Friday, January 21, 2005

Texas Hold 'Em

If you're in the Houston area, and you're selling pork rinds, Jimmy Dean Sausage, or Jock Strap Ben Gay (specially formulated for groin pulls), I suggest instituting an immediate 360 percent mark-up.

Trust me. The market will bear it.

Some of us had been beguiled by an apparently kinder, gentler, less bat-throwing Roger Clemens pitching at less than market value for his hometown team. One last hurrah to try and put an adored, veteran roster featuring Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio over the top.

I shouldn't have said "us" just then. I wasn't buying it.

I still remember November 1996, when Clemens claimed to be leaving Boston for Toronto because he thought "the Blue Jays had a better shot at the World Series." The 1997 Red Sox without Roger Clemens won 78 games. The 1997 Blue Jays with Roger Clemens won 76. He wasn't telling the truth in 1996, and all this "hometown" crap in Houston was at best a veneer for the Rocket's true motivation: the care and feeding of the outsized ego of Roger Clemens.

He wants to pitch another year? Fine. Just don't pretend, after trying to hold up the Mom and Pop store, that you're still chasing a ring. You want to bring a championship to the home folks, you don't try and sandbag the available funds for recruiting talented teammates with a 22 million dollar arbitration claim.

I concede that Clemens is the most successful pitcher of his generation. His longevity is a testament to a profound work ethic and something closely resembling competitive desire. But the past year, Clemens has been shooting for something more, a kind of fondness from the observers of the game that has eluded even his considerable achievements. He has attempted to make the claim that he's not just one of those guys, in it for the bucks. He's represented himself as one of those rare figures who just can't say no to a sport he loves.

Who knows? Given the same opportunity, I might well try to cash in as extravagantly as Clemens has. I hope, though, that I'd be sufficiently honest that I wouldn't give such a decision a loftier rationale than it deserves.


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