Roger Clemens is the Boston Red Sox’s career leader in strikeouts and tied for first in wins and shutouts. He very well might be the greatest pitcher in franchise history.
In that sense, WEEI calling on Clemens as a substitute broadcaster for a June 16 game against the Houston Astros makes total sense. Clemens still lives in Texas and pitched three seasons for the Astros as well as his 13 with the Red Sox.
It’s just — Red Sox fans, the ones who likely will be listening to that broadcast, they’re not the biggest Clemens fans. In an article headlined “Should Red Sox fans forgive Roger Clemens? Um, are you from around here?” The Boston Globe‘s Chad Finn explains the roots of the Clemens disdain and why it still exists:
But did he have to be such a tactless dope about … geez, everything? Like signing with Toronto for the most money when he said he’d leave only for his home state of Texas (to be fair, there’s a decent chance he thought they bordered each other) … or negotiating language into that contract that allowed him to ask out after two years, then manipulatively bandwagon-hopping on the Yankees’ juggernaut … or joining southpaw pantload David Wells in rubbing Babe Ruth’s monument – and rubbing it in – after Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, the pinnacle of the Yankees’ dominance of the rivalry and the low point for many Red Sox fans who had once rooted for him … or leading Larry Lucchino and the Red Sox to believe he’d come back during the 2007 season, only to, oh my goodness gracious, show up in George Steinbrenner’s box and rejoin the Yankees.
I know, we should be over it, all of it. The previous paragraphs don’t exactly serve as confirmation, but believe me, we are. The three championships since 2004 changed everything, which is why the ’86 team is now celebrated rather than lamented. Hell, we forgave Boggs for riding a bleepin’ police horse around Yankee Stadium after the Yankees won it all in 1996; we’d buy him all the Miller Lights he could guzzle if we ran into him at a bar or on a plane nowadays.
Clemens, incapable of candor and sometimes seeming incapable of honesty, is a different case. Unlike Boggs, who always seemed bothered by the separation from Boston, he never gave a damn about the Red Sox unless he needed them. He needs them now. On pure accomplishment, he’d have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer, perhaps someone who challenged for the highest vote percentage ever. Instead, because of the stench of his association with performance-enhancing drugs, he’s four years into his candidacy and on the outside looking in, with a high of 45.2 percent of the vote this year.
Things have gone so well for the Red Sox since Clemens departed after 1996: three championships, consistent success, inarguably the best 20-year run in franchise history. But that doesn’t mean they were going to forgive him for winning two World Series rings before his old team took down one in the modern era. Remember when he was booed just for daring to be seen on the scoreboard at Fenway Park?
Here’s a sampling of the feedback WEEI has received on Twitter:
The ultimate power move now would be Clemens showing up to the booth in his Yankees championship rings.