May 19, 2003

Clemens wants a Yankee cap when he goes to Cooperstown.: (NYTimes link) I can see the argument, but in my mind's eye, he'll always be wearing a Boston uniform. The player's preference is not controling, which surprised me: Gary Carter goes in this summer as an Expo, even though he asked to be recognized as a Met. Is Clemens a Yankee? Should Carter be a Met? Who else in in the Hall wearing a cap that seems wrong?

posted by outside counsel to baseball at 12:03 PM - 33 comments

username: spofi pw: sportsfilter

posted by jerseygirl at 12:56 PM on May 19, 2003

He'll be going for 299 on Wednesday against Wakefield. If he's successful Wednesday, he'll be going for 300 against Pedro Martinez on Monday which would be, easily game of the week... month! Naturally, I am hoping it doesn't get to that point and Wake's knuckleball stuns them this coming Wednesday. Clemens is a Yankee and should go in as one. Fine with me. We'll have Pedro in the Hall. Clemens still feels an affection for Boston. He expects to pitch at Fenway Park later this season - the Yankees make two more trips there - and he wants his wife and children in the stands for his final start in Boston. He... uh... may want to reconsider having them in the actual stands... People are going to recognize his wife from that Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread they did this year.

posted by jerseygirl at 01:21 PM on May 19, 2003

Wade Boggs to thread! The key factor here may be that the Red Sox organization has not shown a lot of class in recent years. See also making Jim Rice share his farewell day (at the bottom) with a journeyman...

posted by Mookieproof at 01:32 PM on May 19, 2003

The Harrington/Duquette regime was not especially noted for their class, you're spot on about that Mookie. There are a million stories/instances of it... most of it is pretty well documented and known, so I'll spare you the stories for the sake of time. I was saying that the last time my boyfriend and I were at Fenway..."We didn't know how bad we [fans] were treated until the new owners came in and showed us what first class is like." I guess the same can be said for the players, similarly.

posted by jerseygirl at 01:55 PM on May 19, 2003

O! Mookieproof I so wish you would not have brought up the Jim Rice fiasco. For those of you who think Griffey gets in the hall regardless of whether or not he ever plays another whole season, will he wear an M's cap or a Reds cap?

posted by vito90 at 02:48 PM on May 19, 2003

I wouldnt put griffey in if he retired today, but assuming he did go in, it'd be with an Ms cap, no question. He hasn't done a damn thing in Cincy except waste money while on the DL. In Seattle, he was productive and a big star. Clemens could go either way but obviously I'm pulling for him with the Yankees. He won what amounts to slightly more than half his games in Boston, but that's an awful lot won elsewhere. Plus he got his rings and his record setting Cy in NY, strikeout milestones, etc. In this case, I'd say its his call... same with Carter. While I'm all for seeing an Expos cap in the Hall, with guys like that it's their choice. Perhaps there might be a committee that would be on hand to negate decisions based on politics or some sort of feud (can't think of an example offhand, but say Star A plays 14 years of great ball with one team, but they release him against his wished, and he plays 2 more with another team, but sucks, but then wants to spite the first team cause he holds a grudge), but in cases of people who split somewhat evenly I think it should be up to them. I had never heard of the Jim Rice day thing untill now, and while it is sort of a joke to be sharing it with Bob Stanley, to actually decline it and raise a commotion sounds sort of selfish too. As does the shoving match with Joe Morgan.

posted by Bernreuther at 03:47 PM on May 19, 2003

sorry, ok, almost 2/3s. I didn't realize the total there was so high. Still, unless it's really extreme, I say let the player make the call. Though to be truthful, the hat on the plaque really shouldn't be such a big deal anyway...

posted by Bernreuther at 03:51 PM on May 19, 2003

off-topic argument Griffey makes the HOF with no problem whatsoever if he retires tomorrow. His sustained greatness in the 90s plus his current counting numbers guarantee he gets voted in. /off-topic argument Personally, I think Clemens should go in with a Blue Jay cap on because he had the best ratio of greatness/seasons-played when he was in Toronto: 2 seasons played 2 AL Cy Young Awards 2 AL Pitching Triple Crowns 2 20-win seasons His best back-to-back strikeout totals (563K) His best back-to-back ERA+ (comparison to league average) results His best single season won-lost % Check the numbers yourself. /tongue-in-cheek

posted by grum@work at 04:39 PM on May 19, 2003

He won what amounts to slightly more than half his games in Boston, but that's an awful lot won elsewhere. 192/ 298 = 64.4%. That said, he's a Yankee. He oughta go in with Jim McMahon's "This Space for Rent" headband. Harrington/ Duquette junta aside, how's Bob Stanley a "journeyman"?

