Crashing and burning with “The Rocket”

Hearing the ludicrous stats and numbers associated with the return of Roger Clemens to the New York Yankees (he’ll get about $4.5 million per month, while the team will shell out a total of salary and penalties of over $26 million for him this year), has me confounded as a fan, of both the Yankees and of the sport of baseball.

Even if he lives up to his second-coming status billing, and the Yankees win a championship (the importance of which he seems to be aware: “Anything else is a failure, and I know that.”), is he worth that much money?  Is anyone on the planet worth that much?  Or is this just the continuation of skyrocketing ticket prices, which, in a paradox, are pricing many folks out of going to ball games, while game attendance continues to escalate to record numbers each year.

This whole deal made me dive into some stats from last year, involving the best and worst players, salaries, and, of course, the Yankees (source: baseball-reference.com:

  • Johan Santana tied for the AL lead in wins with 19 (with Chien-Ming Wang, who earned $353k for the season and also ended up in the top 5/10 in several other pitching categories).
  • The Yankees had the top 4 salaries in the AL, with only one of them being under $20mil (Mike Mussina, $19mil).  The highest salary in the NL was Jeff Bagwell ($19.4mil; Pettitte, now a Yankees starter, was 4th with 16.4mil).  Ten Yankees’ salaries were over $10mil.
  • In all of baseball, only six players played in 162 games, and two of them were with Texas (Teixieira and Michael Young).
  • The Yankees’ fan attendance was over 4.2mil (which is amazing in itself, if you’ve gone to a game at Yankee Stadium recently and experienced its near-impossible parking and high food prices, among other factors). The next-closest AL team were the Angels, at 3.4mil.
  • Despite allowing 114 earned runs (tied for 4th-worst in the league), Randy Johnson somehow amassed 17 wins (tied for 3rd-best in the league). Talk about run support!

So, if “The Big Unit” can pitch that badly, yet still chalk up 17 wins, maybe “The Rocket” can do the same.  But if the real season doesn’t begin until October, how much rocket fuel will he have left in his tank by then?

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