Rocket Propulsion

         “Big Joe, if it starts getting late here and things don’t improve, you say the word and I will yank these kids out of this stadium so fast their Met jerseys will still be sitting in the seats without them.”  I was calling him from Shea in the fourth inning on Friday night.  He thought that was a bit drastic.  And he was probably more tuned into the repercussions that that would have had with the women of the family, most notably my mother-in-law.  As it is she doesn’t like any talk about the missus’ little cousins, her nephews and niece, being notorious, indisputable mushes.  But as I sat near the left field foul pole on Friday night with Louis, Andrew, Charles, and Vanessa, and the Mets fell deeper into their hole, I was ready to do whatever was called for.  And I knew that if it was the Yankees, and there were mushes in the house, I would need them gone.  “Let’s hope something good happens,” was all he said.  Later, as we were walking out of the Stadium, eight year old Vanessa summed it up.  “I feel guilty that they lost,” she said, soliciting a sympathetic look from the missus.  “Me too,” I muttered to myself, well out of earshot of the missus (and Vanessa, of course), “For bringing you….”

          I have no words for what happened to the Mets.  The BPS was adamant last year that the Mets needed to make that Milledge-for-Zito deal.  They were so sorely lacking solid starters this year that it was unconscionable not to make at least some sort of move.  Oliver Perez is a serviceable starter, a guy in his prime who has pitched his share of games in this league.  But other than him, you’re either drastically old or drastically inexperienced.  I love the Duke, but he’s 96.  Glavine is 78.  And Pedro is only 34 but his arm and his shoulder are 55.  John Maine had pitched in exactly 27 games total before the start of this season.  Bad formula.  There was desperately little attention paid to the pitching staff by the front office starting from the last game of the NLCS up until now.  And they paid for it.  “Maybe Omar Minaya couldn’t find any Spanish starters available,” said many radio callers bitingly over the last few weeks.

        So speaking of the Mets, their number one fan, Mike Lupica, was ready to talk about them today in the Daily News.  He had this to say about this historic Met situation:  “[Pedro Martinez] is 3-1.  He has started 13 fewer games than Roger Clemens and still has half as many wins.”  He also went on to say this about the Mets: “Say it again: The Yankees better win the World Series and Family Guy Clemens better have a hand in doing that, or the pro-rated $28 million salary is as big a waste of money as Kei Igawa…Oh yeah, he better give them a bang for their buck in October.”  Hmmm.  Mike, you probably like to think of yourself as an objective sports reporter.  Maybe not.  I don’t really know.  But I do know that you write your column like it’s an anti-Yankee blog.  A particularly bitter, spiteful anti-Yankee blog.  And you know what, I’m not going to get into the columns upon columns that you wrote earlier in the season crushing the Yankees and lionizing the Mets.  I’ll let those stand for themselves.  And I’ll give you a pass on the fact that the Mets, for better or worse, did something notable in the history of New York baseball over the last three weeks, and yet you thought it was relevant to bring up Kei Igawa.  Fine.  I won’t get into that stuff because I understand that you are a silly little man, a whiny, Yankee-hating Met fan if there ever was one.  But what I will do is defend the Roger Clemens signing, because if you get the Yankees, and you understand that the Yankee rise from the dead this year was almost as unlikely as the Met collapse, you’ll understand the role that Clemens played.  I said back in May that I had a different take on this Yankee team than I did on the ’05 team.  I felt that the ’05 team had just suffered an unprecedented run of bad luck early on.  The numbers did not reflect a team that should have been 11-19, which is what they were.  This year, I had the same feeling, but I also said that I wasn’t sure that they had the right pieces to the puzzle.  Maybe it was the lessons of ’05 talking, as that run was precipitated by monster performances from Aaron Small, Chien-Ming Wang, Robbie Cano, and Shawn Chacon.  This year the “newness” spark was provided by Melky playing everyday, a solid performance from Andy Phillips, by the “Wiz Kids” of the pitching staff, as the Post dubbed them in the caption to the picture of them in their Wizard of Oz gear last week, and by Roger Clemens.  Clemens was huge.  Okay, he won six games.  True.  So take those six out of the Yankees win column and what are they doing right now?  Getting ready to watch the playoffs, most likely.  And that doesn’t scratch the surface of what he gave you this year.  In four starts in which he gave up 2 runs or fewer in six innings or more of innings pitched, he got two no-decisions in games the Yankees later won, including that tremendous performance in Fenway, a hard-luck loss against the Mets, and a heart-breaking ND in that Angel game that was lost in extra innings.  And the stability he gave the rotation was crucial.  His locker was right next to Joba’s, and he would hold court with Joba and Phil Hughes regularly, the same way Alex Rodriguez would with Melky and Cano.  He made the Yankees tougher.  Allie still talks about the game in Toronto in which he got plunked by the adolescent Blue Jays for a months-earlier incident, and how Clemens stepped up and started throwing retaliatory fireballs back at them, shutting them up for the rest of the game (and the season, as it turned out), subsequently taking the suspension and fine without a peep.  Allie hasn’t forgotten.  The Yankees haven’t forgotten.  This is what Roger Clemens gave you.  Not worth $28 million?  Out of the overflowing Yankee bank account?  That’s insane.  The Yankees paid $28 million and made the playoffs.  And you know what else?  If the Mets had gotten him, they would be readying him for his post-season start right now.  Disagree, Mike?    

