Monday, May 07, 2007

Space Tourism Is Expensive

Things have come to a pretty pass when I find myself agreeing with Curt Schilling. Nevertheless, the Red Sox pitcher and spokesman-without-portfolio is correct-the Sox DON'T need Roger Clemens, not now anyway. And baseball teams, like the rest of us, have to function in the present tense.

"Need" is a relative term. All teams need more pitching in the sense quality pitching is both rare and fragile. That is to say, "need" is a synonym for "can use" in the preceding sentence. The Yankees, however "need" Clemens in the word's most exigent defintion, as in the sentence "human beings need oxygen." The fact New York signed Clemens is nothing more than the logic of the law of supply and demand at work. The Yanks had a miniscule supply of pitchers able to get batters out, therefore their demand for Clemens' services was "hang the expense as only we can." Clemens probably made a million bucks each time the Mariners scored in their 8-run inning against New York last Friday night.

Economics was one half of this transaction. The other was psychology-Clemens' psychology. Roger has never, ever, signed a new contract without demanding and getting the last possible dollar. That's not criticism. Why the hell should a professional athlete do anything else? By shrewdly creating his unique unretirement free agent market the last two Mays, Clemens has insured he'll be met by eager buyers whose pitching staffs have gone south in April. There's always at least one, usually more.

In 2006, the Astros were off to a bad start, and Clemens wounnd up re-enlisting in Houston. This April, the Yankees had the worst pitching New York has seen since the '62 Mets. Presto, Roger's a Yankee! This should come as no surprise to anyone who's ever met Clemens or read a "Wall Street Journal."

Most Bostonians know this. Those who don't should realize the following. Clemens COULD have been a Red Sox today. All it would've taken is for Schilling, Josh Beckett, and Tim Wakefield to be on disabled list. Then the Sox would've made the pre-emptive bid the Yanks turned in for Clemens. Would it be worth it?

P.S. Boston news media, get a grip! "Ballplayer DOESN'T sign with home team" is not lead broadcast item or front page news unless your market is a pathetic hick town, which we aren't. Playing upon the New York neurosis of the more thought-challenged natives of our fair city is unseemly. Also tedious.


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