Tagged: Roger Clemens

I Doubt This Is True But…

What do I know? In case you didn’t see the ESPNNew York article today about Petttte’s reluctance to come back, take a look.

Clemens reason for Pettitte’s pause?

Yankees lefty still waffling about next season as The Rocket’s perjury trial looms

MatthewsBy Wallace Matthews
ESPNNewYork.com
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Nearly four years after he cashed his last Yankees paycheck, $18 million for a half-season’s work and a 6-6 record, it is possible that Roger Clemens is still exacting a heavy price from the team.

[+] EnlargeRoger Clemens & Andy Pettitte
AP Photo/Kathy WillensPettitte and Clemens used to be very close, but not anymore.

We are now barely a month away from the beginning of spring training and Andy Pettitte has still not decided whether he wants to pitch in 2011.

On Thursday, he told a New York Post reporter who showed up on his doorstep in Deer Park, Texas, the same thing he told reporters in the clubhouse in Arlington the night the Yankees were eliminated by the Texas Rangers, the same thing he has been t
elling the Yankees during their infrequent conversations this offseason: that he hasn’t made a decision.

All season long, I believed his reason — a desire to spend time at home with his young but growing family, a desire I can relate to with two children of my own. But now, as Pettitte continues to dither on what he really wants to do, the thought occurs that there might be another factor at work.

Clearly, it’s not a matter of ability — Pettitte’s 11-2 record up to the point of his groin injury in July that robbed him of two months of the season proves he can still pitch, and probably better than anyone in the Yankees’ rotation not named Carsten Charles.

And it’s not a matter of money — right now, the Yankees’ payroll sits at a treacherously low $170 million and with Cliff Lee out of the picture, you know that $30 million of Boss Bucks is just burning a hole in Brian Cashman’s pocket.

So either Pettitte wants to pitch, or he doesn’t.

What’s taking him so long to decide?

Well, maybe it is what is waiting for him in July, a hot seat on the witness stand in the upcoming federal perjury trial against Clemens. Pettitte is expected to be the government’s star witness against his former teammate and buddy, and in fact, might be the only man standing between The Rocket and a jail cell.

Clemens, of course, is a slimy character. His accuser, Brian McNamee, is every bit as slimy with a background that is maybe even more shady. No matter how strong the evidence or how many dirty syringes McNamee saved in a soda can in his basement, his and Clemens’ testimony will probably cancel one another out just on the sleaze factor alone.

That leaves Pettitte, and his word, as the swing vote — and you know Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, is going after Pettitte in the only areas he can in order to discredit his testimony. He is going to do his level best to crush Pettit
te’s reputation for honesty and sincerity and religious convictions. Simply put, he is likely to try to paint Pettitte as a lying hypocrite whose word cannot and should not be trusted.

The cross-examination could get embarrassing and highly personal.

And in a situation like that, pitching for the New York Yankees every five days and facing a ravenous media horde on a daily basis is not exactly where anyone in his or her right mind would want to be.

In that context, Pettitte’s indecision becomes not only clear, but quite understandable. When Pettitte says he hasn’t decided, it seems to mean that he really wants to pitch, but something is keeping him from committing himself to it.

True, there have been other offseasons in which he waited until well into January to decide — one season, he announced his decision on Jan. 26 — but never one in which this kind of thing was looming over his head.

Facing reporters to answer questions regar
ding his HGH use in a news conference in spring training was like an appearance on “The View” compared with being grilled by a defense attorney trying to keep a client out of jail.

My guess is the fear of that is keeping Pettitte on the shelf so far this winter — and if so, then Clemens is about to drag down his old team once again.

This, of course, is as much the Yankees’ fault as it is Clemens’ — for forging an unholy alliance with a player almost universally despised in their clubhouse before he joined them, for indulging his “special desires,” for allowing him to write his own rules. Clemens pitched well in his first stint with the Yankees, but the negative things he brought along with him negate many of his accomplishments.

He embarrassed the team by throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza, forcing Joe Torre into the impossible position of having to defend the indefensible. He forced them to hire McNamee, who brought his own variety of shame and dishonor to the club.

Clemens, too, strung the Yankees along on what seemed like an annual Hamlet routine of to pitch or not to pitch, one year even going so far as to accept thousands of dollars worth of ”retirement gifts” — only to resurface the next year as a member of the Houston Astros. He neither returned the gifts nor showed an ounce of embarrassment.

