The Houston Astros have quite a dubious honor. The Astros and the Yankees closed out last season at Minute Maid Park as the last stop on the Mariano Rivera Retirement Tour Express. This season the Yankees will open at Minute Maid Park, setting the wheels a-turnin’ for the first leg of Derek Jeter‘s Farewell Tour. The master of ceremonies for the event is none other than Roger Clemens.
Clemens is currently special assistant to Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow. Luhnow has given Clemens the keys to the bus for Jeter’s send-off. It should be an interesting event. Clemens was on hand for The Sandman’s last career game in Houston last season, standing along side of Mo when the Astros presented him with the Memorable Mo Moments painting. “There are not many sure things in this world,” Clemens said, “but when we saw you coming in from the bullpen, that’s as close as you’re going to get.”
Of course, Clemens is no stranger to Mo and Jeter. The Rocket came over from Toronto amid the Yankees’ turn-of-the-millenium World Series run. Many Yankee fans scorned trading away fan favorite David Wells to get the superstar pitcher, but The Rocket did his best to quickly silence his critics. With Jeter behind him and Mo to shut things down, Clemens won the only two rings of his illustrious, and infamous, 24-year career. Clemens amassed an 83-42 record, posting a 4.01 ERA with 1014 strikeouts in his six year tenure in pinstripes. He captured a Cy Young in 2001 and was borderline untouchable in his starts in the ’99 and ’00 World Series.
Luhnow and Clemens both hope this young Astros organization takes heed from what they experienced last season and what they will see on Opening Day weekend. They have had the honor to watch the send-off of two of the games’ greatest at their position. It isn’t just their talent Luhnow wants his youngsters to emulate but their approach to the game as two players who, “did it the right way the whole time, that’s something we really want our guys to appreciate.”
What the Astros have in store for Jeter nobody knows. One thing is for certain, however. If the celebration is Rocket fueled, it is sure to be a good one.