Clemens the Answer or Question in New York?
by Robert Ferringo - 06/12/2007
So let me get this straight: Roger Clemens is supposed to be the savior of the New York Yankees season. Clemens, a known scumbag with psychopathic tendencies, is the knight in shining armor that's supposed to make us forget about how old this team is, how their bullpen is already burnt out and how their lineup is poorly constructed? Is that right? Clemens is the missing link? He's the one who will salvage this ruined empire?
I don't think so.
The 44-year-old Rocket picked up his 349th victory on Saturday in a 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He cashed in as a favorite of over -240 and the Yankees gave him enough support to cover the run line as well. But in the end, I saw everything I needed to see to decide that Clemens is going to be perfect fade material for the rest of the season.
Yes, it was The Rocket's first start in the majors this year and one of only a handful of trips to the mound that he's made since last fall if you include those circus-like outings in Triple-A. The idea is that he'll only get better as he gets his legs under him and that as he smoothes off the rough edges he should return to his usual, dominant form. His inhabitance at the top of the rotation will not only settle the staff but also provide an emotional lift to a sinking team.
My biggest knock against Clemens' return when I heard the Yankees had lured him back to the Bronx was that he's not going to be facing the Pirates every other week. In response, Joe Torre chose to mock me and schedule Rocket's Return for their series against the Bucs. The result was sloppier than Randy Jackson at a Rib Shack. Clemens labored through a 108-pitch, six-inning performance against what is essentially a Quadruple-A team, and the most overpowering pitcher of our generation was trying to sneak fastballs past Adam LaRoche. The Rock is not impressed.
Clemens' fastball topped out at 91 miles per hour on the day in New York. You read that right: 91 mph. Oh, Mr. Splitty was dipping and dodging in vintage form, but the heater - The Rocket's bread and butter for 24 years in the Big Leagues - was about as potent as a Paris Hilton's insanity plea in Los Angeles County Court. Clemens couldn't' protect the 3-1 lead he was spotted in the first inning and when he exited the game the Yankees were tied.
What I've taken from this is that Rocket will be a strong "Bet Against" candidate for the remainder of the season. Because of his reputation, and the fact that the Yankees may face the most inflated odds in all of sports, each of The Rocket's starts will be against nearly 2-to-1 odds. What that means is that if the average Clemens line is around -210 we only need to hit 33 percent of our equally rated plays against him to turn a profit. Given that there are exactly 101 games left on New York's schedule we can expect Clemens to make around 20 starts. So the question becomes, do you think that New York will win 14 of those outings?
I say no. And it doesn't completely have to do with my utter hatred for Clemens, his black soul and his old arm. Houston won 56 percent (47-37) of Clemens' starts in the three seasons he spent with the Astros, and a feeble 47 percent (24-27) since the start of 2005. I know the Yankees aren't the Astros, but even if the Bombers win 60 percent of his outings than a dime bettor would still rake in somewhere in the neighborhood of a cool $5,000 profit. Straight cash, homey.
The problem is, as I told you I said when I first heard about The Rocket's return, that he's not going to be matching up with the Pirates or any of the other disgusting teams in the National League Central like he did with Houston. He's going to face the Indians, Angels, Red Sox and Tigers instead. He's not going to get to face that pitcher's spot each time through the order, and instead will have to match wits with designated drillers like Travis Hafner and David Ortiz. You going to feel good about an over-the-hill power pitcher then?
The Yankees are a sinking ship with or without Clemens and his addition merely exemplifies what is wrong. Think of it: the same guy who jumped ship under false pretenses following the 2003 season is now forgiven and back to restore the team to its former glory? This is the same guy that lied to the organization and its fan base, took a retirement Hummer from both the organization and the fan base, and then backstabbed the organization and its fan base. Now he's their "savior". What ever happened to Yankee Pride?
Remember, Clemens split and took his bed buddy Andy Pettite with him to Houston. That left a gaping hole at the top of the Yankees rotation. A hole they tried to plug with spectacular failures like Kevin Brown, Jon Leiber, Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano. And do you think that the Red Sox ever would have come back from a 3-0 deficit in 2004 if they had to run through Clemens and Pettite twice apiece? Me neither.
In a very tangible way, Clemens screwing the Yankees over in 2003 is what has created the bloody mess they are today. Because they couldn't get anyone out they panicked and assembled a lineup full of mashers - the same type of lineup that Cleveland and Texas had throughout the 90s, the teams that the Yankees used to dismantle each fall.
Besides his tactile impact on the Yankees over the past few years, Clemens' presence on the roster is indicative of the real issue underlying their collapse. The New York teams of the late-90s and early-00s were built with high-character men and born winners. But the Yankees have since compromised their values and now employ low-life mercenaries like Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon. It's a karma thing. And don't think that the positive vibe of winning that surrounds the Red Sox and the dark cloud of losing that's floating over the Yankees right now doesn't have something to do with it.
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