CLEMENS WINS FOURTH CY YOUNG.
Same old Roger Clemens. Be it in Boston or Toronto, when it comes to pitching, he remains the best of the best in the American League.
There was no arguing that Monday as Clemens became the first AL pitcher to pick up a fourth Cy Young award. In new surroundings and with new teammates, Clemens went out and amassed league bests of 21 victories, 292 strikeouts and a 2.05 ERA. That triple achievement hadn't been done since Hal Newhouser for Detroit in 1946.
Clemens, who last won a Cy Young in 1991, was on top of the world again. He had the last laugh on Dan Duquette, the Red Sox general manager who has made comments to the effect that Clemens' best years might be behind him.
``I didn't look at it as if I was washed up,'' said Clemens, who left Boston as a free agent after 13 years. ``That was one guy's assessment of my baseball ability. Frankly, that's one guy who I don't want assessing my ability. Especially sitting in front of a computer.''
At a salary of $31.1 million over four years, Clemens paid off for the Blue Jays, although not as anticipated in one area - the gate. The club drew only 2,589,297, a gain of only 29,734 over 1996. Finishing last had a lot to do with that.
Pitching behind 1996 Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen in the rotation, Clemens said he felt like one of the boys again.
``I'm aggressive as ever and I don't know if my game has changed that much,'' he said. ``I still draw on the same emotions, the same fire. I still have the same dedication to the game and respect. If I lose some of that, something would tail off. But I haven't.''
The fourth Cy Young was personally satisfying for another reason. Clemens has four children. Now, each one has a trophy.
``I got one for Koby and Kory,'' he said. ``I got one for Kasy, and I needed one for Kody. It kind of takes the pressure off Dad a little bit.''
The voting among the Baseball Writers Association of America was no contest, though not unanimous. Clemens had 134 points and 25 of 28 first-place ballots. Runner-up Randy Johnson (20-4, 2.28) of Seattle had two first-place votes and 77 points. The other first-place vote went to reliever Randy Myers of Baltimore.
``Randy missed four games at the end,'' said Clemens. ``I think that would have been a factor. Randy would have been right there and we would have surely knocked heads. But I might have also done better in a couple of starts.''
Clemens did well enough, winning his first 11 decisions. He was 13-3 by the All-Star break, and stayed strong, pitching 264 innings. He won 20 games for the first time since 1990 - the second-longest gap in major-league history; Jim Kaat went eight seasons between 20-win campaigns (1966-74).
For winning the award, Clemens earned a $100,000 bonus.
Curiously, Clemens' manager was fired for the second straight season. Kevin Kennedy got the ax in Boston in 1996, and this year it was Cito Gaston in Toronto.
``I had no problems with Cito,'' said Clemens, ``mainly because I gave him respect. Here is a man who managed two teams to victory in the World Series. I knew what my job and my role was and I went out and did it.''
Gaston, who still lives in Toronto, said from his home that Clemens is one of a kind.
``I really expect a lot out of my players and certainly a guy like Roger wasn't a surprise,'' he said. ``He did a great job. I expected him to win 20. He won 20.
``You can't finish any further back than last, but I hate to think what our record would be without him.
AL CY YOUNG VOTING
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Tot
Roger Clemens, Tor 25 3 -- 134
Randy Johnson, Sea 2 21 4 77
Brad Radke, Min -- 2 11 17
Randy Myers, Bal 1 1 6 14
Andy Pettitte, NY -- 1 6 9
Mike Mussina, Bal -- -- 1 1
CLEMENS CLOSE UP
Wins: 21 (1st)
ERA: 2.05 (1st)
Strikeouts: 292 (1st)
Innings: 264 (T-1st)
Shutouts: 3 (T-1st)
Complete games: 9 (T-1st)
Cy Young years:1997, 1991, 1987, 1986
PHOTO (color) ROCKETMAN, PART 4
Toronto pitcher Roger Clemens won the American League Cy Young on Monday, becoming the first to win the AL award four times.
BOX: AL CY YOUNG VOTING (see text)