The New York Yankees: Pride, Power, Pinstripes... And Pandering To An Old Guy Who Can Sort Of Still Pitch
Guest poster Bernard King isn't exactly loving the "Clemens Rules":
I planned to save this post for after game three of the ALDS, when Roger Clements will maybe give four mediocre innings against a pedestrian Cleveland offense, but reading the New York Post yesterday during my morning commute, I couldn’t help myself:
Yankee Notes: …Since Joe Torre didn’t hear from Roger Clemens, the manager assumed Clemens would pitch a simulated game in Tampa today and test his left hamstring. “I am sure the S.O.S. would have gone out,” Torre said when asked if Clemens was a go for today…
WHAT?!?!?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?! This is a guy who is slated to pitch in the third game of the ALDS and there isn’t Yankee personnel in Tampa around him 24/7 reporting status to Joe Torre and Brian Cashman? If Roger has to take a dump, Yankees “pitching guru” Billy Connors should be the one wiping his ass and letting Cashman know that everything went as planned. The fact that Roger is (and has been) allowed to conduct himself the way he has this season is a god damn travesty.
There was a time, not long ago, when players, fans, and media of other baseball teams could at least respect the way the Yankees handled themselves. When they were at their peak during their late-90’s run, it was truly hard to hate them. Of course, non-Yankee fans didn’t like how much they were winning, or that they outspent every other team in the league twofold, but at the very least, the Brian Cashman/Joe Torre Yankees ran a tight ship, conducted themselves in a businesslike manner on and off the field, and for the most part, had a an old-school like “code of conduct” that people respected. Despite the marketing folks’ attempt to put some tarnish on that shine (“Yankee Universe” in response to “Red Sox Nation,” Ultimate Road Trip, Camo Yankees Hats, etc.), this has largely held true for the entirety of Joe Torre’s run as the Yankees’ manager. On May 6, when Roger announced he was coming back to the Bronx, the Yankees took their “we do things the right way” credit and flushed right it down the shitter.
People in Yankee world have been so preoccupied with the “Joba Rules” that they’ve overlooked the “Roger Rules,” which are far more ridiculous and tremendously embarrassing to the franchise. At least the Joba Rules serve a purpose greater than the individual - conserving the arm of a key part of the Yankees future. To the contrary, the sole purpose of the Roger Rules is to keep an old, middling pitcher happy. Rule #1 - Roger doesn’t have to travel with the team for trips he’s not slated to pitch. Rule #2 - Roger will deal with his injuries in any manner he sees fit, including leaving the team and reporting on his injury status via text messages to Andy Pettitte.
So, what does $15 million and the Roger Rules get you? A 6-6 regular season and a playoff status that is currently up in the air (and apparently in the dark). Fantastic. I’m glad the Yankees abandoned their moral high-ground and allowed a 6-win pitcher to make his own rules and show their true colors in times of true desparation. I’m sure Ian Kennedy couldn’t have gotten 6 wins in as many starts for 1/15th of the money. Joe Torre has said it’s not just about wins and losses, its about what he brings to the locker room. If he’s not in the dugout, how does that work? Likewise, what kind of example is he setting by basically saying, “F you, I’ll pitch when I feel like it, not when organizational doctors and personnel say I’m fit to pitch.” Or, if he is that good in the locker room, and that’s what you’re really paying for, he’s the highest paid coach in the league. Watch your back, Joe. Moneywise, he got the Yankees $3 million a win this season? To put things in perspective, the disaster that was Carl Pavano, pitching in the same amount of games (17) in 2005, won 4 games and made $9 million. But, somehow, we love Roger and hated Pavano even then. The point is, for some reason, Roger can do no wrong and his bullshit seems to be lost on almost everyone. Make no mistake about it, with the Yankees still scrambling to figure out their plan for game 3, the Yankees mid-season desperation is still biting them in the ass.