10/22/2003 2:23 AM ET
Clemens' finale to dominate Game 4
Pavano's outing could be the bigger story in Series
Clemens meets the media
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
Pavano meets the media
MIAMI -- Game 4 of a World Series is a large enough event all by itself. But this one comes with bonus attractions filled with history and sentiment.
This Game 4 will be Roger Clemens' last start in the Major Leagues. Under any other circumstances, this would be a monumental baseball event, in and of itself. In this case, there is no personal milestone that can outweigh the contest between the Yankees and the Marlins.
"Yeah, I think the World Series takes precedent over that," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
It is possible, Torre said, that if this Series went to seven games, Clemens could appear in relief. "Everybody is available in Game 7," Torre noted. But the Series may not come to that, and there is no chance that Torre would start Clemens in a Game 7 on short rest.
Clemens will be opposed in Game 4 by Carl Pavano of the Marlins, who has created very little historical significance so far, but who has been very helpful for the Marlins in the 2003 postseason.
Pavano was a starter during the season, moved to the bullpen at the beginning of the postseason, then returned to the rotation during the NL Championship Series. Overall, he is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in seven appearances this October. Going in, Roger Clemens is the leading Game 4 story. But it is distinctly possible that Carl Pavano could make himself the story.
Clemens, 41, is going out on his own terms, retiring after a season in which he won 17 games, attained the 300-victory mark and moved into even more exclusive territory by moving past 4,000 strikeouts. His greatness extends well beyond the reach of reasonable debate.
But this appearance is the one that will be his final starting performance. It will likely be his last memory of big-league competition and the baseball public's last memory of him in competition. Fortunately for Clemens, and fortunately for the Yankees, as well, Clemens is not likely to get caught up in all the conflicting emotions of the moment. And there will be conflicting emotions.
"I'll be happy, but yet I'll be sad," Clemens said. "I'm just grateful for this opportunity to be able to go out there again on the grandest stage and have an opportunity to work."
How will Clemens keep his focus on the importance of the game itself, and not his own situation?
"It's just being a creature of habit," Clemens said. "I won't change anything I do pregame or anything like that. I don't really think once I get here to the stadium that's going to enter my mind. I think the people that have watched the years go by that are the closest to me, I think they will be sitting on that more than I will. I think they'll be thinking about that more than I will. Because once I hit that mound, I'm not gonna have to look any further than the other dugout to know what I'm up against and what I have to do."
Clemens knows exactly what to do in these circumstances. Lifetime, he is 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in six World Series starts.
While the vast majority of the attention will be focused on Clemens, Pavano bears the heavier burden as far as Game 4 itself goes. If Clemens does not pitch up to his standards and the Yankees lose, the worst thing that happens is that the Yankees fall into a 2-2 tie in the World Series and a lot of people feel sorry for the Rocket, going out on a low note. But if Pavano doesn't pitch well, chances are the Marlins would trail, 3-1. And against the masters of the postseason, you wouldn't like the chances of the Fish in that spot.
The rest of the Yankees are doing their best to keep things light on the occasion of Clemens' finale. Their respect for him is a given. They can't get caught up in anything other than the result of this game, either.
"Every time he pitches it's his 'last start,' you know, that's what we've heard," Derek Jeter said with a smile. "I'm looking forward to getting his 'last start' out of the way. Not really, though. We're pretty good at blocking those things out. He's in his last year, so everywhere we went, it was his last start here, his last start there, 300th win here. This team has been pretty good about putting personal goals aside. Obviously, he's had a tremendous career and when it's over with, we'll get a chance to reflect on it."
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.