He had picked up three outs, none by strikeout, in the first inning. In the second, he had given up a run on a couple of hits, an error and a fielder's choice. He had collected two outs. On a 3-0 count to A's second baseman Willie Randolph, Clemens threw a fastball high and inside. Randolph started to move to first. Umpire Terry Cooney called the pitch a strike. Randolph objected mildly but returned to the plate. The next pitch was virtually the same as the last one. Cooney called it a ball. Clemens objected. The one easily discernible comment he made to Cooney in the slow-motion sequence was, "I'm not [expletive] talking to you.... Just keep your [expletive] mask on." Clemens was ejected by Cooney. For a moment, only a few of the participants seemed to realize what had happened. Morgan knew. He tore onto the field, hat in hand, to argue. Red Sox catcher Tony Pena, walking to the mound, seemed to know because he argued with Cooney as he walked. Second baseman Jody Reed knew. He told Clemens he had just been thrown out.
"I told him, 'Let's just wait a minute. Let's just see,' " Clemens says now.
Two orange Gatorade containers and a white plastic trash bucket were thrown from the Red Sox dugout by reserve second baseman Marty Barrett. The bucket landed near first base umpire Vic Voltaggio, and white papers littered the perfect grass. Barrett was screaming from the top of the dugout and was pulled back by coach Dick Berardino. Barrett broke away and resumed screaming. Clemens finally joined in and was held back by coaches Rac Slider and Bill Fischer. More words followed for the lip readers at home.
The incident became major news, even bigger than the A's 3-1 win that followed, completing a four-game sweep. This is a video age. It was perfect video. Did Cooney act too quickly? Did Clemens move past boundaries that everyone else has to observe? Who does this Clemens think he is? The story gathered momentum over the next few days.
Dave Stewart, the Oakland pitcher, said Clemens thought he was bigger than baseball. Cooney said Clemens wasn't going to be treated differently from anyone else, that he had gone beyond well-defined limits. An unnamed Red Sox official said Clemens had been "stressed out" for weeks and ready to snap. There was a report that Clemens had thrown a baseball into the stands while he was warming up. A photographer said Clemens had shoved him in the runway before the game. A columnist said that Clemens was "wearing war paint" for the game. It was suggested that Clemens had wanted to be thrown out, that he knew he didn't have good stuff. A number of the A's reported that during other games Clemens had yelled at pitchers Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley, that he told Welch, a recovering alcoholic, to "drink a beer like a real man, not any more of that milk." Two of the umpires reported that Clemens had told Cooney after he was ejected, "I'm going to find out where you live. I'm going to get you." The Boston Herald interviewed a Cambridge psychologist about Clemens's behavior.
The whole thing was a mess.
"Has it died down yet in Boston?" Clemens asks. "It must have died down. Thank goodness for [New England Patriot wide receiver] Irving Fryar. He had that fight in the nightclub in Providence and moved me off the front page."
This is now. There is going to be another story in the magazine. The blanks to be filled since the first story could stretch from Boston to Katy. The travails of the Patriots might have pushed the events of Oct. 10 to other pages, but they are far from forgotten. There is no need for pictures of the kids in their Jeeps this time. There are pictures enough. The Possessed Rebel took care of that. The character from the four quiet days has been left to explain the actions of the character from the noisy fifth.
"I was intense during that series, sure, I was intense," Clemens says. "I wanted to beat Oakland. They were a very cocky team, even before the Series started, styling around. It was, you know, David against Goliath. I was verbal during the Series, very verbal. Even before that game, I got caught on the bench on TV a couple of times being verbal. I wanted to win. One of their guys, I don't want to say who, came off the field once and said, 'Hey, what's the big deal?' The big deal, I told him, is that we haven't won this thing since 1918.1 wanted that monkey off our back."
The interview is held in an office in the home of Clemens's agent, Alan Hendricks, in a Houston suburb. Clemens sits in an overstuffed leather chair. He is wearing a pink golf shirt, gray jeans, boat shoes without socks. The Fu Manchu is gone. He is 28 years old, but he looks younger. He looks like a big kid. The big kid looks as if he has been called to the principal's office. The agent sits behind a desk. He could be the kid's father. He doesn't say much, but he is there if needed.