Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Guess Who's Back?

The Empire Strikes Back!
Excuse me if I don't sound surprised that Roger Clemens announced that he's coming back with the Yankees this season. After all, they are the Yankees and he is Roger Clemens. It is the ultimate match made in heaven. He loves money, and they love spending it. I believe that was made painstakingly clear when the deal was announced to be $4.5 mil a month for the rest of the season (basically they pay the last 4 months of a 1 year/$28 mil contract). Now, with the Rocket back in the picture, how does it change the power structure of the AL East, the American League, or the Majors in general? Here's a look at some important questions moving forward, and of course the answers that only I know. See, you're so lucky you have access to my brilliance.

Q) Why did Roger decide to come back when he did?

A) Gee, that's a tough one, but since I asked it I guess I have to answer it. MONEY. Don't kid yourself if you have any thoughts otherwise. The Astro's were offering $22 mil, the Red Sox $18 mil, and the Yankees $25.5 mil. Hell, to prove even further it was money, Roger didn't even want to take the $25.5 mil! According to reports, Yankee GM Brian Cashman (his name just keeps getting more and more ironic) made an offer to the Hendricks Brothers, Rocket's agents, for a pro-rated deal of $25.5 million. Now, despite having no real leverage with any other team, Randy Hendricks decided to instead ask for $28 mil, where in return, Roger would start getting ready on May 5th, as opposed to two weeks from now. So, why did Roger come back so early? I believe a certain $2.5 million extra dollars had something to do with it. Roger might want to say he's doing it for Steinbrenner, or for Yankee fans, or whatever, but I don't buy it. He couldn't have pleased all those people for $2.5 mil less? I know it's a business, and you have to strike while the iron is hot, just don't try to justify asking for more loot with some other reason. You wanted more money, they gave it to you, and if you win the Series, well that'll be pretty sweet too.

Q) Does adding Roger Clemens immediately make the Yankees a prohibitive favorite?

A) Long answer YES with an "if", short answer NO, with a "but". What do I mean by that? Well, allow me to summarize. YES: Roger will add much needed depth to the starting pitching, and IF the Yanks can keep from going to their bullpen too often, they will be a much better team, and a prohibitive favorite. NO: Of course Roger makes the Yankees a better team, BUT their bullpen is still about as stable as John Daly's hands on day 4 of rehab. Are the Yankees a better team? Duhhhhhhhhhhh, of course they are. But does just adding Clemens immediately make them the favorite to win this thing? Not in my book. And we all know how ill my book is.

Q) Was there ever a chance Roger was going to pitch for the Red Sox in 2007?

A) I gotta say the chances of this one were slim and none...and of course slim just left town. I'm not buying into the fact that Roger still has anger towards the Sox for the way he was treated when he left, because that was a different management group. However, seeing as I don't think this is the last year for Roger, despite turning 45 this season, I wouldn't rule out Roger coming full circle next season and returning to Boston, if he does indeed capture the World Series with New York this year. That's the stipulation. If the Yanks win it all, Roger may yet return to the Fens, but if he doesn't, expect him to hang it up and enter the Hall of Fame as a New York Yankee.
Q) How far will the Yankees go this season?

A) Even if Clemens is the answer at the top of the rotation, the Yankees are still far from where both the fans and the front office wish they were. You have to expect they will make some deals before the deadline to bring in some bull pen help, but if they can't solve that problem, then they could miss the playoffs completely. I know their offense is dank, but there are only so many games you can win 9-7 and 11-9. Simply put, you can't ask your offense to win every game. Then there are injuries. Yankee fans think they've had it bad early this season, but can they actually expect things to get better with a rotation that features 45, 35 and 38 year old guys at the top of it? I know Mussina has already spent time on the DL, and Clemens should be well rested after hitting the buffet and golf circuit all winter, but old guys get hurt, that's just the name of the game. The Yanks are still a force, I just don't see them finishing any better than the Wild Card this season. It has nothing to do with them being 6 back in early May, it's just the future doesn't look nearly as rosie as many would now have you believe. That being said, I picked the Yanks to finish 3rd in the AL East this season, and seeing as they are pretty much in 3rd right now, I'm sticking with my guns. They'll score a lot, they'll cheer a lot for Roger, but unless they can find a bucket of water to throw on that inferno of a bull pen, it's going to be a long summer, and even longer winter in the Bronx.

Q) How many games will Roger win?

A) First off, this isn't the National League. I know Roger was successful last season with Houston, but let's translate those numbers to the American league. Last year, Clemens went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts for the Astros. Those numbers were against a National League that, as a whole, batted .275 and slugged .446. In contrast, American League hitters hit .260 last season, and slugged at .409. Hmmmm, so maybe those numbers don't support my argument. Eh, screw it. Everyone knows the American League is where all the primo hitters are at, it just so happens that's where most of the primo pitching is too, hence the discrepancy. One main similarity however, is the bull pen of the Yanks as compared to the 'Stros pen of a year ago. He might pitch well enough to win say 75% of his 20 or so starts this year, but you have to think the pen will blow a few since he will only be going 6-7 innings per start. Here's my prediction. In 2007, with the New York Yankees, Roger Clemens will go 9-4 with a 3.31 ERA. Not too shabby for an old dude, but by no means a Messiah.

Q) Does Roger have bigger thighs than Rosie O'Donnell?

A) Yes, yes he does. And perhaps even a bigger ego.

So, there you have it. Roger Clemens is officially back in the battle to save Middle Earth / the Galaxy / the New York Yankees. It's not certain whether the move will spell success, but what is certain, is the move is sure to take some of the lighter fluid from the Yankee pen, and deposit it where it should be, in the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

Red Sox Update

Overall: 20-10

Status: Maybe I don't know nearly as much about the Hispanic culture as I once thought. See, used to be, that no matter what nationality you were, it was considered sketchy as hell to stroke another man's head while embracing him in a hug. On the plus side, you know the Sox are runnin' good when this is the top piece of news in the Nation. On second thought, combine this footage with Don Orsillo's uncontrollable laughter (a classic staple of any NESN game this season thanks to the Rem Dawg), and I think this clip would make the front page if the Sox were 10 games back and Pedro, Schill and Millahhhh were in pin stripes.

Diamonds Are Forever

*As if it weren't enough that the Rocket was landing in the Bronx, the way the Yankees presented Roger to the masses was more a Broadway show than it was baseball game. I mean, I understand the pageantry of the whole thing, and I can even see how having Roger appear and speak from the owners box was meant to lift spirits, but there was one aspect of the entire thing that has me flummoxed. Yankee radio broadcaster, and Newton, MA native, Suzyn Waldman, went absolutely ape-shit when she saw Clemens speaking at the game. Seriously. I can understand being happy and excited over his arrival, but her reaction was redic. I happened to catch clips of the broadcast, and at first I thought I was hearing a recording of Kirsty Ally getting a hot colonic with a Super Soaker. Waldman was so beside herself, that at one point, the only audible sounds coming from her mic were a combination of giggles, panting and possibly some sort of mock orgasm (although it is radio, and you never know where her partner John Sterling's hands were at the time). Now, the last thing I want to do is take a run at someone who survived breast cancer, but even that doesn't hold you from my wrath if you switched allegiance from the Sox to the Yanks. "I climbed on the bandwagon, and I'm not leaving anytime soon." Geesh. I know they sign your paychecks, but come on now. Besides, whether you're a fan or not, you're supposed to have some sort of journalistic integrity aren't you? I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Charlie Steiner in the booth for Yankee games! At least he wasn't shuddering and screaming every time Roger was in his BOX! Ha!

