Reflecting on the Rocket
This was good reading this morning: For those of you ready to push the panic button on May 6, ESPN.com Page 2’s Bill Byast has a reality check ready for you.
It occurs to me that 366 days have now passed since Roger Clemens stood up in George Steinbrenner’s owners box at Yankee Stadium, waved to the crowd and, over deafening cheers that far exceeded anything that happened in the game, told the fans that “it’s a privilege to be back, and I’ll be talking to y’all soon.”
It’s a pretty amazing coincidence that Darrell Rasner just happened to start another Sunday game against the Mariners at the Stadium in early May, and this time, Clemens kept his distance — obviously, a lot has changed in a year, and there’s no reason to go through the play-by-play. I can tell you that being there for Clemens’ Stadium return is still one of the most special moments I’ve been able to cover in person.
There had been weeks of speculation and the Yankees really pulled it off without a hitch — it’s still remarkable to me how they snuck Clemens in on a commercial jet, through the airport and on to the stadium without anyone finding out about it. When Bob Sheppard directed your attention to Steinbrenner’s box during the seventh-inning stretch, and the scoreboard read, “Roger Clemens is now a Yankee!”, I can remember my first thought. It’s not printable. My second thought was to get a story up as soon as possible.
What I recall of the Yankees clubhouse that afternoon was a sense of pure giddiness and excitement, with the media pumping the idea of Clemens as a savior and most of the team doing little to downplay it. I know the Yankees won, but I’m not sure anyone paid much attention to poor Rasner, under the radar again.
Derek Jeter, to his credit, reminded people that Clemens can only pitch once every five days. Having followed Clemens’ saga through the aborted ALDS Game 3 start and on through the Mitchell Report and in the hallways of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., May 6, 2007 seems so long ago.