Thursday, May 04, 2006

It's a Drag


Apparently the race is now on to see who can sign Roger Clemens to a contract for the second half of the season. The Astros, Yankee, Red Sox and Rangers are all going to make their pitch (excuse the pun) to Clemens over the next week or so. Roger, who was not eligible to sign with the Astros until May, 1 can now make his choice between all his suitors. He has pretty much said that he wants to play for the team that gives him the best chance to win a World Series. The other consideration of course is proximity to his family. The Astros offer him the best of both worlds. They were in the series last year and have gotten off to a surprising start, due to an amazing offensive output, this year. He lives in Houston, he doesn't have to even go the park if he's not pitching. He doesn't have to go on road trips if his spot in the rotation isn't going to come up and he gets home a few minutes after games are finished. It's a perfect situation for him.

So what exactly could Roger's motivation be for going through this four team bidding war? Could it really all be about money and ego? He says that he wants to play for a contender, well all of his potential teams are in first place (Houston is 1/2 a game out, but let's not nitpick). The problem with this requirement is that is in first in May is not necessarily the team that wins in September. Both the Yankees and Astros were below .500 for much of the first half of the season last year and obviously both ended up in the playoffs. Would he really pick the Texas Rangers if they end up being the team with the biggest lead in their division by the end of the month? I don't think so.

I don't believe that he's going to end up anywhere other than the Astros. There is no real reason to play anywhere else. It's not like he hasn't won a World Series before. He won twice with the Yankees and he's been in the Series on four other occasions. In fact he's done everything that there is to do in the sport. There's nothing left for him to prove. The question at this point should not be which team he's going to pitch for, but whether he pitches for the Astros or retires. That really is the only decision he has to make. Do I think that the Yankees are going to make an obscene offer (probably a million dollar a start)? Yes, but in the end I think that the offer from Houston will be driven up enough by the bidding from the other teams that he'll be able to take it.

It would be a shame if Roger never pitches again. He's an all time great and we may never see his like again, but he isn't being fair to the Astros at this point. According to Baseball-reference.com, Roger has made approximately $121 million in on the field salary ($53 million in the last five years alone). If he wants to play, he should just tell the Astros that he'll be ready on June, 15th and that he wants $10 million for half a season. That should be simple enough, but I think he enjoys the circus that is the Roger Clemens traveling show. He enjoys the daily speculation about where he's going to play and whether he's going to play. He enjoys being the center of attention.

I guess some athletes never want to relinquish the spotlight. In Roger's case however, he is managing to maintain the spotlight by not pitching. It may be the first time in history that a baseball player has been able to do that. Boxers with their constant retirement/unretirement can also do this sort of thing, but baseball players usually hang on until they absolutely can't perform any more. While, I'm sure the attention is fun for Roger, I am really beginning to believe that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for the Astros. It's time for him to make a decision and let them off the hook.

Come on Roger, give the Astros a break.

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