January 6, 2008

HEY, BRIAN, FETCH THE GIMP:

Friends (Pat Jordan, 1/06/08, Baseball Analysts)

I had a chance to become friends with Mr. Clemens in 2001, when I interviewed him for a profile in the New York Times Sunday magazine. But, alas, our friendship did not take. Despite the fact that I, like Mr. Wallace, felt I too had been objective in my profile, Mr. Clemens did not concur. In fact, he called me up after the story appeared and berated me over the telephone. When I asked him what he didn't like about the story, he said, "I didn't read it." I responded, "Then how do you know you don't like it?" He said he was told by his "friend," and the co-author of one of Mr. Clemens' books, Peter Gammons, the ESPN-TV analyst, that he should hate it. In fact, Mr. Clemens hated my profile so fervently that he had me banned from the Yankees' clubhouse during the years he remained with the team.

I would later learn that one of the many things Mr. Clemens hated about my profile of him was my description of his fawning relationship at the time with his friend Mr. McNamee, who lived in the pool house of Mr. Clemens' Houston estate. On the first day I interviewed Mr. Clemens in Houston I had dinner with him and Mr. McNamee at the most exclusive steak house in Houston. The bill was for over $400, which I paid. Mr. Clemens said, "I’ll get you tomorrow." The next day he bought me a taco at a Mexican Restaurant. But the point of my profile of Mr. Clemens was less about his parsimoniousness than it was his strange relationship with Mr. McNamee. During the dinner at the steakhouse Mr. Clemens asked Mr. McNamee for his permission to have a steak (McNamee nodded) and a baked potato (McNamee nodded again, but added a caveat, "Only dry."). The same scenario played itself out at the Mexican Restaurant. Clemens pointed to an item on the menu and Mr. McNamee either nodded, or shook his head, no.

During the three days I followed Mr. Clemens around Houston, he seemed like a child beholden to the whims of the sour, suspicious, and taciturn McNamee. It seemed as if Mr. Clemens would not do anything to his body, or ingest anything into it that Mr. McNamee hadn't approved. I found it strange that, at 38, Mr. Clemens still had to have someone dictate his diet and workout regimen down to the minutest detail at this late stage of his illustrious career. In fact, Mr. Clemens' devotion to Mr. McNamee's diet and workout routine seemed almost like a spiritual quest that must not be impeded. When Mr. Clemens and Mr. McNamee went on a long run one day and they came across another runner, lying on the ground, in the throes of a heart attack, they called for help. When Mr. Clemens related that story to me, he ended it by saying, "We were having a good run, too."

I also found it strange that, at 38, Clemens had the energy of a teenager. Clemens' workouts lasted 10 hours a day with only breaks for lunch and dinner. They began at 9 a.m. under McNamee's watchful eyes, with light weight-lifting for an hour, then an hour run, then a trip into Clemens' own personal gym, where he did a few hours of calisthenics, wind sprints, and throwing before going to lunch. After lunch, Clemens and McNamee went to an exclusive Houston men's gym (Clemens told me that President Bush worked out there), where Clemens pedaled a stationary bike for an hour and then performed a heavy weight-lifting routine for another hour. Then after dinner at home, Clemens worked out again until 9 or 10 in the evening.

Just watching Clemens work out over a day exhausted me. I wondered where he found the energy to sustain such a maniacal pace when I, at a similar age 20 years before, had been unable to work out for more than a few hours a day without being drained.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 6, 2008 8:12 PM
Comments

pat jordan's second book, about him returning to play a couple minor league games 30 years later, was as readable and well-written as his first. Best sports book, minus Gallico's early twentieth century, ever read.

Posted by: neil at January 6, 2008 9:49 PM

i have a different purview of the issue clemen----cy

Posted by: rawdawgbuffalo at January 6, 2008 11:03 PM
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