Once Monday’s news was announced about Roger Clemens, it became quite easy to realize that government and sports don’t coincide.
Clemens, who was acquitted of charges toward lying about steroids and human growth hormones to Congress in 2008, was officially sent out of a Washington courtroom as a “free man” on Monday.
And while many are continuing to scratch their heads over this particular case, it certainly emphasizes the fact that an athlete is more powerful than a group of non-baseball fans, ahem…the jury.
Of course, he will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game.
The Rocket spent 24-years in the big leagues, and walked away with a record of 354-184 on the bump. He appeared in 11 All-Star Games, earned seven Cy Young Awards, paced the American League with the most wins by a flame-thrower in ’86, ’87, ’97, and ’98, and was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1986.
Yet, excluding those various credentials, it’s unlikely that his name will ever be scratched from the so-called, “steroids era.”
Baseball has become a game of cheaters. Players seem more focused on their various accolades than winning a World Series, and the same could possibly be said for Clemens, right?
Clemens will certainly be remembered as a cheater, as well as someone who maneuvered his way forward with various performance enhancement drugs to extend his career, and one example could be seen when he joined the Toronto Blue Jays for a two-year stint in ’97-’98.
The right-hander hadn’t earned 20 wins or more since the 1980’s, and after a few up-and-down seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Clemens’ numbers skyrocketed in Canada, as he won 41 of 54 games. He also earned two back-to-back Cy Young Awards, too.
So, did the government strike out or did Clemens earn himself another win for the record books?
Well, according to the New York Times, this particular trial was a so-called, “waste of government time, and money.” Clemens became the second Major Leaguer to sneak through the cracks — the first was Barry Bonds, who was sentenced to one month of house arrest after a seven-year investigation in April of 2011. And while Bonds was convicted on one of four charges, (obstructing justice) he still managed to walk out of the courtroom.
Clemens avoided 10 years in federal prison, but will now be faced with the difficult task of convincing the baseball writers that he deserves a spot in the Cooperstown, (he’ll need 75 percent of the ballots to earn a spot).
All in all, I believe that he cheated. Clemens, Bonds and others turned America’s Pastime into a game that’s no longer linked to the days of Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and others.
Will baseball ever resort back to the “good ole days?”
I’m not sure, but once again, the government failed to send a message to all baseball fans and players that cheating is not allowed in a game and life.
It’s never easy to say, so long, farewell or simply… goodbye.
Friday is a day that’ll live in infamy, as Boston Red Sox fans watched Terry Francona walk away from his managerial position and into the sunset. Although, while no one may know the exact reason why Tito decided to pack up and leave his office, it’s certainly fair to say, he was hands down the right guy for the job.
Francona inherited a group of “idiots” that became legends after their most improbable comeback against the New York Yankees in ’04. He also ended Boston’s miserable ongoing curse against the St. Louis Cardinals in the October Classic, and won an additional title three years later against the Colorado Rockies.
Yet, besides leading the Red Sox to two World Series championships, he was also considered a “players manager.” Guys like Dustin Pedroiaand Kevin Millar gelled quite well under him, while players like Manny Ramirezor Pedro Martinezbutted heads, but still respected his decisions.
In fact, Pedroia told ESPNBoston.com, “He’s had my back, he gave me a chance when I was struggling as a rookie. I was hitting .150 and he stood by me and helped me become the player that I am today. I’ll forever remember that.”
He’ll certainly be missed and yes, it will be quite different seeing someone else sporting a Boston uniform, and calling the shots next season, but overall, he’ll always be remembered as the manager that sent Babe Ruth’s curse to the grave, and brought the spirit of baseball back to the Hub.
Derek Jeter’s place in pinstripes has been hotly contested in recent days. There is no doubt Jeter is one of the greatest Yankees of all-time, but does Jeter belong in the Yankee top-10 or top-20? The problem with the Yankees is that they are so stacked with legends of the game of baseball that it is mind-numbing to try to begin to organize them.
Well, because I like debate, I have done just that. As you all know, I’m a Red Sox fan, but I love baseball and baseball history. After Jeter’s monster 5-5 day where he swatted a home run for his 3000th career hit, I felt compelled to make the Yankee top-10. I’m sure some of you will disagree with the picks or the order, as there were a few times I sat back and uttered, “this is fricking impossible,” whilst compiling this list.
10. Earle Combs: Combs played during the time of Murderer’s Row when the team featured Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mark Koenig, and Robert Meusel. Combs wore the number 1, which at that time meant he batted leadoff, meaning he got to set the table for Ruth and Gehrig. He scored a lot of runs because of that, the seventh most in Yankee history with 1,186. Combs led the Majors in triples three times and finished his career tied with Joe DiMaggio with a .325 batting average.
9.Mariano Rivera: It’s a rough place for Mo to be considering when all is said and done he will be the single greatest closer to ever play the game and when that time comes he will probably move up a spot or two on this list. In 17 seasons with the Yankees thus far he has amassed 581 saves with the Yankees and has finished a record 858 games. There is nobody else in the history of the sport (arguably) that a manager would rather hand the ball to in the ninth inning. He has a career 2.22 ERA and has had an ERA under 2.00 an astounding 10 times in his career. If he keeps up his performance this year, it will be 11 times.
8. Don Mattingly: Donnie Baseball is a sad story. He retires in 1995 after 14 long seasons with New York. Then a kid named Derek Jeter hits the scene and the Yankees win a World Series for the first time since 1978. (I know, right? There was a long period of time where the Yankees actually sucked!) Unfortunately for Mattingly, he played during that long tenure of suckitude that I really hope would return, but it won’t. It seems criminal for Mattingly not to have a ring as a player. During his time in New York he won nine Gold Gloves, setting the standard for Yankee first baseman for decades to come. He won League MVP in 1985 and finished his career with a .307 average and a miniscule 444 strikeouts.
7. Whitey Ford: The Chairman of the Board was once the most feared Yankee pitcher the rotation had to offer. Ford holds the all-time Yankee record for wins with 236. With the coddling of pitchers these days and free agency, this record may never be broken, making it all the more impressive. Ford finished his 16-year tenure with the Yankees sporting six World Series rings, one Cy Young award (after going 25-4 in 1961) and a career 2.75 ERA.
6. Derek Jeter: I don’t think there’s a question that Jeter has to be on this list. With all the power and offensive force in the history of the Yankees, with all the ability to hit the ball, no Yankee has ever amassed 3,000 hits until Jeter. Jeter knows how to win, plain and simple. His intangibles are off the charts. In seven Word Series appearances he has five rings. He has a career .313/.383/.450 line. Amazingly, Jeter has never won a league MVP award and he has only led the league in hits once (with 219 in 1999). He is the model of consistency, playing through injuries his entire career and never making excuses.
5. Mickey Mantle: Mantle played the most games ever in a Yankee uniform with 2,401. That statistic is amazing considering the massive chunks of time he missed due to the plethora of injuries he suffered over the course of his career, beginning his rookie year in the 1951 Word Series when Joe DiMaggio called late for a fly ball, causing Mantle to put on the brakes and blow out his knee on a drain in the outfield. Carl Yastrzemski once said, “If that guy were healthy, he’d hit eighty home runs.” Mantle was the pure combination of power and speed in the Majors. He hit 536 career home runs (which was good for third all-time when he retired after 1968) and batted .298 for his career, a statistic he lamented. He was the best power switch-hitter the game had ever seen and Mantle won three MVP awards. He coined the tape-measure home run.
4. Joe DiMaggio: Joltin’ Joe loved the spotlight. He once allegedly punched Billy Crystal in the stomach for not introducing him as the greatest living ballplayer. His ego could outmatch any number of athletes today. However ego or none, DiMaggio owned New York. Like many other ballplayers of that time, DiMaggio dedicated three years in his prime to service during WWII. He still won three MVP awards and finished his career with a .325/.398/.597 line, 361 homers, and 1,537 RBI. He won nine World Series rings in ten tries.
3. Lou Gehrig: the Luckiest Man Alive was the epitome of class. Gehrig held the record of consecutive games played (until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it) and clobbered 493 homers with 1,995 RBI, which is still good for fifth all-time. He won two MVP awards but his career was cut short by what is now considered Lou Gehrig’s disease (or ALS), but his time in pinstripes saw the great number 4 bat .340/.447/.632 for his career and accumulate six championship rings.
2. Yogi Berra: Too many people forget about Yogi Berra as one of the best Yankees of all time, let alone one of the best catchers period and a man who is enshrined in the Hall of Fame. More known for his quirky catch phrases, all Berra did was win. A three-time MVP and a 15-time all-star (all consecutive appearances) Berra has a monumental amount of World Series rings with an astounding 10, the most of any baseball player all-time. The active players with the most? Jeter, Rivera, and Jorge Posada tied with only five. DiMaggio is second all-time with 9. The Yankees are all about winning, and their fans will tell you that until your ears bleed and then tell you some more. Berra won, and won relentlessly.
1. Babe Ruth: For the majority of his career, George Herman “Babe” Ruth was baseball. The Sultan of Swat amassed almost as
many nicknames as he did home runs. Amazingly, Ruth won only a single MVP award in his entire career, which was in 1923 when he hit 41 homers, had 131 RBI and batted .393. Meaning when he hit 60 homers in 1927 (then a single-season record by far) he didn’t win MVP. Questionable, but Ruth’s statistics speak for themselves. He played 15 years with the Yankees, clouting 659 homers and knocking in 1,971 runs. He walked 1,852 times in a Yankee uniform and led the league in that category 11 times. Ruth holds the all-time record for slugging percentage with a .690 mark. He also holds the all-time mark for OPS (1.164). To this day, Ruth still defines Yankee lore.