But his crowning achievement came in 2007, when he played the Yankees for an $18 million contract — more like $28 million if projected over a full season — sat out until June, and then delivered a .forgettable 500 season. That was followed by his star turn in the Mitchell report, his shameful performance before Congress in which he introduced the word “misremembered” to the sports lexicon, and then he slunk off, many of us thought, forever.

But now, perhaps he is rearing his ugly head again. Now, he may be one of the reasons — not the only one, of course — why the Yankees head into spring training with a pitching rotation that is decidedly third-best in the division. Perhaps he is the reason Pettitte is so reluctant to do what it appears he really would like to do for one more season.

As a man who has ties to both the Yankees and Pettitte told me Friday, “He’s afraid of a lot of things right now. People have told him he’s going to be a major distraction this year. He knows his name is going to be dragged through the mud and he knows that when you’re a Yankee, there’s nowhere to hide.”

Maybe Pettitte is hoping Clemens will come to his senses and cop a plea before his case ever gets to trail. Maybe he is waiting to see if U.S. district judge Reggie Walton, who has already pushed back the start date from April to July, will delay the trial further, to October or November.

Or maybe he really is wrestling with the issues he discussed all season, the struggle between wanting to continue doing what he does so well and wanting to enjoy his family while they are still around to be enjoyed.

But if that was the whole story, you would think he would have made his decision by now.

Something is keeping Andy Pettitte from issuing the final verdict on his 2011 intentions.

Perhaps it’s the prospect of having to testify against Roger Clemens and stand up to what could be a public humiliation, both in the courtroom and in the clubhouse.

If that’s the case, then once again The Rocket will have cost his former team a whole lot more than just money.


Even if Andy does have concerns about having to leave the team to appear at a July trial, I’m sure the Yankees would accommodate him. And by then we’ll have Felix Hernandez so no problem! Honestly, I really hope the Clemens thing isn’t messing with our rotation. The Rocket and his weasel-of-a-former-trainer have done enough damage to the franchise already.


Top Ten Reasons Why Andy Pettitte Should Pitch Another Year

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He’s doing the dance again….He told Brian Cashman he wants to spend more time with his kids but he loves being a Yankee. He can’t make a decision yet. He won’t. We’re left to watch and wait and wonder. I’m not a patient person, so I think he needs some help with his plans. Here are the reasons I think he should put the pinstripes back on and give it one more go. Listen up, Andy:
#10) Hanging out with ballplayers is way more fun than making the bed, loading the dishwasher and taking out the garbage.
#9) Mrs. Pettitte won’t let you spit sunflower seeds in the house.
#8) Throwing over to first and picking off runners is still a kick – admit it.
#7) You’ll gain a lot of weight if you retire.
#6) You’ll be an “Old Timer” instead of an “active player” if you retire.
#5) All you’ll have to look forward to is testifying at Clemens’ trial if you retire.
#4) You won’t be invited to Jeter’s wedding if you retire – or his new house in Tampa.
#3) You won’t get that nice big check if you retire.
#2) You won’t be interviewed by Kim Jones, Suzyn Waldman, Jack Curry or anyone else if you retire.
#1) You’ll miss Cliff Lee’s debut as a Yankee if you retire.
What have I forgotten? We have to send Andy a list. And soon.

Top Ten Reasons Why Dave Eiland Was Fired

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Cashman said Eiland’s dismissal had nothing to do with the Yankees’ pitching performances in the playoffs, so that’s not it. And he refused to say whether it was related to the mysterious “personal leave of absence” that kept Eiland away from the team for nearly a month. So we’re left to speculate on our own, and in my case that’s a dangerous thing. Herewith some theories…
#10 He had a secret Twitter account under the name @Joba_Rules_Are_Stupid.
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#9  He repeatedly told Mo that the Panamian skirt steak at Mo’s New York Grill was tough and overcooked.
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#8  During Game 6 of the ALCS, he picked up the phone in the dugout and called 1-800-FLOWERS.
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#7  He refused to wear a jacket and tie on the flight back from Texas.
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#6  He acted huffy because the Yankees wouldn’t let him sing “God Bless America” during the season – even though Haley Swindal got to do it.
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#5  He had T-shirts printed up that said, “Javy Vazquez belongs in the National League.”
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#4  He teased Jonathan Albaladejo that he looked like Lurch in the Addams Family.
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#3  He deliberately miscounted the number of innings Phil Hughes pitched this year. Oops.
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#2  He invited Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens to the same cocktail party.
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And #1 (Drum roll) He was the one who gave A.J. the black eye.
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The Yankees Lost; I’m More Concerned About A-Rod

