We couldn’t get to the conference call with Roger Clemens, the phone
lines were busy. And there were enough reasons for that: if there is a
baseball player on the face of this Earth that still creates buzz as no
other, he is certainly the Rocket.
It was a very busy day for us: after Newsday stuck
with their story, we were still waiting for a sign from Astros brass.
And it appeared as a media alert sent by email from the Media Relations
department. It sure was in short notice, the conference was scheduled
for 11 AM Central Time, and the message got to us approximately 1 hour
and 15 minutes before that.
We immediately approached our sources, which confirmed us the
proceedings. Well, they never denied it in the first place. But they didn’t confirm it either until this morning. We never
used the word "denial", just like other media outlets did. Those early reports of a deal were considered "premature". They were approximately 18 hours too early.
This is a day in which the baseball universe is most certainly revolving around the Rocket. Some people might be emotional about this, some others might express they are not pleased with what they consider "diva antics". But very few are staying quiet about it.
Our MLBlogosphere has been a place for discussion, and everyone has an opinion. For our very own take on this subject, you’ll have to wait for early next week, when is our moment to step up to the plate on astrosdehouston.com; the Astros official site in Spanish.
I’ll just tell you this is one very exciting moment to be involved with
this organization. It was sure a lot of work for Astros employees at
Union Station, a hectic day all along, but it felt great to be able to
spread these good news.
Did anyone remember there was a game being played this afternoon? Thought so. I have to admit, I didn’t watch it in its entirety. Too much of a Rocket blast for that.
Now, I’ll give you some quotes from today’s press conference. Keep on smiling, Astros fans.
Randy Hendricks, Clemens’ agent: "There was no deal done yesterday
which is what we?ve told everybody, and it?s true, but I got a hold of
Tim early in the evening and said ?why don?t you come by my house I
think we can talk about this deal.? We got done about midnight, and I
talked to Roger real late and told the other three teams that were
involved, Boston, New York and Texas. They did a terrific job and it
was a tough decision for Roger, and I?ll let him explain in his own
words why he made the decision. The deal was done at midnight like I
said, and we have more steps to go before Roger is on the mound".
Drayton McLane, Astros Chairman and CEO: "I love to talk about being a
champion, winning and being the best. And I know of no one that
represents that better than Roger Clemens. About an hour ago, I called
Commissioner Bud Selig and was telling him of the agreement we reached
late last night, and he congratulated me. He said ?I think that?s great
for Major League Baseball. He has grown up in Houston, he is loyal to
the fans in Houston, and that?s what?s great about baseball."
Roger Clemens: "Well, like I just told Drayton and Tim, and like I told
Randy when he called me late last night, the ball is in my court now.
This is a difficult decision on my part for a number of situations. I
have to now take the next step to get my body ready to come back and be
effective, win games, and do what I?m used to doing, and that?s being
extremely competitive at a high level".
"There were times that I told Deb that I just wanted to step away from
it all and continue to enjoy working at the foundation and in the
community and watch my buddies here work on this team. You know, here
we go again. I?m going to give it a shot. Not necessarily that I know I
need to or want to, but I?m committed. Again, it?s about winning. I
just kept coming back to the guys I went to battle with, and last time
I checked we were in the World Series last year. It?s the same team, if
not better. I know I?ve got my work cut out, like Tim said, and I?ve
got to do it step by step. I can get into a game situation and my body
not respond the way I want it to. I push my body hard, but I still need
to get some competitive and stressful innings in. Again, I don?t think
I would have taken on this challenge if I didn?t constantly hear from
my teammates. They were talking to me and encouraging me that they
thought I could do it, and that?s the deal. I?m going to get out there,
and fortunately I?ve been working out pretty hard the last couple weeks
and I?ve been staying away from the comments and things like that".
"I?ve got deep roots in the Boston tradition and I left nothing in the
bag when I was in New York. But the bottom line was the winning and
success we?ve had here the last two years- I had the opportunity to
come home and seized that moment, worked hard at it, and I?ve had some
great teammates work side by side with and we achieved some goals.
There is the same talent, or better in that locker room and they know
it. The games I?ve been able to catch and see, we haven?t had the best
of breaks go our way this year. So hopefully that will turn around and
we?ll have a good time with it."
Reporter: Will it be emotional for you on June 22, and what will that be like for you?
Roger Clemens: "I?m sure it?ll be emotional for me my family, but I
hope to have taken all the steps to be prepared and ready for that. For
me, that?s still a long way off. I don?t want to have any setbacks and
I want to make sure I?ve pushed myself hard enough to be ready for that
date everybody has talked about".
"If I asked Drayton to come in the clubhouse and do arm exercises with
me, he?d be there. (laughing). He usually is there, and he?s standing
over me asking me ?are you ready to be a champion?? He?s the most
positive man I?ve ever met. I know he has to have some bad days, but
I?ve never seen them. He?s always positive, his commitment to winning
is obvious, and not just in my sense of being here. It?s obvious what
he wants to do, and he pushed us to the point and helped us get to the
World Series last year.
I would hope that everyone?s goal is to get to
back there. You just have to win 11 games once you get to the playoffs,
and I think this team is capable of doing that. I think we?re a
playoff-caliber team. To have the opportunity to pitch with Roy Oswalt,
who I?ll be real surprised if he doesn?t win 20 games again, and with
Andy Pettitte, he?s the reason I was able to come home and play. I?m
looking forward to it; the ball is in my court, that?s all I can say. I
have to go out and do it and get ready so I can be a part of this".