09 September 2003

No Sense of History...

This Thursday, the second anniversary of the Worst Day In American History, I plan to take a friend to Yankee Stadium. What better way to stick it to the evildoers?

This date will be historic for a number of other reasons as well. For one thing, my friend (we'll call him "Cary" since that's what his parents named him) has never been to Yankee Stadium, so it is quite a privelige for me to be able to take him, a man who has been a Yankee fan in some sense for his whole 56-year life, to his first game.

As far as I can tell, this will be the fifth person for whom I've been able to do this, including my mom and my wife, and it never gets old. I cannot even describe the look of pure joy on my mom's face as she crested the stairs on the way to the tier section ('tier' comes from the French word for "entirely too high") to see her first game, at age 51. My mom is, frankly, a much more rabid Yankee fan than Cary is, but I'm sure he'll have a honkin' good time nonetheless.

Another reason that this Thursday may be historic in nature is that Roger Clemens is scheduled to start. This isn't really that big a deal, since he's done that over 600 times in his career already. But there's an excellent chance that this Thursday, 11 September 2003, will mark the last regular season home start of Clemens' career.

His next two starts should be at Baltimore and at Tampa Bay, and then his final start of the season could be at home, against Baltimore again, on the second to last day of the year. But if the Yanks have wrapped up the division by then, they'll likely sit Clemens to rest him for the playoffs and start some poor schmo in his place. And if they do that (I know, that's a lot of 'if's) then Cary and I will be present for the last regular season home start of the Rocket's illustrious career. Of course, Rocket hasn't exactly blasted off this year at home, going only 5-7 with an ERA over 5.50, but hey, it's only the Tigers, right?

The other reason that this could have been an historic occasion, but probably won't, is that Mike Maroth should have been scheduled to start against Clemens. Maroth, as you may know, is the newest member of the 20-Game Losers' Club, and the first since 1980, when Brian Kingman paid his dues and joined up.

Kingman was, amazingly, not that bad a pitcher in 1980. Despite the 20 losses, 1980 was the best season of his career. His 3.83 ERA, eight wins, 211 innings pitched, 32 games (30 starts), 10 complete games and 116 strikeouts were all career best numbers for him. He didn't even pitch on a particularly bad team, as the 83-79 Oakland A's had five starters with at least 210 innings pitched, a combined AL-best 3.46 ERA and no other starter with a losing record. Sadly, they scored only enough runs to rank 10th inthe then 14-team American League, and Kingman got only about 2.9 runs of support per game. Jim Rome apparently doesn't think that Kingman had anything of which to be proud, but then...

A) ...for a guy whose voice sounds like Jacob Silj with a head-cold, I'm not sure I'd be criticizing "losers" if I were Jim. And besides...

2) How many games has Jim Rome lost in the major leagues? Thought so.

Maroth is a different story. He's a bad pitcher on a bad team. A really bad team. The worst team in Tigers history, and they've had some doozies, having lost 100 games five times in their history, and without a winning season since 1993. Kudos to Tigers manager Alan Trammell for continuing to trot him out there as much as he has, in spite of the 20-loss stigma, but why suddenly the thought of losing 21 is so daunting I can't figure out.

So instead of watching the classic matchup of the Immortal Roger Clemens vs. the (now) Infamous Mike Maroth, we'll get to see Immortal Rocket vs. the Inconsequential Nate Cornejo.

At least the tickets were half-price.

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