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Wait, did Jon Heyman just accuse Andy Pettitte of perjury?

May 7, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

Andy Pettitte

Last week a lot of people got it totally wrong about Andy Pettitte when they said that he changed his testimony on the stand during the Roger Clemens trial.  As I demonstrated with reference to Pettite’s actual 2008 testimony, Andy Pettitte did not change a thing about his testimony.  He was entirely consistent.

Jon Heyman was one of the guys who got it wrong then, Tweeting that Pettitte “suddenly” changed his testimony.  I guess that’s understandable as a heat of the moment reaction, especially given how it was being played up initially on Twitter and elsewhere.  But now Heyman has had a week to actually, you know, look at the facts. And he either hasn’t bothered to or else he has and doesn’t care, because he’s still wrong:

Suddenly on the stand in federal court last week, Pettitte changed his story about Clemens. And remarkably, he changed it from one day to the next. It is fair to assume he wasn’t being completely truthful one of those two days.

Under questioning by government lawyers, Pettitte, who’s trying for a baseball comeback with the Yankees, said Clemens told him about Clemens’ own HGH use while the pair were working out together back in 1999 or 2000. That was a powerful point against Clemens.

Then only one day later, under questioning by Clemens’ lawyers, Pettitte said he may have misunderstood the key HGH conversation. In fact, it’s now 50-50 he misunderstood, he answered to Clemens attorney Michael Attanasio. “I’d say that’s fair,” Pettitte lamely answered to Attanasio.

He goes on to accuse Pettitte of “bending the truth” to help a friend.  He calls Pettitte’s testimony a “pathetic change-up,” “sudden amnesia,” and a “lame, less-then-honest performance.” There is something lame, pathetic and less-than-honest here, and it’s Heyman’s approach to this story.

As I demonstrated last week, Pettitte’s answers at trial were entirely consistent with his 2008 testimony. He did not change it. He did not say “50/50″ in 2008 because he was not asked to put a probability on the matter then. Why? Because he wasn’t being cross examined in 2008, he was being deposed.  It’s a basic legal point that Heyman would understand if he took a moment to understand basic legal procedure. Not that he has to, of course. But if you’re going to go accusing people of perjury as Heyman clearly does here, you probably should.

The point here is that there is absolutely nothing inconsistent with Pettitte’s 2008 testimony and his “50/50″ testimony last week.  In 2008 he said he was uncertain. Last week he said he was uncertain.  Last week, however, someone thought to ask him how uncertain. They suggested “50/50″ and Pettitte agreed.  If only a government lawyer preparing the witness had thought to ask him that maybe they wouldn’t have called Pettitte to the stand in the first place.

Heyman goes on to say that this is the last straw for Pettitte’s Hall of Fame case in his eyes. That he may have voted for Pettitte despite his win total and his HGH history because the postseason performances were so money that they outweighed it.  But now?

Now, though, his own sympathetic HGH story comes into serious question. If he’s willing to suddenly misremember under oath for a good buddy, it’s easy to think now Pettitte only admitted to what he had to admit to. Maybe Pettitte isn’t quite the truthteller we gave him credit for, and maybe there is some other explanation for how his fastball velocity increased to 93/94 mph somewhere in the middle of his career. I’d say the chances are 50-50 (at best) that Pettitte misremembered his own supposedly very limited usage.

Setting the “Pettitte used more steroids than he said he did” accusation aside, this is Jon Heyman, publicly changing his Hall of Fame vote for Andy Pettitte based on something (i.e. a change in sworn testimony) that never happened.

I guess this shouldn’t surprise us coming from a guy who still thinks, evidence be damned, that Jack Morris pitched to the score and that Bert Blyleven wasn’t a very good pitcher.

But it’s certainly a new, unprofessional low. I mean, at least he never accused Blyleven of committing a crime.

  1. jimbo1949 - May 7, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Do you just accuse Heyman of being a professional reporter? Where’s YOUR evidence?

    • jwbiii - May 7, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      The quotes he pulled from Heyman’s article seem rather conclusive.

