Update: Oh well, I should have predicted Clemens would throw a gem and win the battle with Bonds. I still find it interesting that the media did not cover this story the way it covered the similar Piazza/Clemens episode, in which the Mets attempted to retaliate against Clemens. We’ll see what Dusty does in May.
Tomorrow many people will focus on the Astros/Giants game to see Clemens face Bonds for the first time since June 2002. During that game Clemens followed through on a pre-game threat to hit Bonds. On Monday Clemens even joked about it and insinuated that he will not be afraid to go inside again.
“He’s a warrior,” Clemens said. “He knows when I get on the mound, if I’ve got to get up in there, I’m going there. Whatever I have to do, I’m going to try to get him out, and he’s going to try to hit the ball 500 feet. I think the fans, when he’s up, don’t make a trip to the rest room or the concession stands, because hopefully something’s going to happen.”
While I will certainly be interested in seeing Bonds and Clemens face off, I will be more intrigued by Clemens first trip to the plate against Jerome Williams. After the 2002 incident the Giants were livid with Clemens. Then Giants manager Dusty Baker nicknamed Clemens “Roger the Dodger” saying,
You can be bold in the American League and get away with that stuff,” he said of Clemens plunking Bonds. “It would be a little different in our league. You (pitchers) have to hit.”
Baker is gone and Williams was not even in the Majors when the incident occured, but I am not going to move out of my seat when Clemens comes to bat. Baseball players have a phrase that emphasizes their willingness to hold a grudge over a long time period. When a player makes a dirty play and league rules or the game situation makes immediate retaliation very costly, the victimized player will “put it in his pocket.” Barry Bonds has a big pocket. Clemens beaned him on purpose to send a message. I have little doubt that Mr. Bonds is going to have chat with Williams and manager Alou before the game. And should Clemens come to the plate in the right situation, Roger’s first National League plate appearance will be quite memorable. If you wonder why I feel this way see here. And knowing Dusty Baker’s temperament, I suspect the Cubs will also properly welcome “Roger the Dodger” to the NL in May.
If anyone knows of other grudges against Clemens that might now be settled during Clemens 2004 NL tour, please let me know. I would like to monitor these situations.