posted by yerfatma at 05:25 PM on May 19, 2003

I'd like to write a SpoFi submitted column sometime (perhaps grum and I can co-write it in time for his 300th win) about whether or not Roger Clemens can lay a solid claim to the title of "greatest pitcher ever". I'm a tentative "yes"; I think he ultimately has no legitimate competition from any pitcher pre-1950, such as Walter Johnson or Cy Young, and his only contemporary competition might be Maddux and Johnson (Pedro doesn't have the current numbers, and I suspect lacks the legendary ox-like stamina, of Clemens). Whadya say, grum: howsabouta Point-Counterpoint (unless you agree)? jerseygirl: He... uh... may want to reconsider having them in the actual stands... People are going to recognize his wife from that Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread they did this year. Speaking of which, when is your layout due, jerseygirl? Y'know, I have no idea why I said that... it's just that I've picked up from vito90 and other's comments that sexual harassment of jg is pretty much... expected of the male members (ha! I said "members"!) of SpoFi. =)

posted by hincandenza at 05:44 PM on May 19, 2003

Yes, it's because I am not easily offended... and of course, on the rare chance I should be offended, I know I can simply call you out on being a memberhead and go about my day. :)

posted by jerseygirl at 06:24 PM on May 19, 2003

Oh, I'm game for a Point-Counterpoint thing about Clemens, even though I probably agree with you. I'd have to do some research about some pitchers (including the Big Train and the Big Unit) but I think I could come up with some arguments. My email is in my profile, so drop me a line.

posted by grum@work at 07:05 PM on May 19, 2003

ok, Hal baby, I gotta see it how does Clemens come up ahead of Walter Johnson? Lay it out for me!

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:12 PM on May 19, 2003

The Hall has to make the decision. Otherwise, players would choose the hat of whichever team made the best offer (see Gary Carter) or of the team he had the best memories of management (see Carlton Fisk). Or, worst case scenario: Pete Rose auctions off his hat choice. Carter primarily spoke out about the Mets because he was pissed at the Loria run Expos. At the end he agreed the Hall should make the choice. Let's face it, the Expos are where he got his start (and finished his career) and the team where he was made into a top catcher. He shouldn't have worn any other hat into the Hall.

posted by ?! at 08:33 PM on May 19, 2003

I'd rather the players make the choice, it them who are being honored, so they should choose.

posted by corpse at 09:09 PM on May 19, 2003

the Expos are where he got his start (and finished his career) and the team where he was made into a top catcher. He shouldn't have worn any other hat into the Hall. Damn straight. He also learned French so he could act in local TV ads, so there. Seriously, I would have been mad as hell if he'd gone in as a Met. Still mad that he suggested so himself. And, of course, forever mad that Pedro will be remembered as a Red Sox and not an Expo. Such is our fate. When was the last time you heard about our most famous trade? Still, this cap thing is creating a lot of trouble, and it will increase, as players are traded more often these days. Why not do away with the caps entirely? It's the individual who's honored, not the team he played for.

posted by qbert72 at 12:21 AM on May 20, 2003

While I'm the first to agree that athletes as a whole have evolved and thus any player today (Clemens) would dominate more than any player of yesteryear (say, um, Walter Johnson), I don't know if you can argue that Clemens beats him and a few others out. I've lost some of my memory of the early years of baseball but if you assume equal competition, I wouldn't say that Clemens is the best ever. He is, however, the best overall since 1950. Many might even disagree with that just because lately there have been (depending on who you ask) 3 to 5 pitchers who were even better and more dominant. But as far as longevity, power, greatness, etc, Clemens still has it locked up by a nose, though if Pedro figures out a way to be less fragile, and rattles off a string of 3-4 Cy Youngs (if he stays healthy, I bet he could), he could be right up there. That would be one hell of an interesting SpoFi article though. Anyway, I'm not totally coherent but basically, I wonder what basis you use for the statement that he has no legitimate competition from pre-50s pitchers... I think total package-wise I'd say just the opposite... that he hasn't had legitimate competition from anyone post-50s.

posted by Bernreuther at 01:12 AM on May 20, 2003

Well, I didn't even say I'd convinced myself- only that it would be an interesting case to make. I might find in trying to make it, that it's not even accurate. Perhaps, with his late-career surge, Randy Johnson has been better than Clemens. But I think I shall try to write an article, see which way things fall....

posted by hincandenza at 01:55 AM on May 20, 2003

I'd take a few pitchers over Clemons as the best ever. I don't know any of the stats off hand, but these are the folks I'd take in their prime if I wanted to win one game: Nolan Ryan, Satchel Paige, and Randy Johnson. Clemons would be in my top 5 though.

