Clemens, the AL’s big weekend, Perfect games, no hitters, and one hitters galore, and much more from a big week in baseball.
On Monday afternoon the sad and embarrassing saga of Roger Clemens‘ perjury trial was put to an end. The “not guilty” verdict that was handed on down on all six counts brought against Clemens by the Federal Government. This verdict effectively ends Clemens’ legal battles regarding whether he did or did not use PED’s but the in the court of public opinion he will be tried for decades. To judge whether or not the Federal Government “wasted” millions in taxpayer money isn’t really appropriate. Federal Prosecutors have a job to do, and in an ideal world must bring charges against those who they feel have violated Federal Statutes. In what is now and forever will be known as the “steroid era”, it has become obvious to just about everyone that the use of PED’s was rampant and that some of the baseball’s all-time greats used these PED’s. Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Andy Pettite have all been linked to PED use. Whether or not these players are voted into the Hall Of Fame is a question that only time can answer. My feeling about whether or not these players will be voted into the Hall Of Fame is that eventually they all who deserve to be in the Hall Of Fame based on their numbers will be voted in. They’ll all be “punished” by the writers by not being voted into the Hall Of Fame in their first year of eligibility and possibly for as long as a decade. At some point though, I believe that the perspective that time will provide will soften the view on these players and their actions enough to allow their entry into Cooperstown. They’ll get their yearly visits to the gathering on the famed veranda at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown, where Chef Gregory will prepare them an incredible meal while they sip beverages looking out over Otsego Lake.
Nothing about this era, its criminal trials, apologies, or aftermath has been positive for the sport. Its causes can’t be traced to one specific event or person. Every player who used PED’s had his own reasons and rationalizations for doing so and to those who think that all or most of the violators have been named? I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I can sell you very cheap. It is normal and expected for people to want to blame someone or something for this era. Selig and the owners? Yes, it is very safe to assume that some of them had an idea about what was going on. The players themselves? Of course, They knew what they were doing to their bodies.
While many have stated that players were forced to do this to compete and keep up with those looking to take their jobs, it isn’t a good enough reason. Lets just make sure that we all take a look at ourselves before we assign that blame. While there were a scant few who hinted that perhaps all was not kosher with the increase in home runs, batting averages, and speed of fastballs in MLB during this era, most of us wanted to believe that this was legitimate. Most fans and writers looked the other way and suppressed that little voice in their head that was saying “this isn’t possible”. Did I know that it wasn’t logical that all of a sudden guys named McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds were suddenly supposed to possess so much power? Yes, I did. Did I know that most pitchers weren’t all of a sudden supposed to be humming fastballs in the mid to high 90′s? Yes, I did. Did I push these thoughts back deep into my mind? Yes, I did, and I don’t think I’m different from anyone else. Most of us loved the exciting power, action, and performances that this era provided us as fans and we didn’t protest or call these performances into question. It is my fervent belief that most people who express anger and outrage over what these players did are really just as angry at themselves for being taken in by this era.
Lets face it, this era was a blast when we were enjoying it at the time and very few of us wanted to find fault with it or examine what was staring us in the face. It wasn’t just the home runs, it wasn’t just the increased fastballs, it wasn’t just the incredible rise in batting averages that hooked us. Part of the incredible fun of this era were the extended production of stars and in some cases, like Clemens, the resurgences of such stars we thought were on the decline. It is always hard to watch a star player in any sport head downhill. For years, a baseball player could be expected to decline in his 30′s. This decline was usually exponential with every passing year after 30. When some of MLB’s stars actually started having career years in their 30′s and showed no signs of slowing, many of us wanted to believe that improved nutrition and training were the cause. A look at the back of many accused players baseball cards, in hindsight, can pinpoint when something strange began going on.
