As the entire world now knows, Roger Clemens is returning to the New York Yankees on Monday, making his first start of the year against the Chicago White Sox. (The Yankees were actually smart not to start him at Fenway this weekend.) Let's just say I am happy he is with the Yankees, or better yet, not in a Boston Red Sox uniform.
I was one of those people who was not happy to hear that Red Sox management was trying to woo Clemens back to Boston. They pulled out all the stops, and even put together a video urging Clemens to complete his career by coming full circle, back to Boston where he first reached the majors in 1984.
Obviously, sentiment means nothing to Clemens. He's obviously accomplished everything he could possibly do in his career. He is assured a first-ballot election five years after he calls it quits. He has his World Series rings and his Cy Young Awards. He will be remembered as the pitcher of his generation.
But it was clear a return to Boston was never in the cards. The Sox weren't going to offer Clemens the same money the Yankees were prepared to offer him (and didn't want him until late June). And rest assured, the bottom line with Roger Clemens is money. Whoever ponies up the most cash wins his services. (If it were the LA Angels for instance, he'd be preparing to join the Angels rotation right now.)
Clemens knew the Yankees were desperate and in dire straits, so he waited around for their king-sized ransom offer. Earlier in May it happened, and the Yankees and Clemens rolled it out in a rather pathetic display in Yankee Stadium during the seventh inning of a game. After the game, he said some palaver about "winning a ring for those three or four guys who haven't won one yet" in an obvious reference to other Yankee mercenaries like Mussina, Giambi, and A-Rod.
Sure Roger, I believe that. Do you have some swamp land in Florida to sell us as well?
Roger Clemens is all about Roger Clemens. If all he cared about was winning another ring, than why didn't he sign a contract with New York for say, about a million dollars? Because that wouldn't be Clemens without making a killing from a desperate organization willing to cave into his demands. (And do you think those Yankee players, with their egos, will be on board with Clemens and all his perks if they keep on losing? I don't think Kyle Farnsworth is alone in his feelings about Clemens sweetheart deal, it's just that he was the only one with any guts to go on record about it.)
And did anyone else notice that his pro-rated contract of $28 million puts in just slightly ahead of Alex Rodriguez, whose making just over $27 million this season, as the highest paid player in the game? Wow, what a coincidence.
Right now, Clemens is a five-to-six inning pitcher, and he's coming from the mediocre NL Central, where he pitched last year, to the hard-hitting AL East. I'd be surprised if his final ERA is below 4.50 for the rest of 2007. They could have gotten the same production if they had held on to Jaret Wright, and would have saved a whole lot more money.
Clemens' past history with the Red Sox is well-known to all Red Sox fans, so I will not rehash it here. He is thoroughly despised by Red Sox Nation, and I don't envision a day where he will ever be welcomed back with open arms in Boston. (I can envision him getting booed even decades from now if he were to ever return to Fenway Park.) But I doubt he will ever come back to Fenway for any other reason than as an opposing player. He's never forgiven the Red Sox fans for the harsh treatment he got after he left Boston, and especially after he pulled the crap that got him traded to New York. The management that he had problems with in Boston is long gone, but it's Red Sox Nation that he truly despises.
Roger, the feeling is very mutual.
I can see Johnny Damon being welcomed back someday, when he gets rid of the pinstripes. He was part of the 2004 World Champions, and was always well-liked when he was in Boston. Clemens rubbed fans here the wrong way, and was exposed as the phony that he is.
Call him what you will. Carpetbagger. Money-grubbing mercenary. Phony. Whatever.
He made his deal to return to the Evil Empire and sold his soul (again) for Steinbrenner's millions.
Good. I got my wish. I never want to see him in a Boston Red Sox uniform. Ever again.