    • georgia - May 7, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      It’s Heyman. What more do you need?

    • bigleagues - May 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      Hey man, nice shot!

  2. Mike Luna - May 7, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    What do you really know about legal procedure, Craig? It’s not as if you used to be a lawy–

    …oh, wait. Maybe Heyman should go back to sniffing out mystery teams.

  3. sbs0311 - May 7, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Great article and pathetic job by Heyman. He should be embarrassed.

    • vansloot - May 7, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      Part of being a sports writer is never having to say you’re sorry. It’s why most sports writers are douchebags.

      • Matt S - May 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

        Heyman is far worse than most sportswriters. His style is rumor-mongering and holier-than-thou denunciations of players and managers he dislikes for one reason or another.I challenge anyone to find a well-written, thoughtful, and balanced piece written by Heyman anywhere on the Internet.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - May 7, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    From what little I have read about this case, the money line that the people who are saying Petitte flip-fliopped goes like this…

    Schiliro: Let me ask you a question that I thought you were very careful about, and I just want to make sure there is no confusion on the record about it. And I think you were careful because I think you were trying to be polite. You discussed with us the conversation you had with Mr. Clemens where he told you for the first time he was taking HGH. And then you told us about the later conversation after you related what you remembered and he said, oh, no no, I said it was for my wife.

    Pettitte: Right.

    Schiliro: And you were talking this morning that you thought maybe you misunderstood.

    Pettitte: Uh huh.

    Schiliro: And I thought that was almost another word for being polite. Do you, today as you look back, think you misunderstood?

    Pettitte: I don’t think I misunderstood him. Just to answer that question for you, when it was brought up to me, I don’t think I misunderstood him.

    And later on, Schiliro asked about the conversation with Clemens about HGH and says, “And you have no doubt about that recollection?”

    Andy Pettitte says, “I mean, no. I mean, he told me that.”

    That sounds to me like he 100% remembers that Clemens told him that. I read Craigs other posting, and he doesn’t quote this part of the record. So did Petitte contradict himself throughout the 2008 record too?

    • bos30 - May 7, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      Unfortunately the people who are posting that exchange are only using the first line of Pettitte’s reponse, which is very dishonest on their part. Pettitte’s full response in 2008 was:

      “I don’t think I misunderstood him. Just to answer that question for you when it was brought up to me, I don’t think I misunderstood him. I went to Mac immediately after that. But then, 6 years later when he told me that I did misunderstand him, you know, since ’05 to this day, you know, I kind of felt that I might have misunderstood him. I’m sure you can understand, you know, where I’m coming from with that conversation.”

      • bos30 - May 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        I have nver been deposed by Congress so I just have to assume that the manner in which it was conducted was normal. Having said that, reading Pettitte’s deposition I couldn’t help feeling sorry for anyone (not just Pettitte) that has to go through it because it seems very unorganized. People not there for the whole thing and coming in and asking repetitive questions, jumping around time-wise, etc. When I read the deposition my take on it was that they focused on the 1999/2000 conversation and his recollection of that conversation pre-2005 and THEN the 2005 conversation in which Clemens told him he misunderstood which resulted in Pettitte questioning his recollection from 2005 onward. So if they were asking about the pre-2005 timeframe he was saying that basically he did not have any doubt but the doubt surfaced after his 2005 conversation with Clemens. IMO you can’t ignore what happened in 2005 and the effect it had on him and his level of certainty over his recollection.

      • Chris Fiorentino - May 7, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Works for me. Thanks for the response. Makes sense to me. Obviously, this is a case where the journalists are piling on top of one another because they are all pulling out the same quote without taking everything else Petitte said and not using the right context. Once the journalism train gets rolling, it’s tough to stop because there are a ton of people just like me who do not really care about this and will only worry about what they read and hear, and it is hard to find this information being said many other places besides here. So there’s a whole segment of people who read their local paper and are misinformed.

