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realfan05 wrote:I was under the impression that this was the "leftover" section and a place to discuss baseball in general. Did not mean to stepon any toes. I am just a bit ticked off regarding this whole steroid situation and enjoy hearing what other fans have to say. And why would a anti barry bonds web site be illegal? It is a spoof.
nuggets wrote:At 42, Clemens still loves The Grind
Roger Clemens achieved his 330th victory on Monday, and slowly, he is pulling within range of Warren Spahn's 363 career victories, the most of any pitcher finishing his career after 1930. And remember how, a couple of years ago, it seemed inevitable that Randy Johnson would overtake Clemens in career strikeouts? Well, we're not so sure now.
Watched some of his game against the Marlins on Monday, and Clemens was exceptional once more, ending the Astros' horrific losing streak, blowing away what might be the best team in the National League. In pitching seven scoreless innings against the Marlins, Clemens allowed four hits and three walks – and while I didn't see every pitch, I'd bet two of the walks were of the intentional-unintentional variety: He walked Mike Lowell with Alex Gonzalez on deck, and later, he walked Miguel Cabrera with Juan Encarnacion on deck, and there were runners on base in both instances. You don't have that much success without having a pretty good understanding of what you're doing.
But as Clemens's career continues, the thing that separates him isn't his mound intelligence or his fastball (although those are pretty good). What he has, more than anybody else, is a love of the grind.
So many pitchers walk away from the game saying they still love to compete, but that they can't take the grind any more: The work between starts, the travel, the arm exercises, the shoulder pain the day after a start. When you're out there on the mound and you happen to have good stuff, they'll tell you what incredible fun that is, blowing away hitters. But the rest of it – spring training, the work, the travel, all those games when your stuff is subpar and you feel like you can't sneak a pitch past the All-Star slugger standing in front of you – that's the grind, and helps to drive players out of the game.
Clemens embraces all that, thrives on it, in a manner that is unique to him.
It's not in his nature to do anything half way. A lot of players will hold parties for teammates, as travel dictates; a Floridian from the Rangers might invite teammates over to his place for a get-together during a series against the Devil Rays. Have some catering, put some beers and water on ice; welcome to my humble abode. But when Clemens arranges stuff like this, teammates say, he works at it; he makes it an event.
You want some food? How about tray after tray of the best stuff, fixed by the best chef available? For music, he isn't settling for a stereo turned down low. The Yankees had a get-together at his house a few years back and Clemens hired a band to play. He arranges the golf outings, fully loaded. Need a couple of tickets to a concert? Clemens will make sure there is nothing but VIP treatment.
So the day after he pitches, when most other older starters might be wincing as they test their shoulder sockets, Clemens is running. Doing sit-ups. Maybe trying to beat his personal record for Jobe exercises. Maybe trying to compete against Andy Pettitte in who can do the fastest shuttle run in May of 2005. He makes those workouts an event.
There are probably eight to 10 starts a year when Clemens has great stuff, seven to 15 starts when he has mediocre stuff – and five to seven starts when Clemens has almost nothing, when his fastball is clipping 91-92 mph and his splitter is not too good. Clemens loves those games when he's got nothing. Absolutely loves them. He makes them an event, a unique challenge: I'm throwing doo-doo and I've got to try to find a way to beat that guy standing in the batter's box. Clemens knows he has no business winning, so he's going to make sure he sure he gives himself a chance to win.
Pettitte said at age 29 that he could feel the grind getting to him already, and he's not the first and won't be the last. Roger Clemens beat the Marlins on Monday night, and today, he faces The Grind, a daily competition he has won time and again in the first 42 years, 9 months and 5 days of his life. Once more, The Grind will lose.
Buster Olney is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. He began covering baseball in 1989, as the Nashville Banner's beat reporter assigned to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. Later, he covered the San Diego Padres (1993-94), the Baltimore Orioles ('95-'96), the New York Mets ('97) and the Yankees ('98-2001). Olney joined ESPN The Magazine in 2003, after six years at The New York Times, and he's the author of the Times' bestseller The Last Night Of the Yankee Dynasty, a book about the Paul O'Neill-Tino Martinez Yankees' dynasty of 1996-'01.
Olney also contributes to ESPN.com, ESPN Radio, ESPNEWS, SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight.
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