When your cleanup hitter comes out of the game for Ramiro Pena, something’s wrong. It wasn’t until the Orioles were on their way to shutting down the Yanks when word finally came that A-Rod’s groin was acting up again.
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Or should I say his adductor magnus. Sounds way more dignified. Anyhow, I’m concerned. I don’t want this injury to become, you know, nagging.
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And I certainly don’t want it to be related to his hip surgery from last year. We already have Brett Gardner’s thumb to deal with, not to mention that Aceves’s back doesn’t seem to be getting better and Jorge still hasn’t been cleared to catch. (Why even bring up Nick Johnson and his wrist? No point.) It all makes me appreciate how lucky the Yankees were last year, injury wise. Sure, Wang’s loss was a blow, but once A-Rod came back in May the everyday lineup stayed remarkably healthy. Or am I “misremembering,” as someone famously said?
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If Tex and Posada were hitting with any consistency, I wouldn’t panic about losing A-Rod for a few days (if, in fact, that’s all the time he’ll need to heal). Cano can’t do all the heavy lifting himself. Neither can Granderson. Speaking of whom, Melissa is an avid reader of Grandy’s blog and pointed out to me that he invites readers to ask him a question by emailing him here: curtis@curtisgranderson.com


So what should we ask him? If I were going to write to him about tonight’s loss to the O’s, here’s what I’d ask:
* Is it frustrating to watch A.J. hit batters and throw wild pitches?
* Was the O’s starter, Arrieta, really good or the Yanks’ offense kind of bad?
* Do you mind that Swisher seems to have taken the #2 spot instead of you?
* Did you get nervous when Kevin Russo was our only available pinch hitter?
* Were you mad at the third base ump for calling all those checked swings?
* Do you hate to lose as much as the fans do?
* Did you give A-Rod any medical tips for avoiding the DL?
Anybody else have a question for Grandy? He seems so nice I bet he’ll answer us.
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Five Ways To Rehabilitate Joba

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Joba lasted his usual three innings in Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Mariners, and they weren’t pretty: seven earned runs on six hits, including a three-run dinger to Griffey. The Yankees couldn’t muster any offense, either; only Tex had a pulse. The bright spot was Mitre, who threw five scoreless innings in relief.
So what’s the real reason Joba has baffled everybody with his ineffectiveness this year? Could it be that he never pitched a full season in Triple A? That he shouldn’t have been moved from the pen to the rotation? That the Joba Rules messed with his mind? That he’s injured and not telling anyone?
All of the above are plausible answers, but I’ve come up with some other possibilities that, if implemented, could salvage his season. Here we go.
#1) Joba Should Take Back His Birth Name.
As everyone knows by now, his little niece couldn’t pronounce his real name, Justin, and the nickname “Joba” stuck. But pitchers named Justin do extremely well in baseball, as in this guy. Change it back.
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#2) The Yankees should put Harlan Chamberlain, Joba’s father, on the payroll.
Joba went home to Nebraska during the All-Star break and pitched great when he first returned to the team. Whatever Harlan said or did worked miracles. Make Harlan an “advisor” and let him coach his son. He’d be better than Dave Eiland.
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#3) Joba Should Hang Out With Roger Clemens.
No, really. When Clemens was with the Yankees in ’07, he mentored Joba and preached throwing strikes, being aggressive, attacking the zone. Whether the Rocket also taught him about Icy Hot liniment treatments I couldn’t tell you, but what harm could they do?
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#4) The YES Network should produce a “Yankeeography” about Joba.
I realize that Yankeeographies are reserved for players who’ve been been with the team awhile, not to mention excelled as Yankees, but it would give Joba confidence to know that the organization still believes in him, despite his suckitude.
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#5) Joba should come over to my house while he’s in SoCal.
He won’t be pitching in the Angels series. He’ll have plenty of time on his hands. He should get in his rental car, drive up to Santa Barbara and let me explain the facts of life to him over a nice home-cooked meal. And then I’ll pop in the DVD of “Bull Durham” and make him watch the scene between Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) that goes like this.
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Crash: “You’ve got a gift. When you were a baby, the gods reached down and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt. You’ve got a Hall of Fame arm, but you’re pissing it away.”
Nuke: “I ain’t pissing nothing away. I got a Porsche already. I got a 911 with a quadraphonic Blaupunkt.”
Crash: “You don’t need a quadraphonic Blaupunkt. What you need is a curveball. In the show, everybody can hit a fastball.”
Nuke: “Well, how would you know? You’ve been in the majors?”
Crash: “Yeah, I’ve been in the majors. I was in the show for 21 days once – the 21 greatest days of my life. You never handle your luggage in the show. Somebody else carries your bags. You get white balls for batting practice. The ballparks are like cathedrals. The hotels all have room service. The women all have long legs and brains.”
Nuke: “They’re really hot, huh?”
Crash: “Yeah, and so are the pitchers. They throw ungodly breaking stuff in the show – exploding sliders. You could be one of those guys.”
I hope Joba takes me up on my offer. There are lessons to be learned from baseball movies, whether you’re a pitcher named Nuke LaLoosh or Joba Chamberlain.
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When A-Rod Addresses the Media, How Will It Go?

