June 11, 2002
The Daily Prospectus
Shut Up, Already
I'm sick of the whole Roger Clemens thing. It's a non-story, inflated beyond that by a local media corps with the judgment and control of a four-year-old on his second box of Froot Loops. Yes, Clemens bounced a fastball off of the shoulder pad Bonds wears on his right arm. Bonds crowds the plate, crushes pitches out over it and sticks said well-protected arm into the strike zone. Where exactly would you have Clemens pitch him?
Prior to the matchup, Clemens made some semi-serious remarks about "introducing" himself to Bonds. So what? Look, there aren't a whole lot of ways to handle Bonds, and Clemens isn't the first person to get a catch a piece of hard plastic with an inside pitch. He didn't throw at Bonds's head and he didn't throw behind him. He hit him in the context of the game, while trying to get him out.
We've reached a point where the coverage of certain people, or certain events, is simply worthless because the media doesn't cover them with any discretion. Roger Clemens is one of those people. Clemens is being criticized for hitting Bonds when he pitched to him, and for not pitching to him (three walks) in Bonds's other plate appearances. You can't have it both ways; either Clemens was right to stay away from Bonds, rather than come inside, or Clemens was right to pitch to Bonds, and the hit-by-pitch was a natural byproduct of that decision.
Of course, that's not a real good story, so that doesn't get written. Better to drum up an entire controversy rather than deal with the actuality of pitching to one of the greatest batters who ever lived while he's on one of the greatest runs in the game's history.
What's worse is that we now have an MLB central office that takes its cue from the New York media. The Associated Press reports that the league office is looking into the matter, with the possibility that Clemens could be disciplined. Well, that makes sense; he wasn't ejected, and he wasn't warned until after Russ Ortiz threw a pitch up and in to Jason Giambi a half-inning later. If MLB takes any action here, they should be ashamed of themselves. This isn't a baseball issue; it's a selling-newspapers one.
(I suppose this isn't any worse than having a Congress that takes its cue from Sports Illustrated, but that's a rant for another day. Good to know that congressmen from North Dakota have lots of time on their hands. What, being part of a joke storyline on The West Wing wasn't enough?)
You know what the best argument for ending interleague play is? It'll stop the ridiculous coverage of interleague play. "Ooh, will Roger pitch at Shea Stadium?" "Roger is ducking the Mets, the big wuss!"
Baseball is a great game, and it's a shame that so many people miss that greatness while focusing on extraneous nonsense that has nothing to do with it.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.