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Volume 4, Number 4
April, 1999

Fun & Games
Saga of the Rocketman

By Dean Shutt

Hello all and welcome back to Fun & Games. It's Spring again, folks and that means it is time to start talking baseball. You all know I am a Red Sox fan, I have been a Red Sox fan for most of my life and I will continue to be one for the rest of it. It hasn't been easy mind you - when your beloved Sox finish 22 games over .500 and are still 22 back of the Yankees, that is hard to take. When you have one of the better rotations in the American League and still the only thing the preview mags can talk about is losing Mo Vaughn (for which Dan Duquette will receive my foot up his ass one day), that is also hard to take. When your big free agent signing of the winter is a spray hitter coming off of a career year that he probably will never duplicate, it's, you guessed it, hard to take. To top it all off, just as spring training gets under way and you can start to forget the winter's follies, the Yankees trade for Roger Clemens.

I will readily admit that I look upon the hated Yankees signing of Roger Clemens with a biased view. Now you may think I would hate the fact that arguably the most dominating pitcher in BoSox history is now wearing the pinstriped garb of those swine from New York, but you would be wrong. I am thrilled to tears that the Rocket is a Yankee, it makes my hatred that much simpler. It has been getting harder and harder to hate the Yankees of late. I have been able to do it (because I am a Red Sox fan and therefore genetically predisposed towards hatred of the Yankees) but it hasn't been as much fun as in the past. I mean they've been this hard working, clean cut, modest bunch of lunchbucket types for the past few years. Hell, even Steinbrenner has kept his mouth shut lately. What ever happened to Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin and Goose Gossage, people that you could really get a hate-on for without much effort? If they weren't winning so many damn games and keeping my beloved Red Stockings from their rightful place in the standings, I'd have trouble hating them at all.

Luckily that's all over now. I can go into the '99 season full vitriol and hatred for the detestable, championship-buying, oh-so-rich pinstripers. Best of all, I can really start to hate Roger Clemens now. I was never a huge fan of the Rocket. He always seemed like a jerk to me. There was always just something about him that didn't sit right, like he was just waiting for an opportunity to screw the Red Sox Nation. Granted, you forgive him his jerkiness when he is winning Cy Young's for the Olde Towne Team, but deep down you still know he's an asshole.

So, it wasn't all that heartrending when our hero went free agent and signed with the Blue Jays because "he wanted to win". Never mind that the Sox made the playoffs last year while the Jays were having a fire sale, Roger is all about winning. Disregard the fact that if Roger was half the pitcher in the post-season that he is in the regular season the Sox would have won the World Series in '86 (winless in two starts against the Mets), Roger is all about winning. Besides, we got Pedro in his place, and Pedro will be mowing hitters down long after Roger has hung it up for good.

Then during this offseason, we were able to witness to the spectacle of the "Clemens Extortion Tour '99". Where Roger (who only wants to win, remember?) makes such outrageous demands of Houston that their pennant hopes would be dashed for the next ten years if they had signed him. Finally, just before Spring Training, Roger gets himself traded to the Yankees, obviously planning on riding the New York bandwagon to a Championship.

The only problem with this plan is that Roger is getting old. Add to that the fact that he never was worth a damn in the postseason (unlike David Wells, a true playoff stud) and it's just possible that the Yankees are suddenly a whole lot weaker going for third straight title. Let's face it, everything went right for the Yanks last year. They had a few players have career years. Their pitching staff was incredible, they even got a nice human interest story in Darryl Strawberry. Will all that happen again in '99? Doubtful at this point. Scott Brosius must return to earth soon, Bernie Williams has a nice fat contract, which usually means an off year, and the rotation is getting old - any of those pitchers could go down at any time. Indeed, this could be the year the wheels fall off the Yankee bandwagon. If they do, or even if the Yankees just start cold, look for Roger to be at his finger pointing best, which I am sure will do wonders for Yankee team chemistry.

And then there is Roger himself. He will be 37 years old this August, and it's safe to say that he is due for a production drop off. Pitchers can get old pretty quickly in the Major Leagues, especially when they are a dominating strike out artist like Roger. So maybe this will all be for the best. The Yanks get off to a slow start, they wind up a few games back of the Sox going into May, Roger throws one of his patented fits, maybe demands a trade to a "contender", and the Yankees deal him to the Sox for a couple of minor league infielders and a draft choice. We get the Rocket back, he and Pedro pitch us to the World Series and the "Curse of the Bambino" is lifted. God, I love the beginning of baseball season, anything is possible.

(BTW Roger, you know I was just kidding about that asshole remark right? Who loves ya baby?)

Dean's House of Pain

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