Turn Back The Clock: February 18th, 1999-The Rocket Lands In The Bronx


Today is a very special day for me. No, not because the greatest right-handed pitcher of his era landed in the Bronx, but yes, that’s important too, but because on this date, 16 years ago, I became a father for the first time to my beautiful daughter, Alexa. Here first big league game was later that year, at the new Safeco Field in Seattle, as we lived in Oregon at the time. Tino Martinez hit a pair of home runs for my little lady, and it’s something I will never forget. Now, my little lady is not so little anymore. She’s a sophomore in high school in New Jersey, cheers, plays hoops, and softball, and she’s an excellent student as well. Above all else, she’s still a Daddy’s girl, and I couldn’t be more proud to be her father. Happy 16th birthday Lex, Daddy loves you!

My daughter and I enjoyed a Yankees/Angels game out in Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Billy Brost

Now, back to Roger Clemens. When the New York Yankees acquired the righty from Toronto for David Wells, Graeme Lloyd, and Homer Bush, the Bombers were simply adding to a spoil of riches already. A few years later, it would become even more sickening if you weren’t a fan of the Yankees, as Wells returned, and the Yankees also signed Mike Mussina, but David Cone was long gone by then. But why after only two seasons in Toronto–both of which Clemens not only won the American League pitching Triple Crown (Wins, Strikeouts, ERA), along with a pair of AL Cy Young Awards, would he want to leave Canada for the hated rivals, the New York Yankees? We can never forget that Rocket was always a Boston Red Sox, never fully a Toronto Blue Jay. 

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When the Red Sox chose not to bring back their ace, believing that he was in the twilight of his career, both the Yankees and Jays were in hot pursuit of the Rocket’s services. Clemens believed at the time, that the Blue Jays were in a better position to win long term. This was another in what was a series of poor judgement calls for Clemens, but that’s for another day. Once Clemens realized that Toronto was going nowhere fast, and that everyone else in the division was better (excluding the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of course), Clemens wanted out, and he wanted out like yesterday.

Boomer Wells was coming off of a successful season of his own, and the Yankees had just made history by completing the greatest single-season on record at 125-50, capped off by sweeping the San Diego Padres in the 1998 World Series. But during this era, the Yankees were always wanting more, attempting to capitalize on their already in motion dynasty. Wells and his antics both on and off the field were quickly become a headache for manager Joe Torre. When a guy like Torre sours on you, it’s time to move on, and that’s exactly how the deal went down. The Yankees dealt the hefty lefty along with solid reliever Graeme Lloyd, and second base speedster prospect Homer Bush. Bush and Wells were supposed to help the Blue Jays build for the future, and instead, never truly came to fruition in terms of team success.

Clemens of course, would struggle through the 1999 season, but would be a big piece in the Yankees appearing in three more World Series, winning one, along with a Cy Young Award, before departing for Houston the following winter after enjoying the fruits of a faux-retirement tour during the 2003 season. Clemens would return to the Bronx later on, for one final hurrah, but only as a shell of his former self. It was 16 years ago today, that my baby girl came into the world, and the Yankees acquired Roger Clemens.

Next: The Yankees Have Some Shuffling To Do

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