Results tagged ‘ Roger Clemens ’

The Exception?

manny-ramirez.jpgAlright…with Manny Ramirez retiring suddenly this past week to avoid a second suspension for failing a drug test, it begs the question: HOF?

Taking steroids out of the equation, this guy is a first-ballot HOF-er.  I would argue that he was the greatest righthander hitter in baseball from 1995-2008, and one of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history.  Sure, he was a complete spaz and couldn’t field a lick, but when you hit like that it doesn’t really matter.  During the mid-1990s he and Jim Thome provided potency to the Cleveland Indians, then he and David Ortiz teamed up as perhaps the most dominant 3-4 combination since Ruth-Gehrig.  Even his stint with the Dodgers (before the first suspension that signaled the end of his career) was incredible.

Some of the career stats: .312 BA, .411 OBP, .585 SLG, .996 OPS, 2,574 H, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI.

He was always a favorite player of mine (when not tormenting Twins pitching, of course) for just his pure hitting ability.  The guy didn’t give a lick about anything, but he was blessed with the ability to hit a baseball really, really hard with surprising frequency.

Of course, much like Andy Pettitte, the steroid issue will cloud Manny’s candidacy.  Like Pettitte and, say, A-Rod, Manny is a confirmed steroid user.  That being said, he didn’t make up ridiculous stories in his defense (e.g. Barry Bonds), didn’t become a jerk about it (e.g. Roger Clemens), didn’t refuse to speak about the past (e.g. Mark McGwire), didn’t blatently deny his usage (e.g. Rafael Palmeiro), and didn’t forget how to speak English when questioned (e.g. Sammy Sosa).  Basically, he just got caught and served his time.

My feeling on the matter right now is that I would put Manny in the Hall, but not after a few years of “punishment waiting” sitting on the ballot.  Perhaps I am being too sentimental and should be harder on the guy, but at least he didn’t deny, deny, deny and make baseball look like a bunch of guys trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

Time will tell.

Andy Pettitte: HOF?

Andy Pettitte retired this week.  Putting aside the steroid stuff for a moment, I believe he belongs in the HOF five or so years from now.

gal_andy_pettitte_14.jpg

The raw stats (240 wins, high-ish 3.88 ERA) might not bear this statement out, but (at least to me) what Pettitte always signified was “winning”.  This guy just, plain and simply, won ballgames.  His overall winning % is .635 over 16 seasons, and if you look at the stats there are just so many seasons where he won 9-10 more games than he lost.

Plus, Pettitte was the epitomy of a big-game pitcher.  Sure, he got the chance to pitch under the October lights so many times because of his Yankee pinstripes, but his career postseason #’s are 19-10, 3.83, in 263 innings.  So, basically, he pitched an entire season in the postseason, and almost exactly duplicated his regular-season stats (high win percentage, highest-3′s ERA).  Not bad at all on the biggest of stages for the biggest of teams.  When he pitched against my Twins in a big game, I had very little hopes for pulling out a victory.

The one problem, of course…

andy_pettitte_roger_clemens_back_shot_astros_photofile.jpg

Andy Pettitte is inside that steroid cloud based on his relationship with Roger Clemens.  In fact, Pettitte admitted using HGH on multiple occasions, supposedly in order to heal an injury and help return to the team faster, not necessarily to improve performance (definitions, definitions, I know).  I’m usually wary of these guys, but for whatever reason I’ll give Pettitte the benefit of the doubt.  Considering that no firm anti-doping rules were in place before the mid-2000s, players in a situation like Pettitte’s WERE likely unsure what was “right” or “wrong” to do chemically and still play by the rules.  While I truly believe that Clemens knew that what he was doing was wrong but did it anyway because he just didn’t care, I think that Pettitte was caught in that grey area of past steroid usage.

Thus, if I’m voting, I’m putting Mr. Pettitte in the Hall.

A-Rod 600: Make Your Own Kind Of Judgement

Last week, Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th home run:

rodriguez_1691231c.jpg

Was there a big hoopla over an event that, 20 years ago, would have captivated the entire sport?  No, as long as you don’t count the number of at-bats it took him to finally blast-off again.

More interesting, though, is the lack of steroid-related snipings and gripings.  Where’s the outrage at “A-Roid” joining the same club as the Say Hey kid:

willie-mays-d2.jpg To me, this indicates what the future of the Steroid Era might hold.  Instead of the outrage that accompanied the feats of McGwire, Sosa, and Clemens, now baseball fans are taking a “make your own judgement” approach to the issue.  It used to be that we wanted to re-write the record books, but now we realize that the steroid issue is so pervasive that it cannot be successfully excised.  So, we make up our own minds as to who the record holders are.

I know who mine are:

hankaaron.jpg

babe_crown.jpgNot a perfect system, by far, but perhaps it will have to suffice, like a scar reminding you of an old wound that will never quite heal.

