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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Will Anti-Pettitte Backlash Affect Rocket's Decision? In a Word, Not at All

Andy Pettitte transformed from a Yankee postseason legend to a hometown hero overnight when the Deer Park native returned to Houston three seasons ago to pitch for the Astros. Just as quickly as he became a local hero, his reputation was just as immediately destroyed upon making public his decision to return to the New York Yankees for the 2007 season. One has a hard time ever being sympathetic to the modern-day athlete considering the exorbitant amount of money that he makes on average (or well above average for a star like Pettitte), but Pettitte consistently portrays himself as a humble, hard-working family man, so it is quite fair, one thinks, to give him a bit more sympathy than, say, this guy. His press clips following his signing with the Steinbrenners revealed a caring guy, who seemed to be truly torn by the consequences of his tough decision. I was honestly somewhat surprised by the immediate, violent backlash against Lefty around the city, as fans took out their anti-Yankee angst on Deer Park's finest, despite the often-outstanding pitching performances that he treated the fans to throughout three injury-plagued seasons, seasons which of course included the Astros' first-ever World Series berth in 2005, promising to never forgive him for turning his back on the Killer Bees in search of yet another endless pile of cash.

Knowing what Andy endured following his decision to move north in the spring, will his close friend Roger Clemens consider that in deciding for whom he shall pitch for the last few months of the 2007 season? Of course not. Sure, Roger signed a 10-year, $2 million personal services contract in 2004. Sure, the Astros seemingly did his family a favor by drafting his 18-year old son in the eighth round out of high school, a prospect who is currently toiling rather unsuccessfully in the bowels of the farm system. Sure, the Astros bent over backward to reward him with a customized travel schedule that considerably limited the amount of time that the Rocket spent away from home during the season. Sure, Roger's reputation in this city is nearly flawless to date - only Neil Frank or Jim McIngvale has more pull in H-Town than the Katy Rocket, and leaving for the Yankees solely upon his own discretion seems quite likely to significantly tarnish said reputation.

In the end, though, there are two constants when it comes to Roger Clemens: (1) excellence on the mound and (2) confident, if not arrogant selfish motivations. I, personally, will not begrudge the Rocket should he ultimately decide to wind up his career with the Bronx Bombers in 2007 and beyond. They will undoubtedly pay him more money, allow him to play in front of a broader national audience, re-unite him with Andy P and give him a better chance to make the postseason. In the end, Roger's history indicates that he will absolutely not concern himself with what the Houston fan base thinks, and maybe he shouldn't, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the local fans handle the Rocket once his decision is finally announced.


Blogger Bouj said...

I'd have some sympathy for Pettitte concerning the backlash he suffered if he hadn't said that God told him to go to NY. Whatever, Andy. Did God tell you to leave NY in the first place, or was that your wife telling to you leave NY because of your infidelity (allegedly)?

I love Rocket, but he is what he is: a mercenary who is about getting paid and winning. He REALLY likes attention. I don't begrudge him that because he never sold himself as a family man until the time came to come out of retirement in 2004 (and even then, the accommadations the Astros made for him didn't seem like that big of a deal since it was just a matter of staying behind on road trips). Even if Rocket decides to go to NY or even Boston, fine. Have at it. I'm not under the illusion that Clemens is something he is not (a civic hero), which the majority of the Houston fan base seems to think he is.

Having said all that, I get the sneaking suspicion that Roger will drag this out until May or June, say "no" for 2007, and listen as the NY and Boston media make up more "Clemens to return in August" rumors in July. I'm telling you, the vast majority of the "Clemens is going to NY/BOS"-stories from the last 18 months are the national and NY/BOS media making up rumors, allowing it to become a news story, and then taking the bait from Clemens and his agents, who are obviously throwing them a bone from time to time.

Thu Feb 08, 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger April said...

Have you seen/heard of the If I Ran blog? They're looking for an Astros blogger.

Mon Feb 26, 06:32:00 AM  

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