This whole, will he, won’t he, and for whom, Roger Clemens saga has all become exceedingly enervative. Of course the man is coming back, and of course he’s playing for the Astros. Everything else is nothing but a ruse.
Yesterday, Clemens, still deciding whether or not he’ll pitch in 2006, not to mention which team he’ll pitch FOR, graced the world with the news that his kids decided it would be OK for him to take the hill for one more season. How nice. I hope tomorrow we get to find out what words of approval Debbie, his former Framingham next door neighbors, and Charley Casserly have to offer.
As each day passes, we’re inundated with “Rocket updates” that pretty much say the same thing repeatedly. Clemens hasn’t decided yet whether he will pitch. Clemens hasn’t decided yet who he will pitch for. Clemens hasn’t decided how long he’ll hold out to drive up the price as high as possible. It’s like Chevy Chase’s classic, “Generalísimo Francisco Franco is still dead” line. Nothing to report, but we’ll keep shoving it down your throat.
Clemens has said he’s interested in playing for one of three, sorry, four teams, the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, and…Rangers, who are sort of like the water boy in this whole proceeding, they get to wear the jersey, but there’s no way in heck they’re actually going to play. Blue Jays fans are apparently feeling a little left out, being so close to Texas and all. Remember us, Roger?
The Astros have reportedly offered a prorated version of Clemens's 2005 $18 million deal and might be willing to go up to $4 million per month to a maximum $20 million. No public knowledge has been made of offers by the Yankees and Red Sox, but the Hendricks say they’re both “in the hunt.” According to the Houston Chronicle, Clemens has a $20 million offer for five months from another team, in addition to the Astros’ offer. But Houston is clearly in the lead here, even if the Yankees are the odds-on favorite according to WagerWeb.com:
Yankees -160 (Bet $160 to win $100)
Astros EVEN (Bet $100 to win $100)
Red Sox +140 (Bet $100 to win $140)
Rangers +600 (Bet $100 to win $600)
Field (any other team) +1000 (Bet $100 to win $1000)
If I’m Theo Epstein, I talk to my bosses, obviously enamored with the script of bringing Clemens’ career full circle in a Hollywood ending, and tell them I’m walking away. Enough of this entire charade. Call up the Hendricks, and tell them you hope they appreciate being able to use Boston in order to squeeze every last cent out of Houston, and call it a wrap. Maybe the Red Sox can still market the Clemens recruitment DVD in time for Christmas.
Look, as much as anybody, I’d love to see the Clemens finishing his career in Boston story matriculate, but its prospect is just not worth it anymore. First off, there is no guarantee that at the age of 42 Clemens is going to be the dominating starter he was last season in the National League. The last time he pitched in the AL, his ERA was 3.91, not terrible for certain, but that was also three years ago. And if he does indeed intend to sit out until June 15, Boston could be looking at $20 million for 3 1/2 months of service. Twenty million dollars. This is insane.
This whole process has become a joke, even more so than the similar Brett Favre decision we all had to endure recently. Luckily after countless sleepless nights, Favre announced he’s coming back. Yippee. I hope Clemens can make the same pronouncement before we all start getting addicted to evening NyQuil shots.
The Onion jokes that Clemens has received a $10 million offer from his family and is mulling that over. Astros owner Drayton McLane is so hell-bent on bringing Roger back that he probably took that story seriously and is preparing a counter-offer as we speak. The website RealGM offers up a spoof that says Clemens has announced he will only pitch in the World Series, a scenario that at this point doesn’t seem all that farfetched. Graham Flashner also writes that “Clemens has also received offers to pitch from teams in Japan, the Dominican Republic, and was solicited to become a bowler for a British cricket league.”
I’m getting a little tired of those people saying Boston would have to be an option because of his “legacy” here. If legacy meant so much to Clemens, he wouldn’t be holding out for whomever is going to dish out more than $20 million for his services. "But he could break the tie with Cy Young for most wins in a Red Sox uniform." That's fantastic, and I'm sure it would mean a lot to him. Unless of course, the Astros break the $20 million tie, in which case it means nothing.
Let's get one thing very clear: This is nothing more than a matter of driving up the price, sticking it to Houston for not offering him arbitration during the offseason, a matter for which he is now forcing them to again pay top dollar.
The thought that this week’s Red Sox-Yankees series was of utmost importance because it could sway Clemens’ decision is ridiculous. If Clemens is basing his decision on what team looks better suited for the long haul after a three-game series in early May, then the Mets, Tigers, and Rockies should be in play too. As if Clemens were at home charting every play. “Hmm. E-4, leads to four unearned runs. Not sure if I can deal with that. Check, Boston.”
He lives in Houston. His son, Koby, is a catcher in the organization’s minor leagues. He’s going to live there the rest of his life, they are reportedly offering him just as much as anyone else, and does Clemens really want to risk a return to facing the designated hitter in his last season?
At least, we assume it’s his last season. Maybe we get to do this all again next year.
Make the decision, Roger, either come back, or don’t. And have fun in Houston.
You can keep the DVD.