Work in Sports
On the Diamond
Yankees' Clemens drags Series into another fine mess
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- It is inescapable, like summer smog over Manhattan or airplane noise at Shea Stadium. The Roger Clemens question will not go away.
As players for the New York Yankees and New York Mets took the field at Shea Tuesday night for Game 3 of the World Series, several new questions hounded them, all stemming from the bizarre Roger Clemens bat throwing incident in Game 2.
Major League Baseball laid a $50,000 fine on Clemens earlier in the day. Baseball, evidently, felt that Clemens throwing Mike Piazza's broken bat back toward him was "inappropriate conduct," though Clemens wasn't tossed from the game.
So was the fine warranted? Was the timing right? Should Clemens have been suspended, too?
And does anyone around here play baseball anymore?
"Isn't that contradicting what the umpire's judgment was," an exasperated Mets first baseman Todd Zeile said. In a column he's writing for a New York paper, Zeile has been critical of Clemens, saying all the Mets players have lost all respect for the five-time Cy Young award winner.
"I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing," he said of the fine. "I don't know."
Mets general manager Steve Phillips was fine with the fine. But he said he'd have been fine with it if Baseball had decided to do nothing. The important part, he contended, was that the league looked into it.
"I think they had to act quickly on it," Phillips said.
Clemens has seven days to appeal the suspension. He issued a statement through the Yankees' public relations department that said he will not address questions about or even consider an appeal until the Series is over. "I want to stay focused on the task at hand," he said, "helping my team win the World Series."
The Yankees are up 2-0 in the best-of-seven Series, but it has moved to Shea for the next three games, and the Mets fans in the old stadium are ready. A host of signs around alluded to the Clemens incident. One said "Piazza=Class, Clemens= ..." with a picture of a kicking donkey. Another: "Welcome to Shea Stadium: No Bat Throwing Allowed." And, in a classic misspelling: "Family Fued."
All of it, of course, blurs the importance of this game, especially for the Mets. No team ever has rebounded from being down 3-0 in a seven-game series. All the Mets, and all the Yankees, know it, too.
"It's disappointing," Mets reliever John Franco said. "There is so much other stuff to talk about. I think it's kind of taken away from both teams."
The hope by baseball was that the quick action would quell all the Clemens talk. It may, too.
"To me, it's a dead issue," said Phillips. "Until Game 6 ..."
Yes, if there is a Game 6, Clemens is expected to start.
Now won't that be fun?
Bottom Lines: Former Yankee great Reggie Jackson shared a handshake with Franco and shared this story: He was supposed to throw out the first pitch in Game 6 in 1998 and Game 5 last season, but the Yankees swept both times, knocking him out of the rotation. He is, he said, supposed to throw out the first pitch for Game 6 on Saturday. "We'll let you throw the ball out for us," Franco said ... The pitchers for Game 4, scheduled for Wednesday at Shea, are Denny Neagle for the Yankees and Bobby J. Jones for the Mets ... The public address announcer at Shea is not expected to call Clemens' name out Tuesday evening. Traditionally, only the starting lineups and managers are get announced during team introductions prior to the national anthem ... Olympic gold medal manager Tommy Lasorda is to throw out the first pitch ... *NSYNC is to do the national anthem.