posted by corpse at 08:00 AM on May 20, 2003

yerfatma: Bob Stanley = journeyman as opposed to apprentice or master. corpse: Nolan lost nearly 300 games, so I'll pass. Satchel Paige unfortunately lacked a sufficient sample size. Randy Johnson, maybe. Too hard--a lot of pitchers had a couple "prime" years in which they were all but unhittable...

posted by Mookieproof at 10:31 AM on May 20, 2003

I understand the word. I just want to know how 115 wins and 132 saves qualifies as a "journeyman".

posted by yerfatma at 10:47 AM on May 20, 2003

Re: Nolan. Career record of 324-292. Started 773 games and had 222 complete games. K to Walk ratio better than 2:1. 7 no-hitters. 0 Cy Youngs. (career stats page) To dismiss him for having almost 300 losses is a bit of a disservice. Dude played for 27 years. It is worth noting though that he won 20+ games only twice, and 19 games twice. That doesn't match up well with a lot of pitchers. He's definitely one of the most dominating and powerful pitchers ever though (no disrespect to the Big Unit intended). I'm not a huge Ryan fan (the Dairy Queen commercials don't help the cause much) but I think he should at least be considered.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:20 AM on May 20, 2003

Cy Young lost 313 games. I agree with Ufez that you can't readily dismiss him because of the number of losses. a lot of pitchers had a couple "prime" years in which they were all but unhittable - Koufax had six years where he was unhittable. But in the discussion of greatest pitcher ever, he would be ruled out. Excellence for 12, 15, 18 years or more is required...

posted by vito90 at 11:26 AM on May 20, 2003

Exactly- what vito90 says. Pedro's had a couple of years that even Clemens couldn't touch- but Clemens was a 20 game winner in 3 different decades, a 6 time Cy Young winner, and soon to be only the 3rd person in the 400 win/3000 K club (2 wins, about 30+ K's, so he'll reach both this season). There are no doubt many ways to evaluate the greatness of a pitcher, but longevity of high quality pitching is clearly one of them (no different than HoF debates involving hitters, I suppose, which is why Jim Rice is basically never going to be in the Hall). Oh, and quite frankly, anyone who would seriously consider Ryan in the pantheon of best ever just doesn't "get it". Randy has a far, far better case than Nolan ever will, and is worth considering (more so since I've begun looking at more of the numbers).

posted by hincandenza at 11:37 AM on May 20, 2003

Nolan struck out a LOT of people. But his actual winning % and even ERA aren't as impressive as you'd expect them to be based on his fame. The question was who you'd want to pitch one game that you had to win. I wouldn't put Nolan Ryan anywhere near the top of that list. Not that I don't like the guy, but in a one game must win, I'll take Pedro or Randy, assuming we get them post-Expo...

posted by Bernreuther at 12:00 PM on May 20, 2003

Re: Stanley/journeyman (No offense about the definition thing, sorry.) He was, apart from a splendid 1978 season, essentially a .500 pitcher. He gave the Sox good innings for 13 years, and no doubt earned his own appreciation day as well. My point (and that of the anecdote) was that Stanley's contributions were lesser than Jim Rice's, that's all. And that the Boston organization for years treated players in a manner that would induce them to wear other hats in the Hall. Nolan is a stallion; I don't really hold the losses against him, I just wouldn't want him in a one-game-take-all situation. How about Koufax or Gibson?

posted by Mookieproof at 01:03 PM on May 20, 2003

Bob Gibson was the one person I was suprised to not see mentioned. I would second Hal's comment about Ryan though: he's not in the room for the discussion. Looking at Gibson (whom I never saw pitch; my admiration is directly related to my father's fear/ reverence of him) v. Clemens, it's not even really a contest. I'm using the career ERA+ (ERA adjusted for league ERA) as a benchmark because it's the quickest thing I can find. Gibson was 127% better than league average during his 17 year career. Clemens has been 142% better during a 19 year career that's not over yet. All the same, I'd take Gibson in a head-to-head game 7. For reference: Randy Johnson: 144% for 15 years Nolan: 112%/ 27 Cy Young: 138%/ 22 Maddux: 146%/ 17 Pedro: 171%/ 11 Walter Johnson: 146%/ 21 FWIW: Bill James feels Clemens is clearly the best ever. Dunno why exactly (and my copy of the Abstract is with my father). Sorry to be so protective of the Stanley Steamer. With the recent beachball traffic on Fenway's lawn, I miss him.

