One of the notable stories from yesterday was the absence of Joe Torre and Don Mattingly from the pre-game ceremonies on Sunday. Since they’re both with the Dodgers, it’s understandable why they did not appear in person. Donnie got mentioned along with the first basemen, though not announced by Kay or Sterling, and Torre’s name wasn’t uttered. Yet there was another Yankee from the dynasty years who went unnoticed last night: Roger Clemens. Why would the Yankees snub a player who is only one year removed from his last stint in Pinstripes?
They were afraid the fans would boo him.
“They didn’t want boos to be the last memory of Roger at the Stadium,” a source familiar with preparations for the last game told the Daily News.
While I’m not one for blindly trusting an anonymous Daily News source, this seems likely. Most people I know aren’t too fond of Clemens right now, be it because of his breakdown late last year, or because of his grandstanding amid steroid accusations and perjury charges. So there had to be legitimate concern over the reception he’d receive from fans.
When asked, Brian Cashman wiped his hands of the situation:
“Roger was a great Yankee and did a tremendous job here and we’re proud of the work he did here,” general manager Brian Cashman said Monday. “I can’t speak to why he wasn’t involved in the video tribute. I wasn’t part of any meetings.
“There’s a lot of controversy surrounding him right now, but that doesn’t change the kind of person he was when he was here. He’s special in my book, whether they showed a video clip of him or not.”
Team spokesman Howard Rubenstein also attempted to defuse the situation, saying that the snub of Torre and Clemens was not intentional:
“A lot of great Yankees were not mentioned,” Yankee spokesman Howard Rubenstein said of Clemens and Torre. “There was no slight intended and perhaps both of them should have been mentioned during the celebration.”
Sorry, but I’m not buying that one bit. To lump Clemens and Torre in with Yankees not mentioned just isn’t fair. Say what you will about Clemens, and I know there will be differing opinions, but you can’t just say that some people weren’t mentioned as an explanation for Joe Torre. And yes, perhaps both should have gotten a mention for their contributions to multiple World Championships.
Honestly, do you think that the fans would have booed had Clemens been present, or even recognized? I’m not sure that would have been the case. Fans might hold contempt towards the man, but Sunday night was not one rife for booing. I assume fans would have clapped out of respect for the man and his achievements. Booing would have just been out of place.