Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Roger Clemens Crashes and Burns, Isaac Newton Loves Every Minute

May 7, 2007

"Well, they came and got me out of Texas, and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," he said. "I'll be talking to y'all soon."

..Yankee Stadium erupts/Red Sox Nation[1] cringes

May 5, 2008

"Even though these articles contain many false accusations and mistakes, I need to say that I have made mistakes in my personal life for which I am sorry. I have apologized to my family and apologize to my fans. Like everyone, I have flaws. I have sometimes made choices which have not been right."

…all of baseball cringes

What a difference a year makes! I still vividly remember sitting and watching the video on loop. For a moment, I thought Clemens could have maybe chosen some more exciting, dramatic, or inspirational words, but then I realized he would be back. The Rocket was coming back and was going to deliver the injury plagued Yankees back to their rightful place atop the AL East. He could have recited Emily Dickenson from the owner’s box for all I cared. Roger was back in pinstripes.

Who woulda thought that I would have regretted those feelings? Of course in my defense, the guy did have 348 career wins and 4604 strike outs when we resigned him. Even Jason Giambi was excited, "If he'd like, I'd carry his bags out to the car.” (or maybe he just empathized with an over-the-hill player with “an impressive work ethic”)

Now, I just wish Roger would go away. Regardless of whether the current allegations are true or not, I just can’t bear to hear anymore about Clemens troubled life. It’s not fair to his family, his friends, and the game of baseball. If only Clemens took a page out of Andy Pettite’s book: a quite apology and back to business. Instead, Clemens paraded through the halls of Congress proclaiming his innocence and decrying the witch hunt (credit Andy for not following his lead). What was Rusty Hardin thinking? (Was he watching reruns of Matlock instead of considering the danger in which he was placing his client?) Clemens could very well have perjured himself, while voluntarily testifying. What a mess!

Beyond the great tragedy this must all be for Clemens’ family and his fans. Let’s talk about the impact on baseball. Remember the 1998 Home Run Race? Remember how it re-sparked interest in baseball after the damage of the 1994 strike? Well it has officially gotten its “equal and opposite reaction.” Isaac Newtown is loving every minute! Consider this:

After a bitter strike, replacement players, and the cancellation of the 1994 season, baseball finally got its good will back. Television ratings and attendance were up, and the country was enthralled by the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. The rich history of baseball re-entered the hearts of baseball fans. Fans looked back to the great race of 1961 between Maris and Mantle and knew they were living history. And could it have been two better characters? First was Mark McGwire, the family man, who became very emotional when discussing the great history of the game and Roger Maris’ great legacy. Then there was the quirky and always cheerful Sammy Sosa, with his big “skip” down their first baseline and crazy hand motions.

Fast forward…

In 2006, Mark McGwire, a member of the All-Century team in 2001, got one quarter of the necessary votes for the Hall of Fame. When questioned in Congress, McGwire lawyered up and pled the fifth. Sports fans laughed at his “I’m not hear to talk about the past lined.”

From 2005, Sosa’s career spiraled from the Orioles’ #7 hitter, to minor league player, to washed-up slugger that no one would sign. His English speaking skills escaped him when questioned by Congress and also did not deny steroid use.

It’s also worth noting the Ken Griffey Jr. who had hit 56 home runs in both 1997 and 1998 is still a force to be reckoned with in the major leagues. In 2007, he played in 144 games and hit 30 home runs (at the age of 37). It’s never iffy, if it’s Griffey.

This brings us back to Roger. If fans’ ill-will toward the fallen sluggers, McGwire and Sosa, didn’t push them away from the game, Roger Clemens had to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Everything that was gained in 1998 has been lost (and then some. The number of baseball fans in America is at its lowest point in two decades (43%). Roger needs to put an end to circus for the sake of his dignity and for the sake of the game.

[1] The author acknowledges that the term “Red Sox Nation” is a fraudulent abstraction drummed up some producer on SportsCenter. He uses this term for lack of a better one.

No comments: