Breathing a sigh of relief over the recently unveiled Mitchell report. It was ultimately less of a stunner than first expected; almost every name on there is someone whose name had been whispered about in the past ten years. Prior to the official announcement a friend of mine leaked me a list of names he said he’d received from an inside source at a news affiliate that turned out to be about 75% bunk. Needless to say, that got my heart racing. Sorry I ever doubted you Captain.
Of course the big “revelation” which should have surprised no one who’s been paying attention, is that Roger Clemens was a focal point (9 pages worth) of the investigation particularly during his years in Toronto and New York. The man who has to be smiling the widest this morning is former Red Sox G.M. Dan Duquette who famously said Clemens was in the “twilight of his career” when the team parted ways with the pitcher in 1996. Duquette had a valid point: Clemens’ last season of the team he went 10-13 with an E.R.A. of 3.63. He was getting injured with greater frequency, averaging about 25 starts a season. Those Sox teams of the mid 90’s were pretty lousy (the team didn’t begin to turn things around till the Pedro/Nomar years) but Clemens had become a consistent disappointment, unable to win more than 11 games a year from 1993 through 1996.
So imagine the surprise in Boston when Clemens went to Toronto and proceeded to rack up back to back 20-win/Cy Young seasons. Duquette, an already unpopular GM, was vilified and the city watched in horror as Clemens eventually made his way to the hated Yankees where he won another Cy Young, an average of 15 wins a year and two World Series titles (a distinction which obviously alluded him in Boston). For years this improbable turn-around had been rolled into the curse that hung over Boston for 86 years.
But here we are in 2007. The Sox, still basking in the afterglow of their second title in three years. The Yankees, despite spending the GNP of Guam on over-priced, past their prime arms (including, tee hee, Clemens) are the ones chasing the Sox. And this morning the final piece of validation. The last puzzle piece is in clear sight as Red Sox Nation is purged of one of its last demons.
Clemens was past his prime. The Sox were working off the best information they had available to them. They just didn’t anticipate one little thing:
Clemens if a fucking cheater!
Oh the joy, the joy. For years Sox fans joked that Clemens’ bust in the Hall of Fame should be adorned with a ball cap with a dollar sign on it. Now, we can begin the jokes about asterisks and hypodermic needles instead. There had been a softening towards Clemens in recent years; a willingness to let bygones be bygones. When it was rumored that the pitcher might come back to Boston this past spring it was met with almost a uniformly favorable response. There was something poetic and apt about Clemens finishing his career in the same city he started it in. But Clemens went with the Yanks, made an embarrassment of himself, limping off the mound during the playoffs in (presumably) his final game of his storied career, only to watch his one-time team celebrate again without him. Now on top of that, every single accomplishment Clemens had between his time with the Sox in 96 and the Astros in 2004 (when, it’s worth noting he won his record 7th Cy Young) has been tainted.
Oh but wait, it gets better. Clemens wasn’t the only one taking shots in the ass on those Series winning Yankees teams.
Andy Pettite: cheater
David Justice: cheater
Chuck Knoblauch: cheater
Jason Grimsley: cheater
Glenallen Hill: cheater
Denny Neagle: cheater
Mike Stanton: cheater
Dan Naulty: cheater
As if there weren’t enough shame in being a Yankees fan, we now have proof that half the team’s bullpen was juicing. If they’re going to attach an asterisk to Barry Bonds’ home run record, then by all means let’s put one on the Yankees’ World Series wins in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
A sad day for baseball, a lousy one in the Bronx, but once again Boston has reason to celebrate.
Now if only we can change the “Year 2000” chants to “nine-teen seventy-eight!”
* Whoops: forgot Jose Canseco won a ring with the Yanks in 2000 as well. How appropriate an omission is that?