Tales from the Trail

Judge in Clemens steroids case has brush with another baseball star

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton probably feels like he is living and breathing baseball these days. He is presiding over the case about whether former pitching ace Roger Clemens lied to Congress about not using steroids and human growth hormones, and he comes from the same hometown as baseball superstars Ken Griffey Sr. and Stan Musial.

RogerClemensDuring a brief court hearing on Wednesday, Walton alerted the lawyers involved in the case that he had run into Griffey Sr. a couple of months ago in their tiny hometown of Donora, Pennsylvania, and that the former outfielder remarked that  Clemens was “a good guy.”

Walton said that he told Griffey Sr. that he could not discuss the case with him and that “I don’t believe he was seeking to influence me.” The judge said he wanted to alert both sides about the incident so they had the opportunity to raise any objections they might have.

Clemens’ lead defense lawyer, Rusty Hardin, quipped: “Are we allowed to say amen?”

The prosecutor was a little more circumspect, raising no objection about the incident.

Washington Extra – summer reading

While President Barack Obama went book shopping on Martha’s Vineyard and bought a novel about a family from the Midwest –“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen — Vice President Joe Biden was out in the Midwest talking the talk in St. Louis. OBAMA/

VPOTUS assured Democratic Party leaders that they would retain control of Congress in November because Republicans were out of touch.  ”They are going to look at what the Republican Party is really offering — more of the past, but on steroids,” Biden said.

That brings us to the State Department press corps ALMOST asking George Mitchell about baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, but refraining and sticking to the news at hand – a fresh attempt to jumpstart Middle East peace talks with a meeting in Washington next month.

Of diplomacy and baseball…

Timing is everything in diplomacy and baseball.

After months of prickly talks aimed at coaxing Israelis and Palestinians into direct peace talks, U.S. envoy George Mitchell finally had news to share.
But when the U.S. mediator par excellence took the stage for questions Friday at the State Department, reporters tossed him one out of left field.

“As tempted as I am to ask you about Roger Clemens…,” his first questioner began, to chortles from reporters and State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Mitchell, of course, between peacemaking stints in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, took a stab back in 2007 at resolving the conflict between Congress and Major League Baseball over the use of performance-enhancing drugs.