Time To Re-Ignite Roger Clemens & "The Kurse." NY Yankees 5 Back in Wild Card

Patrick ReadSenior Writer IAugust 26, 2008

         Forget About Carl Pavano, Phil Hughes, & Darrell Rasner Saving This Season


   “Reignite The Kurse With The Rocket Revenge Tour”



                                    Washington DC  -   Aug. 26, 2008

This week, Aug. 29, will mark the one-year anniversary of Roger Clemens throwing seven shutout innings against Boston, providing Hank’s “answer to Beckett,” (postgame video) while squaring off against the Sox’s ace and his former team for the first time since 2003. Clemens won. 

  • When walking off the field after facing the Red Sox for a final time, Roger Clemens received a standing ovation

Now, with the New York Yankees only five games back in the wild-card race and on the brink of snapping their record 14-consecutive postseason appearances, all while in the last year of "The Cathedral of Baseball."

This season hinges on what pitchers are going to fill the fourth and fifth roles of the starting rotation. 

A year removed from Colorado's famous comeback—they were under .500 mere days before June (sound familiar?)—when the Rockies were sparked in the biggest rally in modern baseball by an 11-game win streak and made the postseasons for only the second time in team history.

One thing is for sure—anything is possible.

In just one year’s time, the Yankee’s pitching staff has been thoroughly decimated to a mere fraction of what it was intended to be: Wang, Pettitte, Joba, Moose, and Hughes. 

Steinbrenner has recently related that the Yankees have been crushed by injuries by blows with the likes of ace, Chien Ming Wang, having missed more than 45 games. To top it off, the Yankees announced last week that an October return to the rotation for Wang is now...unlikely.  

  • Wang is done for the season. 

After enduring five months of Brian Cashman’s “Youth Movement,” one thing is certain:  The youth movement has now gotten very old for fans.

Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy were injured early on in the season and have each missed 80 games. Before exiting stage left, when the two "Future Yankee Stars" were healthy, each had an ERA of over 10.  

Kennedy, with a mere oblique strain, has made comeback appearances on two different occasions this year, and each instance has spelled disaster for the Yankees. After the first comeback, Kennedy expressed his displeasure with the New York “way of life” and looked forward to getting back to Scranton—where he may call home for a long time, unless he's traded.  

In his last two starts, Kennedy has gone a total of 10 innings pitched and has given up 13 hits leading to a total of five runs. 

Hughes has yet to make his first comeback appearance, and his health is steadily progressing after having pitched with a broken rib. Hopefully his comeback appearance will be better than his initial debut earlier this year...but that's unlikely. 

On Aug. 22, Hughes pitched in Scranton for 3.1 innings and gave-up 10 hits and allowed eight runs to score. While he did have six strikeouts and only one walk, which could give faith to those more optimisticthe real damage came in the form of hits. 

When Hughes “misses his pitches,” his missed pitches are bad and the result usually is not a walk—his missed pitches are meatballs that linger over the middle of the plate. Thank God Hughes’s miscues are only to children down in the minors, because if he is that bad down there...I won’t finish that thought.

During his last two games in Scranton, Phil has thrown a total of seven innings and has given up 13 runs on 18 hits—hey, he only gave up one walk and got 10 strikeouts. It seems as though Hughes needs to find the black of the plate a little more and go from edge to edge; he needs to work the ladder instead of throwing meatballs anywhere.

After finally, making it back from rehab to Scranton, at least his ERA is better now; he has improved to an 8.47 ERA. This is a disaster waiting just around the corner for Yankee fans.

Pavano has been injured for two years with five different injuries and has collected $39 million for only 20 games pitched. He faced the Orioles on Saturday and gave up three runs on seven hits over five innings and got out of serious jams twice. His last appearance in Scranton was bumpy too, as he gave up five runs in 4.1 innings to minor-league players.

Last but not least, Joba Chamberlain has been out for three weeks, and he may not even make it back to the rotation this season, which would be a mistake, unless management likes to keep its youth movement thoroughly confused

  • On the other hand, would it be worth the risk to start him again in an almost-certain lost season? Joba has recently said that he will return to the team as a starter; but Joe Girardi has yet to confirm it.

Somehow, through all the tribulation, the rotation has kept the score to three runs or less more than 75 times out of 130 games, but 24 of these games resulted in losses and that was with Joba. 

