roosters go at it in a cockfighting venue in the Dominican Republic. The clip was a big hit on You Tube before it got removed, and before Bud Selig gets a chance to threaten suspensions, it should be noted that cockfighting is legal in the Dominican Republic.  (It’s actually legal in two U.S. states. Can you guess which ones? The answer is below.) If for anything else just to get free air time, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has suggested that Martinez and Marichal take an animal sensitivity training course.

An Imperfection to a Perfect Winter
The Boston Red Sox seem to have had it all going into the 2008 season: A world championship, resigned veterans, hot young prospects, a free pass from the Mitchell Report—even a vow from Manny Ramirez to show up on time for spring training (see below). That sterling momentum hit a pothole this past week when a dispute flared up over Curt Schilling’s health for the coming campaign. The right shoulder that saddled Schilling with long stints on the shelf in 1995 and 1999 has been severely ailing during the offseason, and now Schilling’s long-time personal doctor Craig Morgan says he needs surgery that will likely keep him off the mound for the entire 2008 season. But the Red Sox, not wild about paying a 41-year old pitcher $8 million to sit on the disabled list, want to take a non-surgical “conservative” approach that would allow him to pitch at some point in the season. Schilling has apparently bowed to the Red Sox’ opinion and has received a cortisone shot to begin their rehab. Morgan remains skeptical, telling the Providence Journal that “the percentage of him being able to pitch effectively with (the Red Sox’) treatment is probably between zero and five per cent."

That's Just Manny Not Being Manny
A report states that Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez is “getting serious this offseason.” Knowing Ramirez, all this translates to is that he may show up to spring training on time—for once.

Dario and a Friend Named Joe
This week brings our latest installment of They Were There, with former major leaguer Dario Lodigiani speaking to TGG’s Ed Attanasio about being robbed of the opportunity to end good friend Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak (when it was at 25), his kick-back experience playing ball and drinking on Hawaii during World War II, and a funny story involving himself, DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe during a fishing excursion. Check it out here.

Le Grand Goof
The news and notes page for the Washington Nationals on Yahoo’s web site is entitled Expos Team Report. Almost makes you curious to see if there’s a “Colt .45s Team Report” as well.

Answer From Above
Cockfighting is legal within the United States in New Mexico (often confused as a foreign country) and Louisiana (which is a foreign country).

In honor of the Chicago Cubs' 100th anniversary of their last World Series title, This Great Game is counting down the 40 years between 1909 and 2007 in which the Cubs came nearest to winning another. Our Tragical History Tour of Wrigleyville continues this week with:

38. 1946 82 Wins, 71 Losses
Third Place, 14.5 Games Back
After winning the NL pennant without having to rely on so many wartime replacement players as other teams, the Cubs faced reality in 1946 as the majors returned to full strength and instantly caught up to—and surpassed, in some cases—the team’s talent level. Hank Borowy, a year after winning 20 games, was reduced to a nondescript 12-10 record, while Phil Cavaretta, who led the NL with a .355 average in 1945, was brought back down to Earth with a .293 mark; his eight homers and 78 RBIs were good enough to lead the team, numbers that underscored the Cubs’ team hitting deficiencies. Injuries befell numerous everyday players from the year before, including Don Johnson, Andy Pafko and Stan Hack. The Cubs never got into the pennant race mix, gradually losing ground on the St. Louis Cardinals as the season progressed. As regressive as the Cubs’ performance was in 1946, it would only get worse; it would be the last time the Cubs would finish above .500 for 17 years.

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Upper Deck's Lower Cut
The Upper Deck baseball card company recently began issuing special cards showing most of the 2008 presidential candidates illustrated as famous baseball-related personalities. John McCain is Ted Williams; Fred Thompson is Babe Ruth; Barack Obama is Jermaine Dye; Mitt Romney is Carlton Fisk, waiving and trying to will the ball fair from the 1975 World Series (in the now-departed Romney’s case, that ball must have gone foul). And Hillary Clinton? No, she’s not Helene Britton, the majors’ first woman owner, or any of the ladies who starred in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the early 1940s. Instead, Upper Deck has Clinton as Morganna the Kissing Bandit, the busty blonde who stormed ballfields during the 1970s and 1980s to put the squeeze on famous major leaguers. According to an AP story, Upper Deck felt Clinton and Morganna made for a good match because “like Clinton, (Morganna) saw something she liked and went after it.” That comparison didn’t sit well with those of the more politically correct persuasion, so Upper Deck has pulled the card (shown below)—and it’s now selling for as high as $175 on eBay.

Deal of the Week
Curtis Granderson, who had something of a breakout year in 2007, was locked up for five years by the Detroit Tigers this past week at an overall cost of $30 million. The move is the latest in a trend in which major league teams sign long-term contracts for young players like David Wright, Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki who are not yet eligible for arbitration, hoping to avoid the bank-busting deals they’d have to negotiate down the line. It’s working for the Mets with Wright and Reyes, and it may very well work for the Tigers and the 26-year old Granderson, a budding superstar who last year hit .302 with 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 homers and 26 steals (in 27 attempts).

Coming Soon to TGG
Look for our 2007 review in the Yearly Reader section, complete with its accompanying Leaders & Numbers and It Happened In... pages, on the weekend of February 16.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.