Number 21, You Are Dead To Me

by Dan Mathers

I don’t hate Roger Clemens because he is a Yankee. I hate Roger Clemens because he is a liar.

He said he wanted to come back to the team with the best chance of winning a championship (lie). He said he was leaning 80-20 toward retirement (lie). He said the only reason he’d come back was if teammates really called and asked him to (lie). Back in 1996, he said he couldn’t see himself coming back through Fenway in another uniform, and the only other places he could see himself playing was Texas and Houston (lie). That year he also said he wanted to remain a Red Sox and it wouldn’t take a lot of money to keep him in Boston (lie). He probably also lied about asking out of Game 6 in 1986.

With Roger, it’s always been about one thing: Money. It was about money in 1997, and it is about money again this time around – regardless of what he says.

That’s why I hate him. And that’s why I’m kind of relieved he isn’t coming to Boston. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to see him come back and be a dominant 4 or 5 man in the Sox rotation. If that happened, you could order those World Series tickets. But it would come at a price, an internal conflict. While I want what is best for the Sox to win, I’d still hate the guy, so I’d be cheering for him with mixed emotions. Now I don’t have to worry about that. I can just hate him and feel good about it.

He helps the Yankees. But he isn’t enough to carry them. Even with him, their rotation overall has a lot of questions. At their best, they still don’t quite match up with Schilling, Beckett and Matsuzaka. Even if they did, their middle relief will kill them in the end. And let’s face it, this isn’t the National League Central, which for the past three seasons had weak lineups top to bottom (even the Cardinals lineup was weak last regular season). There’s no way Clemens has an ERA under 4.00. It’s at least 4.20, maybe more. Worth $20 mill for a short season? Maybe for the Yankees. Hopefully it’s another Cashman debacle like signing Pavano, Jared Wright and Kevin Brown.

So it will be nice to cheer against him. My favorite Clemens memory is Game 3 in 1999 ALCS – Clemens getting lit up and getting booed by the fans so mercilessly that it made his wife cry. Hopefully we can even do better this year.

We were classy in 2003, and gave Clemens an ovation on his last trip to Fenway. Let’s not let that happen again. Let’s boo his **** all the way back to Texas. ****, when he comes back for the 25th Anniversary of the 1986 team, let’s boo him then too.

And can we finally put to rest any silly notion of retiring Number 21? It would be sacriligious now. Clemens is a Yankee, a villian, and a money-grubbing dirtbag. It is time to give Number 21 away. Give it to anyone, the bat boy, the equipment manager. It doesn’t matter now. But Sox Nation can never let Number 21 be retired as Clemens’ number now. Never.

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