*I gotta give it to my man Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays. Before you wonder why he's my man, it's because he's ill, and he was the man for my fantasy team last season. What he did this week, however, makes all of that look about as important as which color jumpsuit Paris Hilton is going to wear in prison. During a weekend series with the Rangers, Wells was constantly heckled by fans in the center field bleachers. The fans were telling Wells, that when the Twins were in town, Torii Hunter came and gave them a few balls every inning and that Vernon should do the same. So, after innings of this, not only did Wells bring a ball, but he brought an autographed one at that. Best part is, here's how he signed it.

I hope this will shut you up. Now, let me know what gas station you work at so I can come yell at you while you work. Your favorite center fielder, Vernon Wells

Classic. I'm not sure how he fit all that on a ball exactly, but you gotta love both his sportsmanship, and his sense of humor.

News and Notes
*Ohhhhh, now I remember why boxing is about as popular in the US as free thought is in China. I know I said I was going to watch the Mayweather/De La Hoya fight this weekend ,but when it came down to it, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It wasn't the $55 pay-per-view that deterred me though, it was simply lack of motivation. Everything I had read, told me the fight was going to be actionless and without a knock out, and all those people were 100% right. Yesterday, I watched a tape of the fight, and felt as if someone owed me $55. What the hell was that? Oscar De La Hoya thought he won? Floyd Mayweather slap and movin' like Carmelo Anthony? One judge actually scoring the fight for Oscar? What the hell? No big hits, no devastating combos and only a slight judging conspiracy? You call that a boxing match? Jesus. Wake me up when two guys that actually weigh more than I do decide to slug it out for a meaningful title belt, then maybe I'll be interested again. It's too bad too, because this fight really had the chance to revitalize boxing. Instead, all it did was deprive a few kids of meals this week thanks to their degenerate father's, and solidify the common opinion that boxing is as dead as the 4 brain cells left in Riddick Bowe's peanut sized brain. Riddick who? Exactly. Good bye boxing. Make sure to give my regards to cricket and soccer, because they only place people might want to still watch you is across the pond. What a freaking disappointment.

*Seeing as we are reflecting on recent sporting events that haven't been popular since the 50's, I'll take a run at breaking down this weekend's Kentucky Derby. Now, there's an event I can get behind. All horse racing asks of me, is 3 days a year in which I have to watch one race. Even better, their races have the best betting structure! Sure, I may not have won a single dime this year, but where else can you bet a total of $24 and realistically think you have a shot at winning $15 K? Coming down the home stretch, I could even feel the $105 in my pocket from the exacta bet Frosco and I made! Damn you Hard Spun! In all seriousness though, how great is the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown? This year's champ, of course, was Street Sense, who after making the first turn in 19th out of 20, stormed all the way back to take the crown. It's an exciting race to watch, it's fun to bet on and it's pretty tough for it to disappoint. Now, it's onto the Preakness, which is great in itself. Every year, you're guaranteed to have a horse that still has a shot at the Triple Crown, and you're usually faced with a different crew of contenders than in the Derby. My only wish, is that 25 to 1 Derby longshot Dominican is still in the field. You owe me one Dominican! You owe me one! Make sure to check back here before the Preakness so I can give you all the bets that you should totally steer clear of.
Fantasy Update
Last Week: WON, 15-6-3 vs Nappy Headed Hoes!
Overall: 3rd place, 5 games back

*Each week it becomes more and more evident that there are more tards in this league than at your standard Life Goes On autograph signing. However, I have taken it upon myself to provide motivation in the face of idiocy. NO, it's not money, and NO, it's not pride. I am desperately going to try for a top 3 finish in this league for one reason and one reason only....So I can have a tiny little trophy in the display case in my Yahoo! Fantasy Sports profile. The sad truth is, that since starting my profile in 2004, I have only one first place finish (my first baseball league), and one 3rd place finish (the whackest fantasy football league ever that hanged scoring 3 weeks into it). It's truly pathetic. And, if I'm going to keep doing these things, I might as well win, right? It's one thing when you lose to a league of guys trying to beat you. But, when your competition is a bunch of FRAUDS that haven't given the league much of a second though, then it will be quite loser of me if I don't at least crack the top 3. Give me a tiny little trophy, or give me death!


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