Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Presumed Innocent
2008-02-27 18:23
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

In this week's Voice, the always provocative Allen Barra weighs in on Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens (but mostly, Andy Pettitte):

Why hasn't Andy Pettitte heard from MLB, and why hasn't there been talk of a suspension? In his deposition to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Pettitte admitted that his father injected him with HGH in 2004. (And surely the most bizarre single piece of evidence to emerge during the entire hearing process is that Pettitte's dad stuck a needle in his son's ass.) In admitting this, Pettitte was in effect also admitting that he had lied to the Mitchell Commission—and thus to Major League Baseball—about the extent of his drug use.

Moreover, Pettitte was admitting to a crime. Though HGH wasn't banned from baseball under the Basic Agreement existing at the time—it wouldn't be added to the list of prohibited substances until 2005—it was and remains illegal unless prescribed for one of three rare diseases. Pettitte has clarified that he used HGH without a prescription. This means that he has admitted to the illegal use of HGH not once but twice, in 2002 and 2004. So where are MLB, the FDA, and the FBI?

It's easy to see who doesn't want to have this issue delved into: Pettitte, who stands to lose a one-year, $16 million contract with the Yankees, and the Yankees themselves. Having been snookered by Omar Minaya and the Mets in the Johan Santana deal, the pitching-hungry Yankees are desperate to hold onto Pettitte, the only capable left-hander on the staff. And there are other parties anxious for closure on the Pettitte story, namely commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball.

Allen's a living, breathing, barroom argument waiting to happen. What do you make of his latest take?

2008-02-27 19:01:26
1.   horace-clarke-era
Nothing to make of it. Barroom idiot with a deadline. Ignoring Mitchell AND sense. The report was explicit in suggesting no retroactive punishments, that the focus should be on moving forwards. Nor is Pettitte the only player acknowledging, er, 'errors' and 'mistakes'. The piece's focus on him would be simple internet trolling if it was in a comment thread. Even cute bits like 'snookered by Omar Minaya' ... as in how, exactly? The trade, last I checked, was with Minny.

Barra is treating this as 'the Pettitte story' and it isn't. Nor would there be a 'Roger story' in the everyday media absent perjury. This was a 'baseball story' with a lot of complicit parties.

2008-02-27 19:08:30
2.   JL25and3
Moreover, Pettitte was admitting to a was and remains illegal unless prescribed for one of three rare diseases.

This is widely repeated, but I believe it's incorrect. It is illegal to prescribe it except for the specified purposes; and, of course, it's illegal to distribute it without a script. But I'm pretty certain there's no law against simple possession or use.

2008-02-27 19:08:39
3.   tomfodw
How were the Yankees "snookered" by the Mets? If the Yankees wanted Santana, they'd have gotten Santana. If anyone was snookered by the Mets, it was the Twins.
2008-02-27 19:31:06
4.   williamnyy23
I agree with 1 . This reads more like the ramblings of a barroom idiot than anything else. To be honest, I am not all that familiar with Barra or his writings, and, after reading this, I'd like to keep it that way.

Aside for the logical idiocy of the piece, the worst thing is that such a small excerpt has so many inaccuracies. For example:

1) Pettitte admitted that his father injected him with HGH in 2004. (And surely the most bizarre single piece of evidence to emerge during the entire hearing process is that Pettitte's dad stuck a needle in his son's ass.)

WRONG! Had Barra taken the time to read the deposition (see following quote), he'd know Pettitte injected himself.

"He ended up bringing me two syringes over to my house. And you know, I injected myself once in the morning and once at night."

2) In admitting this, Pettitte was in effect also admitting that he had lied to the Mitchell Commission

WRONG! Pettitte never spoke to the Mitchell Commission so he most certainly couldn't have lied to it.

3) Moreover, Pettitte was admitting to a crime.

WRONG! If I am not mistaken, in 2004 it was only a crime to possess HGH with intent to distribute. Pettitte's use would not have fallen afoul of the statutes at that time.

4) Having been snookered by Omar Minaya and the Mets in the Johan Santana deal

WRONG! Snookered by Minaya? Did Barra even bother to follow the events? Did he miss how desperately Minnesota wanted to trade him to the Yankees?

That's more mistakes than paragraphs. The only conclusion that I can draw is Barra doesn't know the law, doesn't know baseball and apparently doesn't know how to read. Too bad he knows how to write.

Such a poor piece is so beneath this Blog, I am kind of disappointed to see it posted.

2008-02-27 19:35:55
5.   joejoejoe
Barra accuses Pettitte of lying to Mitchell yet Pettitte never spoke with Mitchell.

From the Mitchell Report, pg. 224: "In order to provide Pettitte with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me; he declined."

If Barra can't get facts in the public record right (he accuses Pettitte of lying to Mitchell, Pettitte never spoke to Mitchell) then why take time to discuss his arguments? Barra calls Pettitte a liar. I call Barra a sloppy hack.

2008-02-27 19:41:52
6.   wsporter
Simple possession of HGH is not a Federal Crime, yet. Not sure about the state laws in Texas or Florida or any applicable limitations on prosecution but our boy doesn't focus on those.

