May 8, 2007

Mike Vaccaro: That Was Then ...

Mike Vaccaro, New York Post.

January 13, 2004:

We knew better, dammit. That's what's so galling.

We spotted Roger Clemens from eight miles away. We'd seen him pour kerosene all over his Boston exit, never once thanking fans who'd invested 13 years in him. We'd seen how he strong-armed his way out of Toronto.

We figured him for a phony, fingered him as a fraud. He wasn't going to be able to put his act over on us. Not on New York. We're too savvy, too smart. We saw him for what he was: a disingenuous double-talker who spoke poetically about wearing pinstripes but sure seemed a lot sweeter on George Steinbrenner's checkbook. You were slow to accept him, slower to embrace him.

"I want to be a Yankee for life," Clemens declared, in March of 1999. "I want to retire a Yankee," Clemens insisted, in April of 2000. "I want to go in the Hall of Fame as a Yankee," he swore in June of 2003.

And you know what? We fell for it. Fans. Sportswriters. Yankee brass. ...

Look, Clemens did nothing illegal by deciding to end his retirement after 78 days. He wants one more summer in the sun with his pal, Andy Pettitte? Hey, you can do worse than work every fifth day for $5 million. Godspeed, Rocket. Have a plate of brisket on us.

But we'd better not ever hear him pipe up about the pinstripes tattooed on his soul anymore, OK? We'd better not ever listen to his dream of making the Hall of Fame as a Yankee. That's over. That's done.

"Somebody told me there are some people who don't have a hat on [on their plaques]," Clemens told us last June, "but that would be disrespectful to Mr. Steinbrenner, who gave me the opportunity to continue my career, to achieve these goals and become a true Hall of Famer."

He can officially spare us this tripe from now on. ...

Clemens is one of the most shameless athletes of all time ... Let him go. Let him go home. Let him try to figure out the National League, and let the fans of Houston fall prey to his wicked charms. We're done. We've been there. ...

"I played 20 years, they aren't going tell me what hat I'm wearing on my plaque," Clemens had said in June. "There might be a vacant seat there if they do."

Just like the 56,000 vacant seats that would accompany any Roger Clemens Day at Yankee Stadium. He wants to come back? He can buy a ticket. Just like any other Texas tourist.
May 7, 2007

You don't always get the chance to redeem yourself this way, but that's the opportunity Roger Clemens has now. He can make things right in a place where he badly needs to make things right. He can rectify his place of prominence in the Yankees firmament. And maybe earn that Yankees cap he swears he wants to wear into Cooperstown. ...

This is a different team Clemens joins this time around. He is no carpet-bagger anymore, rolling his dice with a shoo-in favorite.
May 8, 2007


Well, we have about a month to re-calibrate ourselves, to get ready for All Things Rocket, to re-familiarize ourselves with those wonderfully kooky Elton John lyrics ("Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact it's cold as hell ...) that'll accompany his weekly marches to the mound. ...

We have a month to allow Yankees fans to painstakingly remember how to love this merciless mercenary again, at precisely the point when they’d written him off as another greedy gasbag.

To help hasten the process, let's offer up a quick primer, a little nine-inning quiz to see exactly where you are in terms of your Rocket-Readiness. Eyes on your own paper.
So, Mike, he's not a greedy gasbag anymore? You seemed pretty sure about it three years ago. What happened to make you forget the tripe and embrace the Rat?


redsock said...

Kevin Kernan is the Post writer whose put his lips all over George's ass.

Sean said...

Not surprising at all, and so i'm not really offended. We expected continuity and logic from sportswriters?

To all who are attending tonight's game: I hate you, but hope you have a great time.

6 more days 'til my next Sox game, and I appear to be getting Matsuzaka. Wow. World, you win again.

Zenslinger said...

Consider yourself lucky, Sean. My need for live baseball is driving me to see the Mets play the Giants tonight. Whenever I see the Giants play, it seems like I get to see an ex-Braves ace. Saw Maddux twice, including his 300th win, and tonight it's Glavine.

Sean said...

Zen... you're seeing baseball at Pac-SBC&T Park, even if it is in AAAA west. Imagine if you were stuck in Seattle or Miami, what the hell would you do then?

Zenslinger said...

It's a lovely park. And it's even warm here today so we might actually experience that rarest of San Francisco treats: a warm evening.

But our park is not a good park for baseball fans. It's a fashionable place to go and the level of conversation about and interest in the game is pretty low, although it was worse when the park opened. With all the dot-com money around, it was packed and very few people even knew how the game was played. Some say this tendency is endemic to West Coast baseball as a whole, but I can't say. Oakland's better for sure as far as the fans go.

I would be glad for the chance to watch Matsuzaka pitch even in a barnyard.

Sean said...

I sincerely hope i'll get back to the excitement I had when we signed Daisuke, but lord has it been awful watching him this last month.

I suppose if you go to the craphole formerly known as the Oakland Coliseum, you really want to see some baseball. Or, if the sportscenter recaps of the last few years are any indication, throwing crap at opposing players, taunting opposing bullpen players about their stillborne child, and inciting fights.

Zenslinger said...

Well -- I mean, the fans are at least interested in baseball a bit more in Oakland. Whether that's expressed appropriately is another issue. Although I went to Candlestick with my friend the Braves fan in 1993 and was not treated well at all. The only way you can get attacked at the present SF stadium is to get to your feet when Big Boy is batting.

L-girl said...

I loved PacBell/SBC/Whatever. I thought the fans were great, chanting "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" for no reason, reminiscent of a certain chant at Fenway (although of course not as intense).

But you have a much bigger sample size than I do. Maybe we were there on a good night.

And our one game at Candlestick, I was too damn cold to notice much of anything.

Some say this tendency is endemic to West Coast baseball as a whole, but I can't say.

That has been my impression. But I love Dodger Stadium, too. (And seriously disliked Anaheim and their so-called fans.)

To all who are attending tonight's game: I hate you, but hope you have a great time.

Bitter? Sean? Nah!