Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dan Kennedy on Roger Clemens' latest woes:

I'm a Red Sox fan, and Clemens had some great years in Boston, including his astonishing 1986 season, when he nearly led the Red Sox to a World Series victory. But there were questions about his heart even then, with Clemens and then-manager John McNamara carrying on a years-long dispute over whether Clemens had asked to come out of the disastrous sixth game.

My enduring memory of Clemens, though, dates back to the 1990 playoffs. Clemens was facing his nemesis, Oakland A's ace Dave Stewart. And he started yelling at the umpire, who threw him out of the game in the second inning, enabling an Oakland sweep. Clemens's performance was gutless, but at least he didn't let Stewart beat him. He beat himself instead.

Greatest pitcher ever or not, Clemens has never been the one guy you wanted out there in a big game. The Red Sox would have to wait for pitchers like Pedro Martínez, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett to learn what clutch pitching was all about.

The Mindy McCready story may be unfair, but it's hard for me to work up much sympathy. Besides, Clemens has bigger things to worry about. If the perjury investigation leads to criminal charges, then he's more likely to wind up in prison than in baseball's Hall of Fame. It's quite a comedown, but he brought it all on himself.


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