        I was informed by Big Joe’s buddy Charlie Mule tonight that he is now officially behind the Yanks all the way.  Devastated by his Mets, but not willing to root against the New York logo.  Now that’s what I call a New Yorker.  Regardless of where he might be hanging his hat these days…

         The playoffs are here.  Lots to talk about before we start, and plenty of time to do it, as the Yanks don’t get started until Thursday.  I’ll kick things off tomorrow…




    -“[Pedro Martinez] is 3-1. He has started 13 fewer games than Roger Clemens and still has half as many wins.” He also went on to say this about the Mets: “Say it again: The Yankees better win the World Series and Family Guy Clemens better have a hand in doing that, or the pro-rated $28 million salary is as big a waste of money as Kei Igawa…Oh yeah, he better give them a bang for their buck in October.”-

    Man it’s great to be a Yankee fan isn’t it?

    Quick, someone tell Lupica that Bobby Bonilla once had more hits in a season than Mel Hall.

    Someone that good at writing comedy needs to come back from the ledge and teach us all how to love.

  2. joseph

    I believe Clemens probably gave that Yankee team a slight lift, however, and this is surprising to me also, a commenter on an ESPN blog posted this info first.

    Yankees 1st half ERA 4.33

    2nd half ERA 4.66

    However, the split is the first half being 86 games and the second half being 75 games.

    With that said, the Yankees scored 494 runs in the second half compared to only 464 in the first half. That is 5.4 runs per game in the first half and 6.59 (which is ridiculous) in the second half.

    So Clemens must have had a great effect on some of those bats too. Abreu, Cano, and Damon mostly. So what I am getting at is, as the commenter pointed out also, Abreu has been a star for a while, Damon too. Cano batted .340 last season. Those guys would have come around anyway, and I know you agree on that, because you always mention about how players will begin to go back to the mean.

    And I do believe that Clemens helped stabilize the rotation, but other guys could have done that, league average pitchers could have done that. It was just that Clemens was the only one available. But I think that because he is Clemens, it looks that way.

  3. joseph

    Oh, and McNabb was sacked 12 times last night. Granted, they didn’t have William Thomas, Brian Westbrook, LJ Smith, not to mention, Brian Dawkins, Lito Sheppard. For once, I can say I don’t place too much blame on McNabb last night, unlike the first two games of the year. But the loss still ******. Just thought that I would talk football for no apparent reason.


    I think the main point about the Rocket signing is that 20 mil or whatever the yankees paid him is well worth it. Not only did he provide solid pitching, he saved the young guns in the farm system from being traded. I don’t think you can put a price tag on that.

  5. joseph

    Thats fine, but Clemens’ intangibles seem to be the savior to many. And while I think they helped a little, they are being praised a little too much in my opinion. Could Jon Lieber healthy, Tim Wakefield, guys around league average, have done the same thing had they been available the same way Clemens was?


    anyone who would argue that what we got from the rocket wasn’t worth the money just doesn’t have a feel for this team.

    some cricket news:

    ONE-DAY SERIES, Dambulla:

    Sri Lanka 269-7 (50 overs) v England 87-4 (22 overs)

    Farveez Maharoof took three wickets, including star batsman Kevin Pietersen, as England limped to 73-4, chasing Sri Lanka’s 269-7 in the first one-dayer.

    good point Saif !!


    Joe: I see your point. I think it’s safe to say that any veteran pitcher would have given the Yankees just as much as the Rocket, in terms of actual pitching and saving the arms in the minors. The intangibles? They’re intangible, you can’t argue those, for or against. That being said, I honestly doubt that a pitching coach like Gator needs ANY help imparting knowledge to young pitchers.
    Mike: You follow cricket? How did that come about? I grew up in Pakistan, cricket was my sport. Small world!

