Good Move, Rocket Roger
Roger Clemens created a lot of hullabaloo with his recent trade to the New York Yankees from the Toronto Blue Jays.
New Yorkers blasted the trade of Clemens for David Wells because Wells was the prototypical New Yorker--brash, crass and with a large ass.
That's not to mention that he could pitch a pretty good nine.
Beantowners took the trade as a sign from above that the Curse of the Bambino had tightened its grip around its beloved Red Sox. "I shall have your Roger Clemens pitch for the Yankees!" the ghost of Babe Ruth bellowed from above (or from below for BoSox fans) last week.
Toronto? Who cares about a Canadian opinion?
But what fails to be recognized by anyone is that Clemens made an intelligent move to the Bronx.
He assured himself a seat at the table of sports legends simply by donning pinstripes.
While they are already clearing a place for him in Cooperstown, Clemens could not be considered to be legend-bound before last week.
Legends come in Yankee uniforms. Ruth. Gehrig. DiMaggio. Mantle. All Yankees.
No other team in any sport has had so prolific a history as the New York Yankees.
The Packers in football? There were some lean years in the 80s.
The Lakers, Celtics or Bulls in basketball? Forget about the Bulls--who was there before number 23?
The Lakers and the Celtics have had wonderful dynasties, but they are in a sport often deemed inferior to the national pastime. Plus, the current Celtics can't buy a game and the Lakers have turned "Showtime" into "Show me the money."
Hockey? Who cares about a Canadian sport?
But the simple fact of the matter is that the South Bronx is the place to be. Whenever someone hearkens back to the halcyon days of sport, inevitably a Yankee name comes up in the conversation.
While non-Yankee Mark McGwire was chasing the homerun record last summer, Roger Maris' name kept popping up as the Yankee to beat.
Maris was the Yankee that got no respect. The 61-homerun man was not chosen for the Hall of Fame, one of the biggest Cooperstown controversies in history.
The person with the record before Maris? Ruth.
McGwire will be a legend the hard way--by beating two Yankees.
The Yankees are the benchmark of excellence in baseball, whether we talk of a team or of individuals.
There is no dynasty like the Yankee dynasty. There is no superstar like Babe Ruth. There is no hitter like Joe DiMaggio.
Some say that Clemens is already a legend, that he doesn't need the "NY" emblem on his cap to boost his elite status in the annals of baseball history.
But the boost certainly doesn't hurt.
This year, Clemens could likely get that elusive World Series ring--one he couldn't get his hands on while in Boston and definitely not in Toronto.
Michael Jordan was just another tongue-waggin' basketball superstar before his first title.
John Elway was a just another great quarterback until he won two Super Bowls.
Roger Clemens will just be another five-time Cy Young award winners until he wins a World Series championship. Okay, so he will be the only five-time Cy Young champion, but he still will have failed to win the ultimate prize.
So what about the man who gets lost in all of this?
Even though he cried when Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and Yankee coach Joe Torre told him about the trade to Toronto, don't be shedding any tears for David Wells.
Wells will be a legend, too. The man who won a perfect game and the hearts of Yankee fans will be remembered for-ever. The I'm-just-a-regular-guy pitcher also got to wear Yankee pinstripes on his paunchy frame.
Would he have been a legend if he had been pitching for Pittsburgh?
Wells has had his chance in the Yankee spotlight; it's now the Rocket's chance to shine.