Friday, December 27, 2013

Top 50 Players On Cardboard- #11 Roger Clemens

My Top 50 On Cardboard
Roger Clemens

1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens

I am feeling a little snarky about today's post.  There are way too many statements being thrown around about the Baseball Hall of Fame and issues of morality.  The latest to wade into the pool of morality is the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons who claims that he cannot vote for players like Rogers Clemens because he has a duty to judge the character and morals of a player who is being considered for the Hall.  While I personally do not think it was a wise decision for Clemens to waste years of his life and millions of dollars throwing a grown-up temper tantrum over allegations leveled by his former trainer it still does not take away from the fact that Clemens was one of the best starting pitchers ever to appear in a Major League Baseball game.  Of course, Clemens is making my list for the fact that he was also a great player for fans to collect starting with his 1984 Fleer Update rookie card.  This card still holds some pretty good value despite falling a ways over the years, but is an unquestioned iconic card of the 1980s in my opinion.  There are other nice Clemens cards, even rookies, but a 1984 Fleer Update is a must for any Clemens fan, or 1980s baseball card collector. 

Hobby Impact-
Clemens cardboard was popular throughout hsi entire career.  It helps that he played for some great fan bases in New York and Boston, but even during his time in Toronto and Houston, many collectors took note of his incredible on the field performance and bought and traded for his cardboard.  I liked Clemens as a Red Sox and Blue Jay and have a pretty healthy collection of his cards from the 80s, early 90s, and mid 90s.  I became a little bit in different to the Rocket during his Yankees days, but returned to finding cool Clemens cards after watching him pitch a few times for the Astros.  I had a healthy respect for the talents and abilities of Roger Clemens.

Naturally, I sought the usual array of cards from Clemens ranging from nice base cards, parallels and inserts, up to relics and autographs.  I have always loved my Clemens autograph from the 2001 SP Authentic set despite the fact that it features him as a Yankee and not as an Astro, Red Sox, or Jay. 

2001 SP Authentic Roger Clemens Buyback Autograph

I also own a copy of his 1995 Upper Deck autograph, which is a Red Sox card, but the 2001 SP Authentic set was a really cool set for autographs and I tried to pick up as many of the autographs from this set as possible.  By cool I mean there are some nice buybacks, an Edmonds, and a Pujols autograph.  Some of the buyback autographs can be a little bit testy on condition, but this Clemens is a great looking card.  He's always had a really nice signature and this card is no different.  The 150 print runs is pretty laughable these days, but a "high" print run doesn't take away from the fact that this is a cool card.  

Another quickie on Clemens cards.  I rarely talk or dabble with talk of fraudulent cards on my blog mainly because I deal with above board people with above board cards.  However, my one instance of fraud during my card collecting career involved a 1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens card.  I know that a certain Dallas based card magazine will sometimes stir the pot on the whole fraud issue (they are a certification service after all), but the Clemens cards seem to be a legit problem.  Unless you can find a copy that is already certified or you are buying from a dealer who is going to stand behind the card I would stick to the 1985 Topps, Fleer, and Donruss rookies.  They are all nice cards and worth a spot in your collection. 

1985 Topps Roger Clemens

On The Field-
I have said this several other places on this blog during the past year, but you could make a case for Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, or Roger Clemens all being the best starting pitcher during the past twenty years.  I am not going to get into anything overly heated over the matter and have heard great arguments for all three pitchers.  I'd probably rank Clemens above Johnson and Maddux slightly.  It could be personal bias, but I think the numbers are there to support the claim.

First, Clemens was always one of the ultimate competitors of the game.  He could have his bad moments just like any other player in the game and then bounce back to do something spectacular that you did not see coming.  As a Cardinals fan, I remember one of the best moments watching Cardinals baseball was seeing Scott Rolen take him yard for a game winning home run during the seventh game of the 2004 National League Championship Series.

I actually bought a copy of this series off of ITunes and watch it once a year or so on my computer.  Clemens gave the Astros a great chance to win that series and a great chance to win that game.  He got beat competing against of the best three offensive players in the National League that season in the way of Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Albert Pujols.  It had to be a low point in the career of Clemens, but he was doing what he did best against a good team.  He won plenty of these battles at other points during his career.

For example, just the year before against the same Cardinals team Clemens acheived the remarkable plateaus of 300 wins and 4000 strikeouts in the same game.  One of the coolest things I have ever seen in my career as a baseball fan.

So, here's a little bit more in the way of hard numbers on the career of Roger Clemens.  JAWS ranks him as the third best pitcher of all-time behind Walter Johnson and Cy Young, but in the top ten with Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux.  His ERA+ of 143 actually also ranks him ahead of Maddux and Johnson, but he's behind Pedro Martinez and Clayton Kershaw in that stat.  Clemens actually looks really impressive when looking at the counting number stats and his rankings on those lists.  Old School fans will be happy, new schoolers are still welcome to read the next paragraph.  

Clemens ended his career just with 4,600 stirkeouts which puts him third behind Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan on the all-time list.  His 354 wins rank him 9th all-time, one win behing Maddux, but both are far ahead of most on the all-time wins leader board amongst post-World War II players.  Throw in the fact that Clemens won seven Cy Youngs and a pair of Pitching Triple Crowns and you've got a Hall of Fame resume.  

Favorite Card-
Always been my favorite Clemens card. Not much of an explanation needed other than, really cool. 

1991 Topps Roger Clemens

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