Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Baseball: Rocket comes to Lexington

Not to kick into overly sentimental baseball mode, but I think two figures right now really sum quite a bit about our country's character. Of course, there's Barry Bonds, who has made us all ambivalent about the value of home runs and hitting a lot of them with steroids. He's four thousand years old and falling apart, and nobody in the country actually wants the jerk to hit another anything. We all want him kicked out of any record books he's ever entered, and that's probably sad, since he's obviously an amazing player who, even without steroids, did some pretty amazing things. Enough for the Hall, anyway. His steals as a young'un, back when he was relatively waify and not spouting roid rage, were pretty impressive for a dude hitting home runs more occasionally, but consistently.

And then there's Roger Clemens, who grew from jerk-in-his-hey-day to superman-in-his-twilight, the antithesis of Bonds, a guy who, even if we didn't like him as a Yankee or a Red Sox player, we can cheer for when he strikes out six guys on a A-farm team with his son playing third base (and one of those strikeouts in the third inning earned every fan free windshield-wiper fluid).

From The Herald-Leader:

What was neat about all this was that after the past few days, it was like we were watching one of our own.

Clemens didn't helicopter in. He arrived last Thursday. He hung out with his kid. He worked out. He went on an electronics shopping spree. He refurbished the Legends' clubhouse. (Roger Clemens, decorator. Who knew?) He's staying three more days before heading back to Texas. We should adopt the guy.

He also could not have been classier. Example: Having completed his pre-game warmup pitches in the Legends' bullpen down the right-field line, Clemens walked to the Lexington dugout. There standing were the 7- and 8-year-olds of the Southwest Lexington Little League Reds, waiting for their ceremonial dash onto the field with the Legends during player introductions. Clemens stopped and shook each Little Leaguer's hand, one by one.

Then, after 8-year-old Brandon Stewart belted out the national anthem, Clemens knelt and signed a ball for the Little Leaguer who had accompanied him to the mound.

"When I saw him do that I started bawling like a baby," said Alan Stein, the Legends' chief executive. "That's what this night was about. It was about fathers and sons. Roger wouldn't have been here were it not for Koby."

For us, the night was about getting to watch a real-life Legend work. History. Once-in-a-lifetime.
Sappy? Sure. But by God, if we can't be sappy about baseball, the terrorists have won!

The Lexington Legends are a Houston Astros farm team that have been playing in Applebee Park in Lexington since 2001.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Yeah, I tried to get tickets but apparently they sold out immediately following the announcement and were going for $400 on eBay. For $400, you could get boxed seating the next time he pitches in Cincinnati (where he is likely to throw more than 62 pitches) and probably still have enough money to go to Starbucks on the way home. He was quite classy in his appearance I thought.