        Either way, I don’t care much about this topic, but I’d like to at the very least be correct about what it is that I am not caring much about.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 7, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      Chris — he clearly was a conflicted witness in 2008. Heyman clearly says, however, that Pettitte “pulled a changeup” here, which he certainly didn’t.

      Pettitte’s 2008 shows clear uncertainty (one answer yes, one answer no). Saying in 2012 that he’s now “50/50″ is clearly consistent with that idea.

      He’s a bad witness. He’s an inconsistent witness at times. But he didn’t change his story for the trial or pull a fast one on anybody.

      • woocane - May 7, 2012 at 12:54 PM

        Craig — there’s something else people are missing. In his deposition, Pettitte definitively testified that his conversation with Clemens re HGH occurred in 1999. But McNamee said he never discussed HGH with Clemens until summer of 2000. The Committee counsel questioning Pettitte even said to Pettitte that his testimony was inconsistent with the Mitchell Report, but Pettitte did not waver from the 1999 date. He only changed it to “1999 or 2000″ when he gave an affidavit to avoid having to testify in public. So the testimony was always questionable.

      • Chris Fiorentino - May 7, 2012 at 1:07 PM

        Thanks for the clarification Craig. Between this case and the Bonds case, it sounds to me like the prosecutor’s office needs to clean house. Poor judgment and worse, poor lawyer skills, all the way around. These guys are dumber than Cole Hamels.

      • umrguy42 - May 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        Chris, at least when Hamels is gunning for a target, he’s getting them :p

  5. largebill - May 7, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Craig,

    Keep this up and you’re gonna find yourself being banned. Oh wait . . .

  6. brohancruyff - May 7, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    I can’t wait for Pettitte to sue Heyman for libel now, that would pretty much make my life.

    • Jack Marshall - May 7, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      An obvious opinion isn’t libel. Even a stupid, careless, uninformed opinion. Heyman has a right to call someone a liar.

      • Craig Calcaterra - May 7, 2012 at 2:11 PM

        I don’t think this forms the basis of a lawsuit because of the malice/public figure angles. But there is a difference between (1) offering one’s opinion that a person is, generally speaking, a liar and (2) pointing to specific sworn testimony and saying “he lied when he said that.”

        One is disprovable, the other is an opinion of one’s character.

    • freddysez - May 7, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      Imputation of criminality is one standard for libel. By accusing Pettitte of the crime of perjury, Heyman exposed himself to libel action unless he can show his statements were true.

  7. sbs0311 - May 7, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    All of this simply shows that the defense was able to twist Pettitte around and get an answer to question that suited its case. This is not Pettitte lying or changing testimony. What we do have is a severe lack of understanding of the legal process by Heyman.

    What happened, the contradictions, make Pettitte a poor witness. It doesn’t make him a liar. Heyman doesn’t see the distinction, mostly because he’s not a lawyer and doesn’t get it.

    • Kevin S. - May 7, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      “What we do have is a severe lack of understanding by Heyman.”

      “Heyman doesn’t see the distinction, mostly because he’s a douchenozzle and doesn’t get it.”

      Fixed those for you.

  8. drewsylvania - May 7, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    So all of a sudden we’re going to take character issues into consideration for Hall voting? Actually, I’d be okay with this if Heyman also thinks Ty Cobb should be removed.

  9. woocane - May 7, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Heyman has not been an objective journalist on this one. He has become a friend of McNamee and hangs out with him. He wants McNamee vindicated and Clemens convicted. He embraces anything that supports that cause and condemns anything that does not. Not only do you have this ridiculous article on Pettitte, but he once said that Jose Canseco was the one who told the truth on steroids, except when it came to Roger Clemens! Then, Heyman said, Canseco was committing perjury when he said Clemens did not attend his party. Heyman has no credibility.

    • drewsylvania - May 7, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      Heyman is friends with McNamee??

      • woocane - May 7, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Yep — not from before this controversy, but after it started, he became pals with him. Hung out with him at his house, wrote articles and gave commentary about how great he is.

      • Detroit Michael - May 7, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        Any link to support that, woocane?

