Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rocketing Into September

  Heading into September, the Yankees still have the best record in baseball by a game over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I’m not sure how they’ve done it. The pitching has been spotty. Pettite is hurt and Burnett and Chamberlain have been awful. Hughes and Sabathia have held their own but Hughes hasn’t gone past 6 innings in a couple of months. The offense has been riding Mark Teixeira all summer and are scoring bunches of runs despite not having A-Rod and Jeter having his worst year. Last year, the team got through the playoffs by having pitching that was just good enough and an offense that could bludgeon opponents. I don’t think the pitching is as good as last year and was upset to see the Rangers get Cliff Lee and the Phillies get Roy Oswalt, but the Yankees only get Kerry Wood to help the pitching. Wood has been productive so far so it is probably a good thing that I’m not the Yankee general manager instead of Cashman. The rookie Ivan Nova has been excellent and probably would have had to be traded for a big name pitcher, but pitching rookies in the postseason is a risky proposition. If Pettite and A-Rod can come back strong and Hughes picks it up a notch, there probably isn’t a team that can beat the Yankees in a short series, but those are some big unknowns.

  Ex-Yankee Roger Clemens was indicted for lying to Congress when he denied (under oath) taking steroids and human growth hormones. Good for him. I remember how disgusted I was when the Yankees picked him up in 1999 and not just because he was an ex Red Sox player.

  In 1986 he was the starting pitcher in the famous World Series Game where the Mets made an amazing comeback by getting 5 straight hits with 2 outs to score 3 runs in the 11th inning of Game 6 to tie the World Series. Clemens had a lead in that game and begged out with a blister on his finger. After the team lost, he claimed he wanted to stay in the game, but the manager didn’t agree.

  In 1990, Clemens was pitching in the American League Championship Series against the Oakland A’s and a real champion, Dave Stewart. Clemens’ team was behind in the series 3-0 and he managed to get thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes in the very first inning. When he got to the Yankees, Clemens was a good pitcher in games you didn't need to win. He'd pitch in the playoffs when the Yankees had a series lead and the pressure was off. He did pitch great in Game 7 if the 2001 World Series and even left with a lead, but that is the only time I can remember him pitching big in a big game.

  In 2003, Clemens started Game 7 of the American League Championship Series for the Yankees against the hated Red Sox. He left the game with the Yankees losing and the fans were cheering him in case it was his last game as a Yankee and Clemens waved his cap to the fans in a big farewell gesture even though his team was losing thanks to his efforts. The Yankees managed to win that game in a miracle comeback and in Game 4 of the World Series, Clemens left the game against the Marlins with his team losing and again the fans cheered him and again he stopped and waved his cap to the fans. The only difference was that this game was in Miami, not New York. Clemens didn’t care if his team was winning or losing as long as he got his cheers. Disgusting and he didn’t even retire, but just went to Houston so he could be close to his family. When he wore out his welcome in Houston, he came back to the Yankees in 2007. I guess being close to his family wasn’t that important after all.

  Everyone always marveled at how Clemens could keep throwing so hard into his 40’s. He claimed it was because of his workout regimen that was patterned after his idol, Nolan Ryan. But after his retirement his personal trainer, Brian McNamee, claimed he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH. His former teammate, Andy Pettite says that Clemens admitted to him that he used HGH. Clemens even admitted that his wife took HGH while denying his own use. Of course, she probably had a reason to try to hang on to her youth since Roger had been having a long term affair with country singer Mindy McCready that began when Clemens was 28 and a father of 2 and McCready was 15. Yes, she was 15!

  I’ve always felt that a man who cheats on his wife will cheat on anyone and Clemens is no different. I see no reason to think that he wouldn’t take steroids and HGH to keep his fastball, while letting everyone think he was a workout warrior. He had a lot of talent, but took the easy way out his whole career. I wish he had never been a Yankee. They won before he showed up, won after he left, and won while he was there but except for 1 game in his Yankee career, when he was needed him, he disappeared. I hope he appears in a jail cell soon.