Yes, other teams have injuries too, but no other team has had to face their injuries all at the same time and with such pivotal players.

With only five weeks left in the season, Yankee fans are pondering whom to rely upon to complete the rotation, which is comprised of Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and Sidney Ponson. The last two spots will either make or break the team’s chance at extending the postseason streak and provide for a possible bridge of winning seasons into the new Stadium.

Would you rather rely on Darrell Rasner and Carl Pavano in must-win games?

Or would you to rely on Roger Clemens, who makes those around him want to play better, to fill one spot and provide the team a chance to win?   

As Yankee fans ponder whom to rely upon with just over one month left in the season, they would do well to remember that the best pitcher in the last 50 years, who was ranked 15 on Sport’s Illustrated’s “Best Players of All-Time List,” is a free agent.

Yes, it is time for the next generation of players to leave their mark, but so far, the mark is a failing grade. It is time to rely on the proven veteran—unless George Mitchell is the Yankee manager and can now pitch.

Roger Clemens is the All-Time Cy Young Award Leader with seven.

Rocket is third with the most strikeouts all time, having just been surpassed in a season that he has been shunned by the league, regardless of how the fans feel.

He is seventh in games started.

Clemens is eighth all time in wins.

He is 14th in strikeouts per nine innings.

With these all-time records, people should remember that he has maintained excellence, like Nolan Ryan has, throughout his 24-year career. Needless to say, he ain’t no “flash in the pan” like some.

It is time to blow it up and send a Yankee shockwave, league-wide, through Yankee Universe, and really shake things up enough to confuse every manager that was planning on preparing for Pavano or Rasner and now has to get ready for "the Rocket." Opposing hitters would equally be abuzz.

In the last year of the "House that Ruth Built," why not give fans the chance to send Clemens off with some dignity—who is known for rubbing Babe Ruth’s Forehead before each start?

24 years is a long time to make the bull-do, to never quit, and to protect his own teammates by throwing chin music when deemed appropriate. It is a long time for ESPN to make money off of all of the "Rockets" highlight reels and for papers to do the same in the circulation of the name, Rocket—so, why go out with a whimper?

Instead, “Reignite the Curse with the Rocket’s Return” and close the door on Ruth’s house with a like-type story, a man that initially played for Boston and ended his baseball tenure in New York—and much to Boston’s chagrin—the marketing alone would more than pay for it.

The Yankees would ensure one thing by rehiring Clemens—if Clemens finally does go into the Hall of Fame, then he would go in as a Yankee and not as one of George Mitchell’s Red Sox—which would really steam some Boston Beans.

Unless the Yankees are willingly taking this disgraceful season sitting down—just like they took the Mitchell Report sitting down—the fans say, “win at all cost.” It is, after all, their money that is lining everyone’s pockets, from owner to player.

After the “report” was released, Hank said “Don’t rush to judgment,” as did Yankee Captain, Derek Jeter, along with many other players. 

Joba Chamberlain believes Clemens and still stays in touch with him, texting Roger everyday. Jorge Posada, who worked out with Clemens, said that he “believed the Rocket” and Mike Mussina said, “There is something about Roger that makes everyone around him better.”   

Could that type leadership help the team? Everyone wants to do better with Clemens on the team.

After Joba Chamberlain was injured in Texas, Hank Steinbrenner said, “I have never seen a team so decimated by injuries,” Hank went on, “I am not giving up on this year though – I will get a “TOP VET” if I have too.”

                                Well Hank, what’s the hold up here? 

If you “haven’t given up on this season yet,” then why wait to sign that “Top Vet” to pitch? Do so now, before the 15-year postseason streak is broken in the last year of the Cathedral...that your father built.

There is only one chance to keep the streak alive, and the time is now.

I don’t think Hank is lying, and I have covered him since last fall. He is a very direct man, who is short and to the point. He said Joba would start this year, and Joba is a starter; regardless of what all the “experts” on ESPN opine. 

Hank said that Mussina had to change his style, and he did so, and now has 16 wins and is being talked about for the Cy Young. Hank said that if certain players couldn’t produce, then they would be dealt with...“so-long” Farnsworth and Sexson—maybe we’ll see you later, Melky Cabrera. 

