With Gotham giddy about the return of Roger Clemens to the Bronx, we take a quick look at headlines, back pages, and articles from the New York press this morning.
Joel Sherman: “Clemens has always yearned to set financial records as yet another way to sanctify his historic greatness. So his salary, before it is pro-rated, of $28 million is no accidental number. It is $1 million more than Alex Rodriguez’s now old record of $27 million.”
Mike Vaccaro: “Now, with the Yankees pitching situation as tenuous as it’s ever been – and far more shaky than a team with a $180 million payroll should ever expect – he comes back for a second tour of duty, this time as a legitimate would-be savior, this time with the Yankees needing to feed off his energy, rather than the other way around.”
Kevin Kernan: “In many ways, Clemens is baseball’s John Wayne and yesterday he rode from out of the Texas sunset – he’s still not in the twilight of his career – and into Yankee Stadium. ‘I’m here to win a championship,’ he said.”
Players pumped with Rocket fuel: “Johnny Damon said word had spread through the clubhouse, but hearing Clemens’ trademark songs being played was the dead giveaway.
‘We’d been hearing news; and hearing Rocket Man by Elton John and the Def Leppard song, too, we were like ‘What’s going on’,” Damon asked. ‘Word was spreading. Roger has a lot of friends in here; we pretty much knew.’
Damon called the dramatic video unveiling ‘one of the highlights of my career,’ while Bobby Abreu said Clemens’ mere presence makes others play better.”
Mike Lupica: “So the Yankees agreed to pay Clemens $18 million over the rest of the season, and when you add in a 40% luxury tax, that means he really costs them $25 million. And if, for fun, you want to project his salary across 162 games, you can say a pitcher who turns 45 in August effectively became the most expensive ballplayer, for one season, the Yankees or anybody else has ever had.”
Bill Madden: “Cashman knew this was one free-agent pitcher he absolutely had to sign. Steinbrenner had told him back in the spring that the money would be there when and if the time came and Clemens was ready to make a decision. What Cashman didn’t know was that his two rivals for Clemens’ services, the Red Sox and the Astros, had incredibly (if unknowingly) taken themselves out of the running by delaying until July their timetable for wanting to bring him aboard.”
Bob Raissman: “On the TV side, Michael Kay, who would later tell Clemens he had ‘goose bumps’ watching him address the crowd, was going gaga over the entire scene.
‘This is Broadway,’ Kay said. ‘And the Yankees do things in a dramatic way.’
Dramatic? Dramatic would have been Clemens suddenly rising up from under the pitcher’s mound. Or being airlifted in on a helicopter adorned with the interlocking NY. Seriously though, the timing of Clemens’ appearance might have been surprising, but it was full of false drama.
For weeks now, in the newspapers, radio and TV and on the Internet, it was a foregone conclusion Clemens eventually would be back in a Yankees uniform. The surprise party yesterday was icing on a stale cake.
It does set the stage for debate. There is no shortage of commentators – print and electronic – who have praised Torre for treating all his players in the same manner – one set of rules. Some of them have gone as far as saying they would not let the Yankee manager off the hook if he caved for Clemens.”
Yanks go all in for Rocket: “The Yankees have been pressing Clemens and Hendricks since spring training, but Cashman felt a chill after he tried to call Hendricks from Texas last week and Hendricks sent him a text message that said, ‘Can’t talk. I’m at Fenway Park.’
But on Thursday the two men talked and the conversation was so positive that Cashman convened Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine, Steinbrenner’s sons Hal and Hank and chief operating officer Lonn Trost on a conference call Friday afternoon and the bosses authorized Cashman to say ‘yes’ to Hendricks’ offer of a prorated salary of $28 million. In spring training, the Yankees had budgeted $25.5 million for a run at Clemens.”
Ken Davidoff: “Last year, that probably meant leaving some money on the table, as the Red Sox and Yankees might have outbid the Astros. Clemens still liked the idea of pitching at home.
“This year, granted, no one was going past the Yankees’ $28 million. But if the Yankees had offered that money with the provision that he’d have to attend every game, Clemens would be signing elsewhere.”
Davidoff: “Randy Hendricks met with Red Sox management at Fenway Park early last week and asked them to submit an offer, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Sox, whose rotation features considerably more depth and quality than the Yankees’, offered $18 million.”
Murray Chass: “The Red Sox are not desperate for pitching; they have a pretty good starting rotation. They would have been happy to send Julián Tavárez back to the bullpen and give Clemens his spot in the rotation, but they are in first place and lead the Yankees by five and a half games. That position just might make them feel a little too good about themselves. Did someone say cocky?
“I’m not suggesting their mind-set was ‘Who needs Roger Clemens?’ but maybe they weren’t prepared to pay the price. They had, remember, paid $51 million for the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka, and maybe they just didn’t have a yen to pay for Clemens, too.”