Just In Case…

Royals_Twins_Baseball_sff_175619_game.jpgTonight, the Twins figured out Zack Grienke and got a superb outing from Kevin Slowey en route to a 7-3 victory over the still-hapless (especially on the road) KC Royals.

However, the entire baseball universe was ecplised today by the debut of young pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals:

Pirates_Nationals_Baseball_sff_175552_game.jpg

Just in case he turns out to be the next Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, or Randy Johnson, I would be remiss not to mention this spectacular debut, so future generations (when they dig out my computer from all the rubble and power up MLBlogs!) could be privvy to his initial greatness.

Against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, Strasburg struck out 14 batters in seven innings, whiffing the last seven men he faced in the contest.  He gave up a two-run that only left the park because the velocity on the pitch was so nasty, but teammates Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham also homered to get the young kid a victory.

I’ve been watching baseball for quite awhile now, but I’ve never seen anything like this: a youngster so thoroughly dominant at this (the infant) stage of his career.  Sure, it was only Pittsburgh, arguably the worst team in the majors this season, but he had them completely flummoxed.  It should be even more fun to watch him terrorize good hitters as his innaugural season progresses.

Notes:

-It was nice to hear from Joe Nathan (in the broadcast booth) tonight, as I really miss him and wish him all the best in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery.  He seems like a class act and all-around nice guy.

-The only bad news of the night: Orlando Hudson was put on the 15-day DL from lingering wrist soreness after last week’s collision with Denard Span.  Doesn’t sound like anything too serious, so hopefully some rest will allow it to clear itself up and not linger all season long.

Preview (34-24, 1st, 3.5 GA DET): Kyle Davies (4-4, 5.49) vs. Carl Pavano (5-6, 4.11)

The Doc Is OUT

3305f3be-e2b9-411d-9bbe-9461d17e41dd.jpgI really don’t like to say anything bad about Roy Halladay, as he is one of my favorite pitchers to watch in the American League, but the Twins finally (for the first time in 12 years) got to him today and came away with a victory.

There have been a handful of pitchers over the years who have had the Twins’ number, including Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Mark Buerhle (for a time) and Chuck Finley. The latest in that string had been Halladay, 8-0 in his career against the Twins.

Of course, we really didn’t GET to him tonight (a couple of solo homers from Cabrera and Morneau) and a big hit from Cuddyer, and he still managed to pitch all nine innings of the contest (what a gamer!). It’s just that Carl Pavano was just as good through seven and one third, allowing just one run on six hits and striking out five.

A few things that were nice to see:

-Morneau and Cuddyer driving balls again. Morneau really crushed that one in the eighth inning (hitting it that deep in Rogers Centre is quite a feat), and Cuddyer had been in the pattern of giving away at-bats again until breaking out in the ninth.

-Pavano pitching deep (and well) into the late innings of a game.  If his price tag isn’t too high, I think that the Twins would do well to sign him up again for 2010.  He’s never going to be the next Johan Santana or even Brad Radke, but he can (on a pretty regular occasion) post a quality start, something the young guys in the rotation haven’t yet been able to accomplish.

-In other baseball news…

2AzQnlfN.jpg

With three hits in the Yankees game today, Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig for the most hits all-time by a Yankee at 2,721.  I have never been shy about letting people know that, while not hating the Yankees outright (like I do the White Sox!), I pretty much despise everything they stand for (big market greed, selfish owner, etc.).  However, Derek Jeter is the exception to that rule.  I have always admired his day-to-day ability, and (in a way) he sort of reminds me of Cal Ripken (just with a great skill-set).  A first-ballot Hall of Famer if he never plays another game.

Preview (70-69, 2nd, 5.5 GB DET): Scott Baker (13-7, 4.34) vs. Brett Cecil (6-4, 5.46). We gained a game on Detroit last week…now we have to do it again.  With the season running out of dates, the way I see the Twins having a chance is if, going into both series’ with the Tigers, we need to be close enough so that a sweep will pull us even with them.  Even then it is a long shot, but look at what happened with the Twins and Sox last year. 

I Think I’m Gettin’ Old

Two hot topics circulating the baseball newswires (especially Baseball Tonight!) right now are really making me feel old…

Pudge.jpg

First is the notion that no team will sign Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez because he is too old and his skills are declining.  I remember that during Pudge’s prime, he was so good defensively that teams just stopped running against him altogether.  Plus, at least while in Texas, he was ALWAYS good for a .300 average (if not much higher) and 30 home runs.  All told, he could probably challenge the old notion of Johnny Bench being the greatest backstop of all time.  Now no teams want him?!  Heck, if Joe Mauer ever got hurt for an extended period of time, I would take Rodriguez in a heartbeat.

umart.jpg

Secondly, can you believe that Pedro Martinez is not on a major league baseball team right now?!  I know that his “heater” only tops out around 90 mph (if that) these days and his chances of making it through an entire season are slim, but c’mon…it’s Pedro!  An interesting conversation-starter that I like to pose to fellow baseball fans around my age (23) is this: If your team needed to win one game, which pitcher (in his prime) would you want on the mound: Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, or Pedro Martinez?  For me, the answer was always Pedro, as his late 1990s seasons were the stuff of legends.  As long as I live, I will never forget watching Pedro strike out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire in the 1999 All-Star Game in his Carl Hubbell impersonation.

