Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Keith Olbermann's blog on msnbc.com

Recommended Posts

Keith Olbermann's blog on MSNBC



The Case against Roger Clemens  (Keith Olbermann)




NEW YORK - Roger Clemens is Day-to-Day.


We’re all Day-to-Day. Certainly the Astros are.


I apologize - in making my World Series forecast (White Sox, possibly in a sweep, and it seems to me I mentioned how Phil Garner should’ve used Brad Lidge in the last game against the Cardinals and not waited to see if he’d give up another game-losing homer in his next appearance, in the Series) - I forgot to mention here what I believe I noted on the radio or at least an interview or two, namely the ultimate effect of the Albert Pujols home run - that it would force Roy Oswalt to pitch again in the series against St. Louis and force the Astros to instead open with Clemens in Chicago.


That was particularly relevant because, as I did predict elsewhere, it meant that something would cause Roger Clemens to bail out of Game One.


You protest, in controlled agony. “Roger Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers of all time!” I giggle. “He is 12-and-7 lifetime in the post-season.” I laugh. “He is undefeated over the course of six different World Series!” I do a spit-take.


Saturday’s “hamstring pull” and the resultant exit after 54 pitches should’ve been predictable to the degree that the odds among the exotic wagerers of Vegas should not have exceeded 3:1 against.


Here is the nasty truth. After Saturday night, Roger Clemens has now made 33 post-season starts in the last two decades (an admittedly remarkable achievement). His team has lost 17 of them.


In the post-season, he is a sub-.500 starter.


To be fair, Saturday’s loss only brought his team’s record with him pitching down to .500 (4-4).


But behind the simple numbers, he has an unfortunate resume of either coughing up leads his mates have given him (eight different games so far - in one of which in 2002 he blew three separate leads), or getting out of the game prematurely or controversially, or all of the above. If the Astros live to a Game Five and Clemens is healthy, they should just say “no, thanks.”


Let’s start by acknowledging that you didn’t imagine his occasional brilliance in the post-season. The Rocket pitched a five-hit 3-0 shutout into the 9th in his first short-rest start ever (against the Angels in Game Four of the 1986 ALCS, then he and Calvin Schiraldi blew it). He pitched seven particularly fine post-season games for the Yankees (most notably the 1999 World Series clincher, just two days after a shouting match with a fan outside the players’ entrance at Yankee Stadium, and his 15-strikeout and 9-strikeout performances against the Mariners and Mets in 2000). And the relief effort against the Braves in this year’s Division Series - though it is of course not considered one of his starts - was an impressive three-inning performance.


On the other hand, though the quick exit, stage right against the White Sox was quick, it was hardly atypical. How many “great” pitchers carry the baggage of six controversies or injuries?


1. 1990 ALCS Game Four at Oakland. The A’s have already scored a run off him in the 2nd inning when Clemens puts two men on - the second, by walking Willie Randolph. He then begins to shout loudly. “I thought Roger was swearing at me,” said A’s batter Mike Gallego. In fact, he’s swearing at home plate umpire Terry Cooney - and if his post-game denial that he remembers any of it is correct, he may be doing so in a trance-like state. Cooney ejects Clemens, who makes contact with at least two other umpires during the subsequent argument. The A’s score both runners, the Red Sox lose 3-1 and are swept.


2. 1999 ALCS Game Two at Boston. Red Sox fans - mistakenly believing Clemens jilted them to go to Toronto as a free agent when the move was largely the fault of Boston management - serenade the now-Yankee with a sing-song of “Rahh-jer, Rahh-jer.” Rahjer gives up five in the 1st (I was there, and I still don’t believe I saw Jose Offerman triple off him, and John Valentin homer off him), and lasts only through the first batter of the third inning. The Yankees lose 13-1 (their only post-season loss that year). I was the dugout reporter during that game and none of my Yankee contacts would say a thing about why Clemens came out, until, in the seventh inning, David Cone finally explains: “he said he had bad back.” To this point, the record of Clemens’ team in his eleven post-season starts is 3-and-8.


