LADY AT THE BAT: The Yankees: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Yankees: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

Late last night, more than 24 hours after his big announcement, Roger Clemens was still the top story in sports. The Carpetbagger From Katy's decision to return to the Yankees had fans, the media and even players putting in their two cents about the team's newest acquisition. When will this end? I'm so sick of it, but I guess I'd better get used to having that money-grabbing opportunist on my team.

Though I hate Clemens, listening to all the talk yesterday about his signing has left me compelled to say a few things in defense of the Yankees:

Former Yankee David Wells has come out against the "family clause" in Clemens' contract which allows him not to travel with the team if wishes not to: "I don't think I would ever do it because of the fact that I personally think it would disrespect the team and your teammates. You look at the other players. How are they going to respect you? What are they going to think if you're not pulling for the team? He continues, "That's not the Yankee way. The Yankees have changed."

According to Mike Francessa of WFAN's Mike & The Mad Dog, now that the Yankees have made this exception for Clemens, they'll start making it for other players. ("You did it for Rocket, why not me?") He feels Mariano Rivera should also ask for something similar, since he's the Yankee with the most seniority. He also believes that all the other rules the Yankees have will come crashing down, including the no facial hair rule (Johnny Damon will look like Jesus, again!) The Yankees won't be able to say they hold themselves to a higher standard anymore and, as a result, will lose the respect they have in baseball, and all of sports for that matter.

First of all, the Yankees decided in the off-season that they wanted to sign Clemens. The Yankee players knew the Yankees decided in the off-season that they wanted to sign Clemens. Robinson Cano gave up his number 22 at the start of Spring training because he knew the Yankees wanted to sign Clemens. The players were asked about the "family clause" in Spring training and they all said, way back then, that they had no problem with it. Veteran players on the team have been calling, emailing and text-messaging Clemens since then, trying to convince him to sign with the Yankees. I hardly think the players would feel disrepected if Clemens didn't want to go on certain road trips this season. It will in no way lead to facial hair and loss of respect in baseball. Also, I'm sure that, if Wells were presented with the same deal, he would gladly take it.

Second, starting pitchers are the only players who could have the kind of "family clause" Clemens has. Relievers and position players have to be available everyday. Besides that, the other Yankee starters don't have the clout Clemens has. Wang is only in his second full season. Pettitte isn't a hall-of-famer (plus, he had no problem with the clause when he and Clemens were both in Houston), and neither is Mussina. The three of them would look foolish asking for anything like that.

Third, the Yankees aren't the first team to give Clemens this clause. No one was in this much of an uproar when the Astros did it. (The Red Sox were also willing to do it, by the way.) The Yankees are only doing what other teams did and are willing to do to sign Clemens. Yet, they get criticized for it. If they didn't do it they'd get criticized for holding themselves to a higher standard. It doesn't just pertain to Clemens, either. If they end up winning the World Series this year, they'll get criticized for having "bought" the championship. If they don't win it, they'll get criticized for having a $200 million payroll and not winning the Series (or not even making the playoffs).

The Yankees: damned if they do and damned if they don't.

The Lady

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