With the Red Sox & Mets’ attempts to land Johan Santana supposedly nearing a climax, and O’s owner Peter Angelos allegedly standing in the way of Seattle’s acquisition of Eric Bedard, Newsday’s Ken Davidoff turns his attentions to the lengthy report issued yesterday by agent Randy Hendricks in defense of client Roger Clemens. While The Rocket continues to flaunt his status as the Hardest Working 40-something Of All Time, Davidoff points out “it’s no great leap to say that illegal, performance-enhancing drugs aid and abet those very off-the-field workouts, rather than the two items being mutually exclusive.”

It’s a very interesting study, even more so if you dropped in from Mars and had no idea why such a report was being compiled. But it hardly lays a glove on Brian McNamee and his accusations, because the report could be 100 percent accurate (and it isn’t, as Rob Neyer explains here), and it wouldn’t challenge any of the Mitchell Report.

Undoubtedly, Clemens is an extremely smart pitcher who, as his velocity dropped, relied increasingly upon a split-fingered fastball and two-seam fastball, as Hendricks argues. His “legal” workouts, and the way prepared for every start, watching mounds of video, are legendary. But just like with Giambi and McGwire, why couldn’t he have done all of that, PLUS the steroids?

I covered the 2000 Yankees. For his first year and a half in pinstripes, Clemens was surprisingly mediocre. Then, when he returned from the disabled list, that July, he was a completely different pitcher: Better velocity, better bite to the splitter, more confident. We all thought, “What the heck happened to this guy?” I find it pretty believable that steroids helped create that guy. Hendricks points out that Clemens’ August ERA that year went back up to 3.23, but that’s still quite good, and a considerable improvement from the prior year and a half.

I admire Hendricks for putting this report together. I admire Clemens for throwing heat under the chin of the profoundly conflicted George Mitchell. Mitchell deserves far more scrutiny that he has received, as I might have mentioned in the past. But ultimately, this report does virtually nothing to refute the former Senator’s work.