Bone Daddy has known Roger Clemens for nearly 36 years now….as he began following this incredible baseball pitcher’s career while he was pitching for the University of Texas Longhorns….as “Rocket Roger” had begun his college career by pitching for San Jacinto College North in 1981….where he posted a 9–2 record….causing the New York Mets to select Clemens in the 12th round of the 1981 Major League Baseball draft,…but he chose not sign….but instead choosing to pitch for the Texas Longhorns….where he compiled a 25–7 record in two All-American seasons….and was on the mound when the Longhorns won the 1983 College World Series….as he became the first player to have his baseball uniform number retired at The University of Texas.At Texas, Clemens pitched 35 consecutive scoreless innings….a NCAA record that stood until Justin Pope broke it in 2001…and in 2004, the Rotary Smith Award which had been given to America’s best college baseball player….was changed to the Roger Clemens Award, honoring the best pitcher….so, this “cat” is near and dear to this lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile’s heart.
As is the trouble with many of the greatest athletes of all time….controversy seemed to be the Rocket’s bedmate….for he has been the focal point of several controversies throughout his career….as his reputation has always been that of a pitcher unafraid to throw close to batters….known as “bow-tie pitches”….for although Clemens led his league in hit batsmen only once (1995)….but he has been among the leaders in several other seasons. This tendency was more pronounced during his earlier career and subsequently tapered off in later years….but still, Clemens’ reputation precedes him….for after the 2000 ALCS game against the Seattle Mariners where he knocked down future teammate Alex Rodriguez and then argued with him,…as Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella called Clemens a “headhunter.” His beaning earlier that year of Mike Piazza….followed by his notorious broken-bat throw at Piazza in the 2000 World Series….simply cemented Clemens’ surly, unapologetic image in the minds of many. In 2009, former manager Cito Gaston publicly denounced Clemens as a “double-talker” and “a complete asshole”. Clemens was ranked 9th all-time in hit batsmen after the 2007 season.
Roger Clemens has attracted controversy over the years for his outspoken comments….such as his complaints about having to carry his own luggage through an airport….and for his criticism of Fenway Park for being a subpar facility.On April 4, 2006, Clemens made an insulting remark when asked about the devotion of Japanese and South Korean fans during the World Baseball Classic: “None of the dry cleaners were open, they were all at the game between Japan and Korea“. Toward the end of his career, his annual on-and-off “retirements” revived a reputation for diva-like behavior.
Clemens has received criticism for receiving special treatment from the teams that sign him. While playing for Houston, Clemens was not obliged to travel with the team on road trips if he was not pitching. His 2007 contract with the New York Yankees had a “family plan” clause that stipulated that he not be required to go on road trips in which he was not scheduled to pitch and allowed him to leave the team between starts to be with his family. These perks were publicly criticized by Yankee reliever Kyle Farnsworth….but most of Clemens’ teammates, however, did not complain of such perks because of Clemens’ success on the mound and valuable presence in the clubhouse…..as Yankee teammate Jason Giambi spoke for such players when he said, “I’d carry his bags for him, just as long as he is on the mound.”
Then there was the steroids controversy of which he was heavily targeted as being a player who used steroids….but much like Giants legendary Barry Bonds….nothing has ever been proven….which sheds some light on the possibility that Roger Clemens will end up where he belongs….in the Baseball Hall of Fame….for any pitcher who pitched for 23+ years while registering 354 wins and 4,642 strikeouts in his career…..certainly deserve as seat in the Hall.
Regardless, this video shows just how dominate Roger Clemens was as a pitcher….for 99% of the pitchers to ever pitch in the major leagues doesn’t even know how to spell 20 strikeouts in 9 innings.