      • jwbiii - May 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        woocane seems to be correct

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/jon_heyman/01/07/mcnamee.clemens/

      • woocane - May 7, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        Detroit Michael — I did not save Heyman’s articles in which he detailed his man crush on McNamee, nor his TV appearances. But his support for McNamee was not hidden.

      • woocane - May 7, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Thanks jwbiii. Also, when you saw Heyman on TV during this time period, his bias was even more evident.

  10. bos30 - May 7, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Heyman is also wrong when he says that “…it’s easy to think now Pettitte only admitted to what he had to admit to.” If he bothered to read Pettitte’s 2008 deposition he would know that Pettitte volunteered the information about the 2 shots of HGH he took in 2004. The Mitchell Report only covered the 4 shots of HGH that MacNamee gave him in 2002. Given that only he and his father knew about the HGH shots in 2004 I’m pretty confident that no one would have found out about them so Pettitte admitted to something that he didn’t have to admit to.

    As to the 50/50 comment, I think it is reasonable to expect that trial lawyers are going to be better at questioning witnesses then congressional investigators not only because of more experience but simply because they have all the facts laid out in front of them whereas the congressional investigators were trying to find out stuff and had very little time to reflect on things. Clemens attorneys have had 4 years to reflect on all evidence in this case.

    I just want to thank you Craig for trying to get the truth out there. It is so disappointing that other journalists either are too lazy to check their facts or don’t care what the truth is.

  11. uyf1950 - May 7, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Craig, a question for the lawyer in you. Is what Heyman said libelous? and can he be sued? Just curious.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 7, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      Kinda doubt it. Because Pettitte is a public figure It would have to be shown that he knew the truth, said this anyway and did so with a malicious intent. I’m not a Heyman fan, but I don’t see that here. He’s just being lazy and careless at best, pushing an agenda he likes at worst.

      • uyf1950 - May 7, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Thank you.

      • mpic92 - May 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        Whoa nothing like seeing some recent ConLaw material on HBT (NY Times Co v. Sullivan, Hustler Magazine, etc).

      • danrizzle - May 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        Craig, I think there’s a point at which lazy and careless can be “reckless disregard for the truth” sufficient for even a public figure to recover against the media. Not sure Heyman’s conduct here would reach that standard, but I don’t think actual knowledge of the truth is an element of proof.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        Well done Craig. And I wonder why Heyman blocks you. LOL!
        Heyman is such a tool. Wow.

  12. stevem7 - May 7, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    John Heyman is that last person who should be accussing anyone of bending the truth. For it was John Heyman himself, who 100% knew about steroid use in baseball and failed to report it. John Heyman who took the free tickets, the free drinks, the free hot dogs, and covered up Steroid Usage in baseball because he would have lost his perks.

  13. largebill - May 7, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    All of this demonstrate why it is so difficult to get a conviction in perjury cases. Memories are not perfect and testimony is often imprecise. By imprecise, I mean someone lying under oath (unless incredibly arrogant and stupid) will be vague or will qualify their statements with protective caveats such as: “I think” or “I’m not really sure, but thought he said . . . ” It is rare to have a straight declarative case or perjury where it can be shown there is no doubt the individual under oath was unaware they were lying.

    “I did not have sex with that woman.” Whoa, you’re telling me that _____ counts as sex? I woulda never thought that was sex. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

  14. Robert H. - May 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Does anyone have a link to a transcript of Pettitte’s recent testimony? Craig’s previous post linked to the 2008 transcript, but not the recent ones.

    • ezthinking - May 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      FYI The trial transcript won’t likely be prepared until after the trial.

      • Robert H. - May 7, 2012 at 2:16 PM

        Ah, thanks. I presume, then, that the 50/50 quote and others were simply transcribed by reporters who were in attendance?

  15. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 7, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    What would happen if Pettitte signed with Scott Boras? Heyman might explode

  16. mungman69 - May 7, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    WHAT: A sportswriter not reporting the facts. He must be married to Matt Moore

  17. Travis Reitsma - May 7, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    #Lawyered

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