3. 2000 World Series Game Two at Yankee Stadium. Clemens is stunning - striking out nine Mets and giving them just two hits over eight innings. But if it had been Terry Cooney umpiring the plate and not Charlie Relaford (or as Clemens would quaintly call him, afterwards, “Umpire Charlie”), Clemens could’ve easily been ejected again - early. This is the game in which he throws the piece of Mike Piazza’s shattered bat more or less in Piazza’s general direction. Again I’m the Yankee dugout reporter for this game, and coach Lee Mazzilli offers the following explanation for the incident: “I can’t even imagine why he did that.”


4. 2001 ALDS Game One at Yankee Stadium. Clemens gives up solo runs to Oakland in the1st and 4th. Pitching to the first hitter in 5th, he begins twitching. Joe Torre comes to the mound. Clemens, it turns out, has pulled a hamstring. Yanks lose 5-3.


5. 2003 ALCS Game Seven at New York. Clemens is battered by the Red Sox for six hits and four runs in three innings, leaves the most important game of the season down 4-0. The crash will be obscured by the unlikely relief pitching of Mike Mussina and the even more-unlikely pennant-winning home run of Bret Boone.


6. 2005 World Series Game One at Chicago. Clemens has no control, is lucky to give up just three runs and four hits in his 54-pitch labor over two innings. He walks easily off the field after the second inning, but when he reaches the dugout steps, he begins to limp spectacularly. He has pulled another hamstring.


And just so you don’t think I’m making that stat up - eight blown leads - here they are, too. This is, in short, not Christy Mathewson or Bob Gibson. This is a guy with a post-season record slightly less impressive than that of his journeyman teammate Russ Springer.


1. 1986 World Series Game Six at New York. The Red Sox give him a 2-0 lead, but Clemens gives it back. Boston scores again, and he leaves after seven, leading ahead 3-2. Then Schiraldi, Bob Stanley, and Bill Buckner happen.


2. 1988 ALCS Game Two at Boston. Given another 2-0 lead, Clemens surrenders a two-run homer by Jose Canseco and a Mark McGwire RBI in the 7th, and the Red Sox lose 4-3.


3. 1995 ALDS Game One at Cleveland. Again, it’s 2-0 Boston, but the Indians, paced by an Albert Belle double, score three off him in 6th. After Clemens leaves, the Red Sox rally to tie, only to lose on Tony Pena’s homer in the 13th.


4. 2000 ALDS Game One at Oakland. Clemens is given another 2-0 lead by Yankees, gives it back in fifth. The A’s score their lead run on his wild pitch, and add another in the sixth. The Yanks lose 5-3.


5. 2002 ALDS Game One at New York. Against the Angels, Clemens blows a 1-0 lead, then a 3-1 lead, then a 4-3 lead. They have rallied to tie it again as he leaves after the 7th, and ultimately win without him, 8-5.


6. 2004 NLCS Game Seven at St. Louis. The Astros give Clemens another 2-0 lead. He gives one back in the third, then an RBI double to Pujols and a two-run homer to Scott Rolen in the 6th. The Cardinals eliminate the Astros 5-2.


7. 2005 NLDS Game Two at Atlanta. Clemens is given a 1-0 lead; gives up five earned in five including three-run homer to rookie Brian McCann. Astros lose 7-1.


8. 2005 NLCS Game Three at Houston. Clemens is given yet another 2-0 lead, gives it back. As he is pinch hit for in 6th, the Astros rally for two more and he gets credit for the 4-3 victory over St. Louis. His teams have now managed to win exactly half of his post-season starts - and two of the eight games in which he’s coughed up leads.


Comments?  E-mail: KOlbermann@msnbc.com


Dayum. :o :o :o


You decide, but this is pretty interesting.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

You pitch enough games and you will have enough results that any story could be written.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.