It’s not so much that the Mets are going to sign Roger Clemens that worries me. It’s how much I like the move that frightens me down to what I thought was my very soul. I dunno. Maybe as I age, I don’t have one anymore.
All I know for sure is I saw Victor Zambrano leave his final exhibition appearance with a strained left hamstring. No matter what Willie says, it’s a hamstring, a serious thing for a pitcher (even Zambrano). Suddenly we’re looking a Trachselian hole in the rotation again. Who ya gonna call?
Kaz Ishii? Let’s get serious.
Aaron Heilman? Sorry, we need him in the pen, one springing Jorge Julio-size leaks ahead of Billy Wags (good night Mrs. Benson, wherever you are).
If not Heilman, then it’s suddenly a choice of coping with Lima or Iriki or rushing Pelfrey. Instead, thanks to the miracle of free agency and the shortsightedness of Drayton McLane, the Mets have an option. And that option happens to be a legend.
Man, Roger Clemens a Met. Can you believe it? Isn’t this the opposite of You Gotta Believe? I mean, c’mon, Roger Clemens donning the same uniform as Tug. Then again, it’s the same uniform as Richie, Bobby, Robbie and Vinny, so maybe it’s not as sacred a garment as we like to think. Or am I making an argument against myself?
Let’s remove personalities for the moment and think about what Clemens becoming a Met means.
It means winning.
I know, we used to consider him the Antichrist and all, but didja see him pitch last year? He started with Doc and long after Gooden took a powder, Roger was having a Dwightlike season 20 years after Dwight’s last one. He’s been a little sore (hell, so have we where he’s concerned), but he showed he could still pitch in the WBC. If he can beat South Africa once, he can handle Florida five or six times.
It’s an old rotation with him in it, I grant you, but did you ever think you’d see three future Hall of Famers in our midst like this? Pedro, Glavine and Clemens? Whatever order you put it in, that’s a lot of wins and a lot of savvy. What’s age anymore? I say that not as a 43-year-old but as a fan who’s noticed (from afar) the great condition these guys keep themselves in. Forty’s the new thirty, though when I think of 40, I think of Pat Zachry and George Stone.
Prediction: Clemens will pitch better than Pat Zachry and George Stone. And Xavier Nady better start shopping for a new number.
Need I remind you that the Mets drafted Roger Clemens out of high school in 1981? Took him long enough to get here.
I don’t think anybody here is going to dispute the contribution Roger Clemens can make to the 2006 Mets, but I seem to be avoiding the elephant in the room.
Don’t we hate him? I mean don’t we despise him with every fiber of our souls (for those of who still have such quaint things)? Aren’t we still pissed off about the ball and the bat and the explanation?
All right, here goes…
That was 2000. This is 2006. Time heals wounds. It has to. Especially when there’s a sub-2.00 ERA on the table before Opening Day and nobody’s signed it (the post-pennant Houston hangover is officially underway). We didn’t like Pedro for hitting Mike either. Hell, there was a time I couldn’t stand to look at Tom Glavine and I’m fine with him now. Glavine beat the Mets a whole lot more than Clemens ever did.
Sure, there is a part of me that will never forgive Roger Clemens for a) beaning Mike Piazza; b) throwing a bat fragment at him; c) being what I suspect was less than frank in his recounting of the incident. But guess what?
Mike’s not a Met anymore. I liked him. I liked him a lot. But Mike Piazza’s a Padre. He’s not worried about who pitches for the Mets anymore, but I am. Not sure if he’ll be ready to go by the time we’re in San Diego in a few weeks, but we could be looking at Clemens-Piazza: The Rematch (Again) from a whole new perspective. It’ll be weird, but I’ve gotta root for the Met in that one.
Remove the Rocket’s objectionable years in pinstripes — though at least there’s no New York transition period to worry about (and he knows Willie and Willie knows him) — and what do you have? A great pitcher in the Tom Seaver mold. Come to think of it, Seaver and Clemens were teammates in 1986. It was almost a pre-emptive benediction, a laying on of hands that was derailed somewhere between Toronto and Houston. (Maybe the blister that removed Rocket from Game Six was a signal from Tom through Roger to Buddy Harrelson that we were going to win the World Series; just a conspiracy theory.) And where’s Roger from? Texas. Just like Nolan Ryan. Ryan won his only World Series with the Mets and then went out and pitched seven no-hitters. Roger’s got his rings. Maybe he’ll get his and our no-hitter here. We’ll look at him differently then than we have until now.
Oh, and did I mention the Subway Series? In addition to him potentially facing the ‘Stros, the Jays and the Sox in a Mets uniform, imagine Clemens taking aim once more at Jeter and Posada and whomever he threw at in 1998. No Shawn Estes nonsense here. We’ll remember why we might have admired Roger from afar to begin with and why they hated him which will make us like him that much more. If he’s not a Yankee, how bad can he be? Shoot, we know how good he can be. And best of all, you know he doesn’t walk many and he’ll never retire.
Could be worse. We could be getting Roger Cedeño.
Listen, my head is spinning right now. I’m as surprised as any of you at the notion of Roger Clemens as a Met. I couldn’t have imagined it yesterday and I can’t say I’ll feel the same way about it tomorrow. But on this particular day in very early April, I have to tell you I think it’s awesome.