Distribution of HGH without a prescription is a crime. BUT it would be pretty hard to prove the crime if the prosecutor couldn't prove what Andy's Dad was injecting into his boys ass actually was HGH. Without a sample and a lab report there's no chance for an indictment let alone getting a case to a jury. Andy's dad can probably breathe safe.

MLB's own report, the Mitchell report, recommends clemency for admitted users. Sorry, move along, there's nothing to see here either.

I don't think much of his latest take. There's more to good writing than harnessing the ability to string together some pretty sentences; unless you're a dilettante they should also say something cognizable. Maybe he should stop off at that bar and have a couple of drinks. The only people fighting over this article have to be the editors at the Voice who decided to go with it.

2008-02-27 19:43:58
7.   williamnyy23
4 Just to follow-up on the legality of HGH, the article posted below seems to suggest that Pettitte was not guilty of the crime that Barra so righteously accuses him:

* Schumer and Grassley announced a set of proposals, acknowledging the problem that human growth hormone (HGH) is not a controlled substance. HGH is regulated by other laws, but it is not currently illegal to possess HGH, nor is its manufacturing process as closely regulated as that of anabolic steroids.

Schumer's proposal, entitled S.877, would add HGH as a Schedule III substance, equating it with anabolic steroids under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). That requires all legitimate manufacturers, distributors and dispensers of any controlled substance to register with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA.) Manufacturers must keep data on production and disposal of their substances, including information on both sales and destruction.*


2008-02-27 19:48:13
8.   williamnyy23
4 Just a little more of the research that Barra didn't bother to do:

From a Sen. Grassley press release:

"Currently, simple possession of HGH is not a criminal offense. However, inclusion of HGH in the list of controlled substances would mean that if a person possesses HGH without a current, valid prescription, he or she could be prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance. Penalties for possession could be as high as three years imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the case."

2008-02-27 19:49:42
9.   williamnyy23
6 Just to repeat what I stated in 4 , Pettitte's dad DID NOT inject him. He did it himself.
2008-02-27 19:53:15
10.   williamnyy23
By the way, if HGH wasn't placed on the banned list until 2005, and it still isn't illegal to possess in this country, why was the Mitchell Report investigating its use, and why are players being persecuted for taking it?
2008-02-27 21:04:08
11.   JL25and3
10 Because drugs is bad, and they're cheaters.


2008-02-27 21:18:45
12.   weeping for brunnhilde

How many days til Opening Day?

2008-02-27 22:25:56
13.   rilkefan
Hack-work, that article. But at least a few years ago Barra was a fine writer.
2008-02-28 05:53:06
14.   Sliced Bread
I don't always agree with Barra, but I often enjoy his brutally honest take on things.
However, it seems about the only thing he got right here is that Pettitte's ordeal is not over yet.

6 I don't read The Voice much anymore, but I imagine Barra's editors are satisified with this piece (despite it's lack of accuracy). Facts shmacts. Pettitte's the kind of privileged golden boy the downtown hipsters at The Voice like to kick when they can.

2008-02-28 06:51:35
15.   Shaun P
4 Excellent analysis. I have read quite a bit of Barra's work, including things he's posted here, and I'm disappointed to see something like this from him. He is capable of, and almost always produces, much better.

10 hGH KILLS PEOPLE AND DESTROYS THEIR LIVES! Didn't you get the memo?!

/sarcasm off

Non-sarcastic answer: because Bud Selig is a _______ moron.

2008-02-28 07:02:28
16.   wsporter
14 I guess you're right Slice, it's hip to be shrill.

It's weird I generally love Barra's stuff at Salon. This one just pissed me off. It's typical of the effete, snobbish, holier-than-though, uninformed dreck that has oozed from the 'Voice' over the last 20 years.

9 Thanks, I know what the transcript said, I was commenting on what Barra wrote. Sorry I didn't make that more clear but thanks for doing that, my bad. From this small sampling it looks like we didn't think much of this one. I'm greatful that Cliff has supplied a new post. This one could have caused me to have a Banterless day and thats no fun when you have the flu.

2008-02-28 07:28:05
17.   OldYanksFan
11 Drugs is bad? Bummer.
2008-02-28 07:38:25
18.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
Barra is a hack and The Voice is a POS rag. I can't wait until it goes the way of the do-do.
2008-02-28 07:42:43
19.   wsporter
17 If what has happened as a result of this mess wasn't so serious this would be almost comic. How is it that a man didn't break the rules and didn't commit a crime and yet ends up being publicly humiliated and exposed to criminal jeopardy? Very curious that. There seems to be a lot of ass hat going around. Well what could one expect when Uncle Bud and the U.S. Congress team up for a little fun. This seems somehow worthy of Kafka or Millan Kundera at the least.

Remember everyone, without chemicals life itself would be impossible.

2008-02-28 10:17:33
20.   williamnyy23
19 What's more, two men, McNamee and Radomski, who did actually break laws, were given "deals" to provide information about people who didn't break rules or laws. Talk about a perversion of justice.

Also, this just occured to me...where did Kirk Radomski get his HGH/steroid supply? Did the Feds demand that information too, or were they too busy tracking down Paul Loduca's canceled checks.

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