posted by yerfatma at 05:04 PM on May 20, 2003

Clemens will end pitching about 1000 innings as a Yankee, including none of his best 8 seasons (86, 87, 90, 91, 92, 94, 97, 98 - the years where he had under a 3 ERA. His best year with the Yankees was actually his first, 1999; his Cy in 2000 was for a lesser year). He threw about 2500 innings as a Red Sox. I can't see the Hall letting him go in with anything but a Boston cap. As others have noted, Ryan lasted for a long time, but he doesn't belong in a discussion of the truly elite. Seaver was the best pitcher of that generation, and Ryan would be behind Carlton, Palmer, Blyleven, Niekro, Jenkins, Perry and every other pitcher in the Hall from his generation except Don Sutton.

posted by spira at 05:29 PM on May 20, 2003

World Series 6 1.56 3-0 0 0 40.3 25 7 12 43 Postseason 22 3.46 6-6 0 1 132.7 105 51 50 124 There are Roger's numbers in the postseason (following IP are hits/er/bb/k) Good, not awe-inspiring, numbers, though you have to give the man his World Series props. World Series 2-1 9 1.89 7-2 0 8 81.0 55 17 17 92 There are Gibby's numbers. No NLCS, obviously, and the ERA is skewed some by the era (ha!). Note three things here: 1) 7-2 in the World Series. 2) Eight complete games in nine starts. 3) A better than 5:1 K/BB ratio. I think if you add in Gibson's physical presence, facing hitters from another league who have never seen him (but heard plenty), you have to take him for a winner-take-all game.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:36 PM on May 20, 2003

By the way: World Series 3-1 8 0.95 4-3 0 4 57.0 36 6 11 61 Those are Koufax's numbers. How the hell does someone post an ERA below 1.00 and only go 4-3?!? This info came from

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:38 PM on May 20, 2003

8-0 1.07 62K 5BB 0-8 9.38 21K 23BB Those are the (okay, I made them but could probably likely find games to get very close to those numbers) numbers of 8 randomly chosen games by Bob Stanley, followed by eight randomly chosen games by Walter Johnson. From this, we can easily conclude that the Stanley Steamer was a better pitcher, and the guy you want for that must-win game. =) The point obviously, is that WS games are too small a sample size to make any judgement; pitchers do not suddenly "lose" the ability to pitch in the WS, nor do the great ones actually forget the mental strength that carries them through 162 games. Incidentally, Bob Gibson was 28, 31, and 32 years old in his 3 World Series appearances (the third in his 1968 season with the 1.12 era)- what would rightly be considered the span prime years for a pitcher. Clemens was a wunderkind 24 in 1986, but would not appear in another WS until he was 37. Yet even though only 2 of his WS games came under the age of 37, he still posts a better WS record and WS ERA than Gibson. His WS "dominance" is only diluted by his other PS appearances, which Gibson conveniently doesn't have; so it's not fair to compare Gibson's only WS appearances with all of Roger's PS appearances. One of the best reasons we can only really compare them by their career. And by that metric, Clemens is head and shoulders above Gibson. So if you have to win one game... Clemens is your man. Although a good question is: is the greatest pitcher the one whom you'd want more than anyone else if you had just one game? Or the guy you'd most want at his very best to play one full season? Or the guy who can be said to have done more for his team winning, in an average year, than any other pitcher? Or just the guy who's done more to help his team winning over the course of a career (thus rewarding longevity and sustained excellence, but possibly confusing the two as well)? A thorny question...

posted by hincandenza at 01:07 AM on May 21, 2003

I hate to come down on the "what my eyes have seen" side of the argument, but Hal, would you rather have Clemens in a Game 7 than Gibson? I'm not arguing Gibson's the better pitcher over his career; my problem is that I don't remember Rajah winning a meaningful post-season game after '86. Nothing in '88. Nothing in '90. And his WS wins with the Yankees have been of the Game 4 up-three-nil variety.

posted by yerfatma at 06:54 AM on May 21, 2003

I had a long response to Hal, and then lost the damn thing this morning. I agree to some extent about the small sample, but removing Roger's non-WS postseason makes that even smaller, and it's not Gibby's fault there were no NLCS or wild games for him to win. Taking all postseason into consideration, Gibson was clearly better under the gun. A more appropriate study might be how the two pitched down the stretch in pennant races. I recall Bill James having some of this info in one of his books, but damned if I could find it this morning. There's also just the gut factor of who you think would win that game. Hal, you have Clemens and Gibson sitting side-by-side in the clubhouse, well-rested and waiting to hear who's going to start Game 7. You take Clemens because you say he's a better pitcher over the long term. I might agree with that. I take Gibson because in a winner-take-all situation, especially when the other batters have seen him perhaps twice in the Series, I don't think anyone would be more overpowering than Gibby. I must also point out I feel a bit overwhelmed. Arguing baseball with Hal is like telling Julia Child she put too much paprika in the goulash.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2003

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