First Posted: 1/15/2009
When Roger Clemens announced he was signing with the New York Yankees over the weekend, it wasn't a shocker.
The Yankees, after all, sorely needed help in their pitching rotation.
When it was announced that the Rocket reached a prorated deal worth about $28 million just to pitch the rest of this season, that wasn't a surprise either.
The Yankees, after all, do have more money to throw around than a casino teller.
What was surprising was the reaction to Clemens' signing.
Among the many perks that owner George Steinbrenner and the Yankees reportedly gave to the new highest-paid pitcher of all-time are private travel accommodations, workouts apart from the team and three days off between starts so he can go home to Texas.
Just two years ago, when the Houston Astros signed Clemens with similar enticements, Yankees manager Joe Torre balked at the idea of offering such incentives to a player midway through the season.
That's all changed now.
In a country where athletes are constantly blasted for acting like prima donnas, somehow the Rocket, who may just be the ultimate prima donna, is getting a free pass.
Randy Moss, while with the Vikings, was branded a head case and a locker-room cancer after walking off the field with seconds left in a loss to the Redskins. Though he can now at least joke about it, Allen Iverson still hasn't lived down his infamous tirade where he called into question the importance of practice.
Can you imagine if these guys, or any other athlete, even asked for the kind of incentives that Clemens is reportedly receiving? They'd probably get laughed out of their respective leagues.
Clemens, who appears immune to the effects of aging, has also somehow managed to dodge the huge steroids cloud that has hovered over the sport for the last several years. Instead of questioning how a 44-year-old pitcher still dominates, something that happens to aging power hitters still amassing impressive numbers, Clemens is lauded for his work ethic and motivation.
Whoever Clemens has working on his image should be compensated at least as well as he is.
According to Clemens, though, this deal isn't about the money. In a statement that's laughable at best, he says he isn't going to New York for a “few extra dollars.” The implication, I suppose, is that he feels the Yankees offer him the best chance for another World Series title.
Call me a skeptic, but I just don't see that happening. The Yankees, throughout their recent history, have shown that World Series rings can't be bought.
Steinbrenner and the Yankees broke the bank in 2003 for Alex Rodriguez. They went all-in again in 2005 for Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano.
The only thing those three acquisitions have in common is that none netted a championship ring.
If Clemens thinks that his half-season is going to spearhead a turnaround, then he is in for a rude awakening. The Yankees starting rotation has spent more time in the training room than on the pitching mound.
It's hard to blame Clemens for accepting the deal, considering that a team actually gave in to his demands and paid him a record-sized contract.
It'll be interesting to see how he and the team spin it, though, when things don't work out.
– Willis Jacobson can be reached at 739-4322, ext. 119 or by email at [email protected]