I guess what this means is that, if I were a GM, I would be the type that allows the old guys to hang on a bit too far past their prime.  But seriously…let’s say for a second that the Twins picked up Martinez on a whim.  In Game Seven of the hypothetical World Series, who would you want on the mound…him or Scott Baker (no disrespect to Scotty)?  I thought so.

The Ongoing Clemens Saga

ClemensYork.jpg

Not that I enjoy posting this sort of news on my blog, but the most recent development in the Roger Clemens vs. Brian McNamee case involves McNamee claiming that he injected Clemens multiple times (either in an apartment or right in the Yankee Stadium hot tub) during the 2001 with steroids and HGH.  Supposedly, the syringes McNamee handed over to the federal government some time ago even contain traces of Clemens’ DNA.

As I’ve said many times before, I think that Clemens is one of the most obviously guilty parties of the Steroid Era.  The only difference between him and pretty much all the others (McGwire, Sosa, etc.) is that Clemens (being a hothead his entire playing career) is fighting McNamee tooth and nail instead of just keeping quiet.  Thus, McNamee is now bringing out his big guns.

Of course, I don’t know what it says about McNamee’s character that he saved syringes that Clemens wanted him to discard, but this could be one of those situations where the ends justify the means.

The “Rocket” Fizzles!

roger_clemens_liar.jpgBesides all the fallout of the Alex Rodriguez steroid admission, which I will discuss on this blog in more detail in a later post, it was also recently announced that a federal judge dismissed basically all of Roger Clemens’ “defamation of character” lawsuit against former personal trainer Brian McNamee, who said in last year’s Mitchell Report that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

For once, I think the U.S. justice system got things right!!  McNamee was promised federal immunity for his contributions to George Mitchell, and that is exactly what he is getting right now.  So, in essence, Clemens isn’t able to screw him over for just telling the truth.

As you will likely find out by reading my upcoming blog posts about steroids in major league baseball, I am a huge proponent of holding everyone (players, managers, trainers, commissioner Selig, etc.) accountable for the Steroid Era of 1994-2003.  Thus, I think that Clemens is getting EXACTLY what he deserves.  Whereas most players (Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, etc.) have completely disappeared following steroid accusations, Clemens (because he is a jerk…just ask Mike Piazza about that) decided to lie through his teeth and fight it tooth and nail.  So far, though, he’s not winning and I’m all for that.

My Favorite Pitcher Of All-Time Says Goodbye

Maddux.jpg

In the last day or two, an announcement came over the baseball wires that Greg Maddux announced his retirement after 23 years in major league baseball.  I was quite saddened to hear this, as I consider Mad Dog (a nickname that totally belies Maddux’s personality) to be the greatest pitcher of our generation.  Before my reminisces start, let’s just take a quick look at the stats…

355 wins, 227 losses, 109 complete games, 35 shutouts, 5,000 innings pitched, 3,371 strikeouts, 999 walks, 3.16 ERA, 4 consecutive Cy Young awards (1992-1995).

Though I once considered Roger Clemens to be the greatest pitcher of the modern era, his steroid taintings have dropped him off my list.  Those stats that Maddux posted, most of them in the middle of the “Steroid Era” (roughly 1988-2005), are incredible and would even compare favorably to many pitchers in the dead-ball era, when getting batters out was a relatively simple task.

I first became “acquainted” with Maddux during the mid-1990s, when I actually despised the Atlanta Braves, as they were a large-payroll team (at least back then under Ted Turner) in the same mold as the New York Yankees.  In fact, I always rooted against Maddux (my hero was Kevin Brown, his arch-enemy many a time) and for any team (most likely the Mets) that could beat him.  However, I was usually disappointed, as Maddux was ALWAYS on top of his game in postseason games.  Then, as my Twins began to rise in the standings (funny how attitudes soften towards winning teams when your favorite team is one of them?!), I looked at Maddux in a completely different light…not as a tormentor but as the absolutely dominating pitcher he was.

What really made Maddux so great was the movement of his pitches and his pin-point location.  He never really had a great (+ 90 mph) heater, but that ball seemed to twirl and dive like no others.  Combine that with his excellent collection of breaking balls (namely the changeup) and his diligent studying of opposing batters and Maddux was nearly impossible to have any kind of steady success against.  Even in his last few seasons, Maddux was still perplexing opposing batters who had been facing him for a century or more!

So, it really saddens me to see Maddux retire.  I always got excited watching him pitch, as not only was his mastery of his craft a sight to behold, but I also felt like I was watching history in the making, kind of like going to a long-forgotten era of baseball where pitchers dominated batters.  Years from now, it will be an honor to say that I got to see Greg Maddux pitch.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.