Assuming A-Rod returns from the Bahamas and decides to speak to the media about his steroids issue, what will his strategy be? So many choices. So many ways to handle the situation. So many precedents in popular culture. Let’s take a look.

1) He could go the Clemens route, appear on “60 Minutes” (again) and defiantly proclaim his innocence.
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2) He could take his case to the ladies on “The View,” just as Alec Baldwin did after the world heard him go off on his daughter, and act apologetic and combative at the same time.
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3) He could seek out the sympathetic Diane Sawyer, in the tradition of Mel Gibson after his anti-Semitic tirade, and try to be movie star charming.
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4) He could bypass the talk show format altogether and instead hold a Giambi-type press conference in which he says he’s sorry but doesn’t say what for.
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5) He could go in the direction of Andy Pettitte and say, “I was only trying to heal faster, not gain an edge on anybody, but I’m sorry and I promise never to do it again.”
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6) He could pull an Elliot Spitzer and say he’s sorry for hurting his family, even as he’s making his wife stand there, mortified.
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(Since A-Rod doesn’t currently have a wife, perhaps Madonna or even his mother would stand in.)
7) He could angrily deny wrongdoing by employing the “Finger Pointing Defense” perfected by Bill Clinton.
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8) He could plead insanity like Blago.
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9) He could emulate the remorseful Mike Tyson, who read a prepared statement apologizing for munching on both of Evander Holyfield’s ears.

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10) And, finally, he could cry – just break down and let the tears flood his cheeks, like Jimmy Swaggert did so many memorable years ago.
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While #10 would certainly be a YouTube sensation, I’m guessing we’ll see something along the lines of #5. 
I just hope I’m not asleep tomorrow morning when all this goes down. Living in the Pacific Time Zone does have its drawbacks.

Baseball Books (No, Not Mine Or Torre’s)

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I just got my copy of Publishers Weekly, the trade magazine that covers the book industry in the same way that Variety, its sister publication, covers Hollywood. There’s a section on forthcoming sports books and I thought some sounded interesting.
Take a look at the spring roster of baseball titles – something for fans of all stripes.

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 “As They See ‘Em” by Bruce Weber. Can’t wait for this one. Weber, a New York Times reporter, spends a season around major league umpires, even going to umpire school, and reveals all sorts of secrets. (March)
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“Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit” by Matt McCarthy. In the tradition of “Bull Durham,” McCarthy comically recounts his year as a southpaw for the Provo Angels, the team’s Class A club in Mormon country. (Feb. 19)
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“The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound” by Ron Darling. The former Mets star and current broadcaster dissects the art of pitching. He’s doing a 10-city author tour, so he’s sure to be signing at lots of stores. (April)
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“Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero” by Peter Morris. A look back at catchers in history and how they became more and more important to the sport. (April)
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“Yogi Berra: The Eternal Yankee” by Allen Barra. I know. Yet another book about Yogi. But this one’s supposed to chronicle his defining moments. Besides, I like the cover. (March)
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“Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O’Malley, Baseball’s Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles” by Michael D’Antonio. Since there will be two books about George Steinbrenner coming out, why not one about O’Malley? (March)
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“Fighting Words: The Media, the Red Sox and the All-Encompassing Passion for Baseball in Boston” by Jerry Beach. A detailed account of “the combative relationship between the media and the Beantown team.” Is there a combative relationship? I guess we’ll find out. (April)
“Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball From Itself” by Michael Shapiro. A biography of the men who tried to change the course of the sport. For history buffs. (June)
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“Hit and Run: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez” by Selena Roberts. (No, that’s not A-Rod; it’s investigative reporter Roberts. There’s no cover yet.) The book is described as “an expose of A-Rod’s controversial path to self-destruction.” If he wins another MVP in ’09, will that be considered self-destruction? (May) 
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“The Rocket That Fell to Earth: Roger Clemens and the Rage for Baseball Immortality” by Jeff Pearlman. Well, we knew the Clemens books were coming. They were inevitable. Here’s the first. No cover yet. (June)
Happy reading.