Well, The Rocketeer bombed …

Hi. My name is David Friedlander, and I hate Roger Clemens.

Now, I know that hate may be a very strong word, and yes, my mom always told me that you never should hate people, only dislike them, unless it’s your grandmother — but I hate Roger Clemens. It astounds me that he can get away with coming out of retirement after spending an entire year on a sickening farewell tour where he lamented leaving the game and the city he loved. (Mind you, New York is the second city for which he has pledged — a la Lionel Ritchie — his endless love.) Then fall goes by, and before even the premier free agents are off the market, Benedict Arnold signs with the Astros. The greatest part? The only thing that would have kept him from playing was the souped-up Hummer the Yankees gave him as a retirement present. Clemens didn’t want to give it back, but of course it is never about the money with Clemens. I was a mere three months away from a season without him strutting around the mound, fondling Ruth’s memorial and hearing Charlie Steiner talk about Mr. Splitty. And now he’s back?

Give me a second while I remove the pencil from my thigh.

How did it happen? Did he take Steinbrenner out to dinner, buy him a bottle of wine and then tell The Boss he just wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with anyone right now, only to turn around and shack up with Houston after a hot night at Toad’s? It really just blows my mind. Maybe it’s just his love affair with Andy Pettite. I can’t believe that, by the way. How did Georgie-Porgie let Pettite go? Did the Mets management report to the wrong office for a day? And now he plans on winning without a lefty starter? Torre has got to love this one. I know I do. But I hate the Yankees. Let’s save that for another time.

Fine. Fine. Fine. Players come out of retirement all the time. I understand that it is tough to leave the game you love. Jordan came back. Valderrama came back. Parcells is back. Yet, even the Tuna, claiming last retirement that he would never coach again, pales in comparison with the shenanigans Clemens pulled last year. The push to get him on the All-Star roster might as well have been accompanied by a fleet of violins. After Barry Zito was scratched by injury, Clemens got on the team and Lucifer got Roger’s third-born (one and two were sold off earlier). Incidentally, replacing Zito with Clemens couldn’t have been worse. It would be like George Lucas saying, “You know, Harrison Ford doesn’t scream Han Solo. Get me Gerald Ford. He’s the one. Ladies love Gerry.”

As much as it pains me to admit it, maybe the re-emergence of baseball’s favorite villain will help the country in its time of troubles. After all, now everyone has something to unite over. All of us, Republicans and Democrats, East Coast and West Coast, the lady who runs the Berkeley College Dining Hall and me, can come together in our universal loathing for Clemens.

In an interview given Tuesday, Jan. 15 on ESPN.com, George Steinbrenner said, “I only have the best things to say about him. I’m not at all bitter about what happened.” Words are one thing, but my sources lead me to believe that Steinbrenner is only OK with this because he recently tripled his Prozac intake. Even the ever-supportive Yankee fans that Clemens claims to have behind him are singing a different tune. An ESPN.com article this Sunday reported that Clemens was booed while receiving the Toast of the Town award at a New York banquet.

Now the Yankee fans have a taste of what their rivals felt when Clemens left Boston after the 1996 season after claiming he would only play for two teams, Boston and Houston. Where did he end up after all that? Oh yes … Toronto, Canada. Canada?! He didn’t just betray his team, but he committed treason against his country. He’s a traitor. He’s un-American. And he eats puppies. That last report is unconfirmed, but I wouldn’t put it past him.

Still, maybe at last we have found a force that will help heal some of these regional differences. It doesn’t necessarily look that way. My foreign correspondent and lifelong Red Sox fan Josh Kretman ’05 said, “Well, I think the Yankees fans should stop whining — Steinbrenner hires all of these mercenary sell-out baseball players away from their teams, and then when one of them is disloyal, they blow up. But Clemens is an a–wipe.” You’re right Josh, he is an a–wipe.

Some people will say this is great for the game. Having a hero like Clemens come back for one more go will be good for baseball. These people are wrong. Sure he won 300 games. Sixty-seven of those were with the big bats of the Yankees behind him. Hell, with my 74 mph heater and wicked curve I probably could have won at least seven. “I thought it was the ball.” Do people remember this? That was what he came up with after whipping the bat head at Piazza. He’s not a good person. I loathe him. And now you’re telling me I get to watch him for a whole year? Again?!

I need to go throw up.

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