  8. Jason

    On the points about the Clemens signing and his tangible and intangible worth, I’ll say that the money was well worth his coming to the Yankees, and that his $28 million was prorated for the time that he was with the Yankees. It ended up being several million less–still a huge chunk without a doubt. I think Geoff is right about the six wins and Clemens pitching well generally–and while hurt, I might add, as his brilliant performance in Boston showed even though he didn’t get the win.

    On his intangibles, I would actually argue that you CAN argue about intangibles for and against. Because they are intangibles and not quantifiable contributions does not mean they cannot be assessed, just that we can debate them. But a good sign of Clemens’s intangibles, his sheer gravitas, look no further than his influence on young pitchers such as Joba and Hughes. Joba’s locker was not next to Clemens’s by accident. Clemens also spent considerable time with them talking about pitching, conditioning and overall approaches to the game–all enormously important insights to instill yet cannot be measured. But that Joba and Hughes not only acknowledged spending so much time with Clemens, but also freely discussed being impressed with him, his openness, and his work ethic at his age illustrates the importance of those intangibles he brought. We cannot know whether or not Mussina, Pettite, and others would have had the same effect, or instilled the same ideas and values in Clemens’s absence–likely, but we don’t know. But we can see as fans what Clemens did bring, and it went well beyond the six wins that Mets fan Lupica minimizes. Take your chosen professions, or better yet family and friends in your life you look up to, whose words you really treasure and make your day, and think about what it means when they sit and talk with you, reassure you, push you to achieve, and educate you about approaches to your career, your family, your livelihood, and your life. Those words and counsel go well beyond feeling good, but feeling confident that you can approach life with a positive mindset, handle fears and concerns and bounce back strong. Those things can mean the world to young players, heck, to people. They do from people I admire. Joba and Hughes have acknowledged such conversations with Clemens, and I can’t think for a second that they haven’t translated into shaping and reinforcing the confidence and abilities those young pitchers have shown.

    Clemens was easily worth the money, and his influence has probably been more profound than the 18 starts he made and the time he’s spent with the team this year.


    I’m with happymeds joe….being a sox fan is bad enough….then you go and throw the eagles in there… accounting for bad taste stats man


    Mr. BPS called it

    read it and weep….

    Game 1 at Cleveland on Thursday: 6:30 p.m.

    Game 2 at Cleveland on Friday: 5 p.m.

    Game 3 at New York on Sunday: 6:30 p.m.

    Game 4 at New York on Monday: 6 p.m.

    Game 5 at Cleveland on Oct. 10: 5 p.m.

    Great, more “poor Cubbies ****” we all have to endure I’m sure.

    Maybe if we are good girls and boys we can listen to Fenway chant in primetime!

    No thanks, I guess I’m watching quality shows like “According to Jim Belushi”

  11. Jason

    Thanks for posting the time, Happymeds. Both teams will have some unusual twilight issues to deal with.

    I hear you, Happymeds. “According to Jim” is as edifying as “Yes, Dear.”


    Agreed, yet with my job I am going to miss chunks here and there of games. Friday I am driving to a concert around the time of the game. I guess it is a good thing I have XM. It’s gotta blow for those Yankee fans on the west coast with 9-5 jobs.


    He is/was my former boss ts. We both moved on to other jobs. Through a friend I got his email. Anyway for those who care here is what I wrote. Keep in mind I never ran my mouth to him about anything sports until HE said something to me.

    Anyway, here it is…short and sweet:

    Hi there, remember me?

    I certainly would have loved to be the one to purchase the bagels this time, but as fate would have it we no longer work together.

    Anyway……just wanted to drop a line saying hello (and more importantly) leave you with a bit of advice……karma’s a b*tch

    enjoy your day

    I haven’t heard a thing from him. I’m sure if the Yanks lose I will. Then I’ll just right click on his name and hit “block sender” and never have to hear from him ever again.

  14. Jason

    That was short and sweet, Happymeds. The thing is with people like that, typically anyway, they overlook their own transgressions and roles in starting up such difficulties, and only remember what others said to them. That way, they can always be the victims. Maybe, if this person got the e-mail, he could read it, have one of those moments where his mind’s eye goes back in an instant, and sees the first time he was an idiot to you about the Yankees. If not, he still got an in-your-face from you. Either way, you win.

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