  • What is clear to fans: When Hank talks, things happen.

With Gregg Maddux being just signed by the L.A. Dodgers, Byrd being signed by Boston, and Gary Sheffield, who was waived by Detroit, recently stated that he wants to play for the Red Sox, what other “top vet” is still available?

The only “top vet” that remains available is Roger Clemens, when considering that the other is David Wells, who just played in the old timers game the week of the All-Star Game.

There are so many in the media that opine that Roger is done, he is too old and not good enough anyhow. When will these same people ever learn to not count Roger out, or are they just hoping aloud that he doesn’t return?

Last year, Clemens was a 4.18 ERA, translated to this year, and he would have the second-lowest ERA on the team, but there are naysayers that speak to the record he had of 6-6; judging by this year’s Yankees, anyone can see that a great performance by the starter doesn’t always equate to a win, and yes, he was injured last year as well, but don’t let that fool you.

A 4.18 ERA is one of the lowest of Clemens’s  lengthy career, and the last time he threw that high was in Boston, and he followed the 4.18 year with a 3.5 ERA in 1996. Clemens then went on to win two consecutive Cy Youngs in Toronto, boasting a minus-three ERA and then won another Cy Young in NY with a 3.6 ERA.  

In 2004, Clemens won the Cy Young in Houston with a 2.98 ERA and the next year threw his lowest career ERA with a 1.87, but he finished third in the Cy Young voting. In both years, he led the Astros to the postseason. Pitchers do not just “lose” that type of talent, especially when it has been proven year in and year out for a lengthy 24-year career—he is a proven talent. 

One might say he is too old, but those with that opinion might consider what Joba Chamberlain has recently said, “Rocket’s work routine is legendary.” If that doesn’t convince you that he is in shape, then consider what Curt Schilling said, “Rocket was responsible for turning my career around. He really lit into me about my being out of shape.”

Judging by Clemens's last four years, he has only been injured twice—once with NY and once while an Astro. He pitched in 17 games last year with the Yankees and 19 games the year prior with Houston, where he threw a 2.3 ERA.

The fact that when Clemens was brought in last year—and Yankee fans went ballistic—should prove to everyone that Clemens is welcomed in New York, despite what Mike Lupica tells fans what to think. 

There is a term that defines Little Mikey Lupica pretty well: Narcissism, where the patient suffers from the delusion that everything is all about himself, or maybe he  just has a Napoleon Complex, which a lot of those shorter people suffer. 

Miguel Tejada is facing down the same federal “perjury investigation” as Clemens, but with more proof against him than does Roger. Miguel is having another career year, despite the Democrats attempt to “clean a private business up.”

He just appeared in Yankee Stadium and played shortstop for the NL All-Star Game, where he put on a clinic. 

Needless to say, the so-called distraction of the investigation is not distracting Tejada one bit.

Barry Bonds was recently welcomed back to San Francisco for an All-Time Greatest Outfielders Ceremony—which was the Giants' way of accepting Barry back, regardless of “alleged abuses.” Bonds recently filed to have the majority of perjury charges dismissed, as the original Balco Judge, Ilston, remains suspicious of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office for their motive and tactics.

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was named in the Mitchell Report, and he was just signed by the Yankees not more than two weeks ago, but the catching position isn’t New York’s “Achilles Heal,” because Jose Molina is still in the rotation at least two games out of every five.

The offense is a source of contention for the Yankees, which Pudge does help, as does Xavier Nady. 

The offense was strengthened by the return of Hideki Matsui, but one cannot say the offense is the only problem that the Yankees have faced this year. 

One cannot say that the offense is the main problem, which was made evident by the fact that Molina and Robinson Cano play at the same time, who lead the team with Yankees lowest batting averages—despite Melky Cabrera being sent down for a lack of offense.

The problem that the Yankees face, since Joba went on the DL, is pitching. And the “replacement pitchers” will decide the fate of the last year of the Cathedral and the streak gained in it.  

One cannot replace Wang and Joba with lesser type pitchers and expect to win – when the Yanks were barely scrapping by when Joba and Wang were healthy.

Reignite "The Curse" with the "Rocket Revenge Tour" and New York will make it to the postseason. Besides, it’s my birthday today, and this is my wish...;o)

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