Rocket’s Red Glare

This entry is dedicated to my friend Andrzej Niemyjski. Andrzej and I met four years ago and we quickly found a common interest, our love of baseball. We’ve spent countless hours talking trades, teams, and the future of baseball. It is awesome when you find someone who shares a passion for the game. I can rant and get tipped over when the Diamondbacks are not playing well or I can completely lose it when Bud Selig refuses to invoke the “best interests in baseball” clause when some owner or player does something to tarnish the game. Trina will just shake her head and walk away. But I know when I send a note to Andrzej that he’ll have similar views or at least share my outrage. That doesn’t mean we agree on everything, quite the contrary. Take for instance today’s starting pitching. All I have to do is mention a certain Houston Astros starting pitcher and I know it will make his blood pressure rise 50 points and I’ll get a 20 minute lecture about the selfishness of the players of today and how some stars put themselves above the team. I’m talking of course about Roger Clemens.

It’s no secret that Andrzej doesn’t think highly of the “Rocket”. According to Andrzej, Clemens holds the teams he plays for ransom and asks for favors no other player would dare get away with. How else can you explain the fact that Roger Clemens does not have to travel with the team if he doesn’t want to and that he has access to suites and other amenities that his teammates do not? You could argue that Clemens deserves such treatment given his accomplishments but you’d be in for a 30 minute discussion about how it takes 9 men on the field to make a team and no single person has ever won a World Series by themselves.

Clemens is now in the twilight of his career and this very well could be the last time the Arizona Diamondbacks players face someone of his magnitude. (Of course I said something very similar in 2001 when Clemens was pitching against the Diamondbacks in the World Series. Roger proved me wrong by accepting a nice Hummer as a retirement/parting gift then left New York only to un-retire and pitch a few more years. Karma does have a way of getting the universe in order though as Roger’s Hummer was stolen when his son took it to school.) With the Diamondbacks recent call-ups from their minor league team, they are now the youngest team in major league baseball so there are several of the players on the current roster who grew up watching Roger Clemens on television. It would be interesting to face a guy you grew up admiring and watching on television. I’m sure that has to make Clemens feel even older than he is when players bring that kind of thing up. I think even Andrzej would agree that Clemens is a unique player. His work ethic keeps him in better shape than many players that are a decade younger than he is. Today was no different. For seven innings he stymied the Arizona Diamondbacks hitters and was well on his way to victory. He completely dominated the game and it looked like the Diamondbacks were headed to Chicago having lost two of three to the Astros. Fortunately for Diamondbacks fans, Astros manager Phil Garner had a brain cramp and pulled Clemens after seven innings allowing the Diamondbacks to have their way with Chad Qualls, and Trever Miller tying the game. The Houston Astros were the perfect hosts making sure their guests left the party with a smile by allowing Conor Jackson to hit a home run that nearly hit the train in left field to go ahead. So while this may be Roger Clemens final year in Major League Baseball, he’ll have to go without counting the Arizona Diamondbacks as win number 344 in his career. That honor will have to go to another team.

On a somewhat related note, Carlos Quentin entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Brandon Medders to face Chad Qualls. After swinging at a strike, Quentin was hit in the leg by a pitch. This marked the first hit by pitch in Quentin’s major league career and the 32 time he has been hit this year. He is now only 286 behind Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings for the all-time record of being hit by a pitch. Personally I think he can catch Jennings.

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