Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Clemens' Mindset

In the bottom of the sixth inning in the 2004 NLCS, Roger Clemens faced Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen with runners on base. To anyone viewing the game, it was obvious that the Cardinals' batters, at first blown away by Clemens' fastball, had caught up with it after a couple times through the lineup. Yet the Rocket continued to challenge the hitters, thinking he could put them away by sheer force of will with the high hard one. Didn't work. In that fateful sixth, Pujols doubled in a run, and Rolen hit a two-run homer that proved to be the game winner for the Cards, sending them to the World Series.

I had a chance to talk with Scott Rolen later that year, and the one question I had for him was, "What made Clemens think he could throw a fast ball by you at that point in the game, in that situation?" Rolen's answer was basically, "That's just Roger." What made Clemens great, and what sometimes cost him, was his enormous hubris. No matter the circumstance, no matter the odds, he always believed he had one good fastball in him that no one could catch up with.

Apparently, Roger hasn't learned his lesson. All this bluster and clenched-jaw determination that we've been seeing from him lately is getting blasted all around the Congressional and media ballpark. He's been tipping his pitches, and when good hitters know it's coming, they generally hit it hard. The Rocket's back is against the wall and despite his grit he is getting hammered and it seems very likely the game is lost.

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