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Roger Clemens Notebook and some musings

Now that the media attention around Roger Clemens signing with the Sugar Land Skeeters is coming to a head with his start on Saturday night, I’ve gathered up a few miscellaneous facts and opinions.  No matter what your opinion is of Clemens, there is no doubt this week has been tremendous for our league from an exposure standpoint, which benefits all the clubs, not just Sugar Land and Bridgeport, their opponent this weekend.

  • It has been announced that ESPN will broadcast the Skeeters game in full on Saturday night, on ESPN Classic.  Unfortunately, if you live in York and have Comcast, that channel is not available in HD.  It is on cable if you have the sports pack, channel 265.  I don’t have Directv, so I can’t help you there.  If you don’t have ESPN Classic, the game will be streamed live online at ESPN3.com, if your internet provider supports it.  Finally, ESPNEWS will be cutting in with just the top-half of each inning as long as Clemens is pitching, if you don’t have the other two options.  If you’re not watching the Steelers-Bills preseason game, enjoy.  I’ll be DVRing the baseball game it and watching it later.  (Go Bills.)
  • ESPN has announced the broadcast team for the game.  Kevin Dunn will be the play-by-play announcer; he works for the ESPN-run Longhorn Network, which is the official 24-hour TV network for University of Texas athletics.  Certainly, there is a convenience of geography there.  The analyst on the broadcast will be Danny Graves, who pitched in 62 games for the Long Island Ducks in 2007, leading the league in saves that season with 33.  He ended his career with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings in the Twins organization the following season.  Graves pitched in 11 big league seasons with the Indians, Reds and Mets…spending the vast majority of that time with the Reds.  His acumen on the Atlantic League and just how competitive and high a level of play it is gives the broadcast instant credibility, and is a great choice by ESPN –  it shows they’re taking the game as a serious baseball event despite the entire focus being on Clemens.  Jayme Lamm will be the reporter on the field.
  • While I’m thrilled with the inclusion of Graves on the broadcast, I wish ESPN had dispatched former Somerset Patriots radio announcer Adam Amin to do play-by-play of the game.  Nothing against Dunn, but only one sportscaster at ESPN worked in our league for two full seasons.  Amin was hired by ESPN to broadcast college and some high school sports – mostly on ESPNU as the 2011 season was ending.  He called Somerset’s games on the radio in ’10 and ’11.  He is by far the most qualified play-by-play man for this particular job at the network, but it may have been an impossible assignment for him as he prepares for looming college and high school football broadcasts this week for ESPNU.  Hopefully Graves’ presence in the booth makes up for anything Dunn doesn’t know about the league.  It would’ve been fun to see Amin return to an Atlantic League stadium in his new, high-profile role however.
  • Lonnie King at the Houston Examiner uncovered some nice stats about former Major Leaguers on Bridgeport’s roster that have faced Roger Clemens in the past:  Shea Hillenbrand (former Rev) has had a great deal of success against Clemens, and is 7-for-21 (.333) lifetime against him.  All seven hits were singles.  Luis Lopez is 1-for-5 (.200) against Clemens, when Lopez was with Toronto and Clemens with the Yankees.  Clemens actually struck out Lopez to move into third place on the all-time strikeouts list.
  • The Skeeters front office is still saying they’re unsure whether Clemens will travel or not, but I, like most, see it as unlikely.  The Skeeters visit York for a four-game series September 3-6.  According to Michael Foster, who is the Revolution Box Office Manager, the Revolution did see a brisk pick-up in individual ticket sales for that series once the Clemens signing was announced, on the remote chance Clemens might be coming to town  Assuming he doesn’t pitch at Sovereign Bank Stadium, we still thank those fans for their business, and hope they enjoy the game(s).
  • The Skeeters have three home series remaining this season against Bridgeport, Long Island the weekend after next, and then against the Revolution to end the regular season.  While the Clemens camp is still saying they’re taking it “one start at a time,” should Clemens make three or four starts at home, he may end up facing York in one of the final games of Sugar Land’s season. Well out of the Wild Card standings, the Skeeters would need to win the Freedom Division second half to qualify for the playoffs, and continue to fall behind both York and Lancaster in that race.
  • Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young award winner, will be the first Cy Young winner to suit up in the Atlantic League.  However, Somerset Manager Sparky Lyle did win the award as a top reliever for the Yankees in 1977.
  • If you are a Seinfeld fan, you know that according to Elaine, there are degrees of coincidence.  She believes there are small coincidences and big coincidences.  From the big coincidence department:  On June 6, 2006, Clemens was in the midst of one of his Major League comebacks with the Astros, and pitching for their Class A affiliate the Lexington Legends in the South Atlantic League on his way to Houston.  That night Lexington was playing the Lake County Captains, who  are Cleveland’s affiliate.  A youngster by the name of Johnny Drennan homered off Clemens in that game.  Six years later, Clemens and Drennan find themselves in the same league again, as Drennan has spent the season with Somerset.  With Somerset having already made both trips to Sugar Land this season, the only chance Clemens could face Drennan again would be if Clemens actually travels, and pitches in one of the two games Sugar Land has in Somerset on September 12 or 13.
  • While he is starting Saturday, Clemens will be in uniform Friday (tonight) as the Skeeters open their series against Bridgeport at Constellation Field.
  • Looking at the Skeeters promotional schedule, Monday, September 10 is University of Texas Night at Constellation Field when they take on Long Island.  That would be an interesting night for Clemens to pitch and hence pack the ballpark – Clemens of course is a University of Texas alum where he played his college ball.  Talk about a nice sales angle! #HookEmHorns
  • If you want a Skeeters Roger Clemens t-shirt, Sugar Land has made them available online.  I’d act quickly, here’s the link:  http://shop.sugarlandskeeters.com/product_p/clemens21.htm
  • Hopefully former Revolution catcher Octavio Martinez (2011) catches Clemens.  He is Sugar Land’s primary catcher.

-Paul Braverman

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