ESPN Got Excited for What?

Roger Clemens was making his Astros debut tonight and ESPN wanted you to know to the point of excess. Sure I was intrigued by his return but I didn’t cancel breathing to watch it. The match up couldn't have been better with the Minnesota Twins sending out Francisco Liriano, one of the best young lefties in the game. But ESPN felt like they were about to unveil the secret hiding spot of Jimmy Hoffa with their over the top buildup.

I passed on the 30 minutes of pre-game they had. As I channeled surf while waiting for the start I noticed they had a countdown clock till he pitched. Was that necessary? Was he about to blast off to the moon in a rocket pack? Because if he was then a countdown clock would have been great. Otherwise ditch it.

Then they showed video montages of him pitching. The pitching looked the same but he was just in different uniforms and he got fatter. Then they flashed his stats on top of the video. Seven Cy Youngs. Two World Series Rings. Five Fingers. Eleven Toes. Just silly things.

This was in addition to their award winning coverage of his Class A minor league start a few weeks ago. It was so important that they had the guys in the studio give play by play. They had a running pitch count on the bottom of the screen. When have we ever seen a running pitch count on TV for any baseball game? You only need a running count during Nathan’s hotdog eating contest. Unless he was throwing with a prosthetic arm and breaking the world record of pitches thrown, a running pitch count was ridiculous. Nobody cared but someone at ESPN.

In the Class A start, they exaggerated every time something happened. Oh he gives up a hit. He’s only given up 3997 in his career. So what’s a few more going to do. He gives up a homerun! The young batter who hit it sounded like he was just told a cockroach died. He’s given up 347 in his career. Plus this was a first round draft pick who’s expected to do this. Not Helen Keller taking swings.

I got sick of all the hype. Let’s not forget Roger Clemens pitched only eight months ago for Houston. He even pitched in the World Baseball Classic before waiting less than half the season to make his debut. It wasn’t like he was thawed after being cryogenically frozen for twenty years, discovered life on Mars, all without a spacesuit, and then re-entered earth without a spaceship. He wasn’t even gone that long enough for anyone to miss him.

Finally the best part was that he lost in his debut. He pitched okay. Gave up 2 runs. Struck out four. Did not intimated the Twins. Had 100 pitches through 5 innings before he was pulled. He didn’t split the atom like I thought we were promised.

But this story has a happy ending. I bet on the Twins tonight. Thank you Roger and the Astros.

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