I'm not surprised, or even really that disappointed, at today's news of Roger Clemens signing on with the Yankees. Fans without a sense of history will call him a traitor, or worse, but the truth of the matter is the organization didn't nearly have the luster of the Big Apple. It never has, and it never will. That statement doesn't serve as an indictment of the Star, but is just an honest compare and contrast exercise with the Yankees.
Today, the Houston Astros were summoned back into the realization that they, despite their franchise's relative success in the past decade, are still the Houston Astros. The Astros' zenith was a world series appearance in 2005. The year before that, they won their first post-season series ever. The Astros, like almost all professional sports franchises around the world, completely pale in comparison with the international beacon of success known as the New York Yankees. They are an American symbol, recognized globally; the Astros are a historical also-ran who built the first indoor baseball stadium.
I remember my thought process when rumors began to surface of Roger Clemens signing with the Astros in 2004. I honestly couldn't believe what I was hearing. Roger Clemens? With my Astros? Is he serious? The man is arguably the best right handed pitcher in the history of baseball, and in my opinion, the best one since World War II. The Astros were best recognized around the country for rainbow jerseys in the 80's, artificial turf and Jeff Bagwell. I remember being floored by the news that he was joining Andy Pettitte in the starting rotation. His signing truly elevated the status of the franchise to heights it hadn't come close to before.
Since the day he arrived, the storyline in the national media was Roger Clemens first, Houston Astros second. To Astro fans it may have seemed unfair, but on a bigger scale, this perception is totally justifiable. Richard Justice said in a column / blog today that the Yankee boys just didn't find us that interesting. I don't agree with Richard alot of the time, but he got it right here. Houston is a big city, but New York is THE big city. Besides, Roger doesn't deserve to pitch valueless 2-1 games in front of 17,000 people in Pittsburgh in September for a 3rd place team. He's an icon, and his legacy in sports is bigger than that of the entire Houston Astros organization.
And as someone who loves the Astros, that's tough to admit.