No one denies how incredibly good Clemens was from the very start of his career. At the end of 1992 season, when Clemens was 30, he already had 152 career wins. Clemens had already thrown 34 shutouts, 89 complete games, and had hung up 3 consecutive AL leading ERA’s of 1.93, 2,62, and 2.41. More incredibly? Clemens had hung up these statistics while pitching half of his games at Fenway Park!!! Clemens next four seasons with the Red Sox were typical to that time in history of a player who had passed the age of 30. From 1993-1996 Clemens began to show signs of wear and tear and compiled a record of 40-39 while throwing only 4 shutouts and 11 complete games. His ERA also elevated, passing 4 twice in those 4 years for the first time since his rookie season. The Red Sox let him walk at the end of his contract, and Clemens appeared to be on the serious downside of his marvelous career. What Clemens did after that is well-known. His incredible resurgence in 1997 and 1998 with the Blue Jays was followed by a stellar run with the Yankees and then the Astros. From 1997 to 2005, Clemens won more games at the ages of 34-43 then he did in the first 9 years of his career through his 30-year-old season. Clemens won 169 games between 1997 and 2005. In his 43-year-old season with the Astros, he finished with an ERA of 1.87! This was the greatest comeback since Lazarus. The question isn’t how could we have known. The real question is how could we not have known?
Not What They Used To Be?
It is June 19th and already this season in MLB there have been two perfect games thrown. Matt Cain‘s perfect game last week was only the 22nd perfect game thrown in MLB’s long history. Cain joined Phil Humber in the perfect game club, with Humber having pitched his way into history earlier this season. In addition to those two perfect games, Johan Santana and Jered Weaver have thrown no hitters along with six Mariners’ pitchers who combined to throw a no-hitter. Last night R.A. Dickey threw his second consecutive one hitter, something that hasn’t been done since Dave Stieb accomplished the feat for the Blue Jays in 1988. Is there a cause for these increased no hitters and perfect games? Or is it a random occurrence? Many have laid the cause of the increased no hitters in recent seasons solely at the feet of the end of the PED era. It is pretty obvious that batting averages and power have taken a slight hit since the PED era has ended. Take a look at these season ending stats leaders at the end of the 2007 season: The top 5 home run leaders in each league hit a combined total of 408 home runs. The top 5 RBI leaders in each league knocked in a combined total of 1291 RBI’s. The top 5 batting average leaders in each league hit from .363 down to .332. Now take a look at last year’s season ending leaders. The top 5 home run leaders combined for 376 home runs, the top 5 RBI leaders accounted for 1149 RBI’s and the 5 batting average leaders in each league ranged from .344 down to .309. While the end of the PED era may be a big contributing factor, it isn’t the only one. The men in blue and their tragic umpiring filled with night after night of mistakes and what looks like emotional involvement in games has aided the cause of pitchers in recent no hit bids. In Humber’s perfect game, umpire Brian Runge ruled that Brendan Ryan had failed to check his swing on what turned out to be the game ending pitch. Replays show that this call was incorrect. In Santana’s no-hitter, umpire Adrian Johnson blew a call that turned what would have been a double by Carlos Beltran into a foul ball.
In the Mariners’ 6 man combined no hitter, umpire Ted Barrett incorrectly ruled what would have been an infield single by Dee Gordon an out. It can be argued that with the proper calls being made, that only Weaver’s no hitter and Cain’s perfect game would be the only games in MLB this year in which one team was held hitless. That is right about what would be expected in this day and age. It is a little too early to say that the recent no hit bids are indicative of a totally new trend and can be expected to continue at this rate. Now, if only we could say the same thing about the recent umpiring which has plagued the game.
Interleague play ends this weekend, with the NL looking to reverse this past weekend’s fortunes. The AL really handed the NL its head the past weekend, with the AL East leading the way. On Saturday the AL won 10 of the 14 interleague games that were played. The AL followed that performance up on Sunday by going 11-3 to finish the weekend with a 21-7 mauling of the NL in interleague games.
The Al East went 9-1 this weekend, and 12-3 including Friday night’s games.
So far this season, the AL leads the NL 99-78 in interleague play. The Yankees and Angels lead interleague play in 2012 with 11-2 and 10-3 records respectively. The Rockies are at the bottom with a 1-11 record in interleague play this year.
If The Playoffs Started Today……
In the AL the Orioles would host the Rays in a one game playoff to determine who would face the Yankees in the next round.
The Rangers would have home field advantage against the White Sox in the other series.
In the NL the Giants would host the Mets in a one game playoff to determine who would face the Dodgers in the next round.
The Nationals would have home field advantage vs the Reds in the other series.
Tweet Of The Week
“He played a clown game bro” @FanSince09 after rookie star Bryce Harper went 0-7 including 5 strikeouts against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon.