Clemens, Boggs told to see error of their ways

September 17, 1992|By Dan Shaughnessy | Dan Shaughnessy,Boston Globe

BOSTON -- So does this mean Roger Clemens won't wear Wade Boggs' No. 26 at spring training next year?

It's over, they tell us. Wade and Roger late yesterday afternoon shook hands at a 25-minute meeting with manager Butch Hobson.

Wade, Roger and Butch. One room. Twenty-five minutes. We'd love to have been a fly on the wall for this one. Not since Bernie Carbo sat alone in the Red Sox dugout has more brainpower been employed at a single Fenway Park meeting.

Butch Hobson was asked if this was like Yalta and gave us one of those glazed looks.

"Y'all what?" he must have been thinking.

We weren't in the meeting room, but we know the solution to this latest Red Sox mess. Twenty-five guys, 25 official scorers. It's the only answer.

It was a prototype Red Sox moment: superstars fighting over individual stats, ripping one another on the night their last-place team is mathematically eliminated from the race.

It was a story that snowballed by the hour. It all started last Saturday afternoon with an innocent shot down the third-base line by Tony Phillips. Official scorer Charles Scoggins ruled it an error.

After the game, Boggs sent a Red Sox PR person to ask for Scoggins. The scorer went to Boggs and admitted he didn't get a good look at the play. After hearing Boggs' version, Scoggins changed it to a hit -- a move that raised Clemens' ERA from 2.24 to 2.31.

Sunday and Monday, Clemens started hearing stuff from his coaches and teammates. Pitching coach Rich Gale and starter Danny Darwin were particularly upset about the change.

Tuesday night, Clemens was asked about it and responded by blasting Boggs to smithereens. He talked of the times he tried to shut down Don Mattingly and Paul Molitor to help Boggs win batting titles. He talked of Boggs "sitting on his average." He said it was obvious Boggs was not trying to help him. He said Boggs didn't care. He said he was shocked that a teammate would do this.

Clemens crossed into more sensitive areas when he said, "I don't care what anybody does with their personal life, off the field. We have too many personalities to worry about the way guys live their life off the field."

"Personal life." When you talk about Boggs, that's code for Margo Adams, the former extramarital love of his life.

Boggs' response Tuesday was, "Are we giving out errors just because he's Roger Clemens? It's bull."

Yesterday, the story was big. All day. The local tabloid played Rog vs. Wade bigger than the election. It was a field day for sports radio, and Roger himself called WEEI to tell everybody it was no big deal.

There was a playoff atmosphere around the ballyard yesterday at midafternoon. We waited for the PR people to throw open the clubhouse door. We entered the room expecting to see Clemens and Boggs rolling on the carpet like a couple of Greco-Roman wrestlers.

It was somewhat disappointing. Boggs (bad back) was already in the trainer's room, and Clemens was not yet at the park. Maybe he was calling WFAN to tell them this was no big deal.

Clemens arrived at 4:30. Ten minutes later, Boggs slinked through the clubhouse and ducked into the hallway. Then Clemens went through Hobson's office. Both were headed for the Red Sox family lounge, where Hobson waited with the peace pipe.

They met for 25 minutes. No rumbles could be heard. When the meeting was over, there was no toppled furniture in the room, and no hamburger buns on the wall. The three men came out and went into cliche overdrive.

The sanitized version was everything Butch wanted and ordered.

Boggs said, "Roger and I talked about it and everything is fine. We made up. We're just going on with our lives. I've got Roger's respect back. That's all I needed."

Clemens said, "We talked about it, and basically, it's behind us. Personally, I feel it's kind of embarrassing. I tried to describe how I felt. Now I feel a lot better about it. I'm glad it's behind us. Wade and I have been teammates a long time."

Blah, blah, blah.

It was too late for the truth. The truths were uttered in the heat of the moment Tuesday night. And you can be sure that Roger and Wade will not soon forget the shots they absorbed from one another.

You could see the cliches crumble as the night went on. Minutes after Boggs gave his vanilla explanation to the print media, he went on television and said, "I don't see where I did anything wrong." He said that, given the same circumstances, he'd do it again.

This is the problem. Clemens admits that the ball was a hit (trust us, it was a hit), but he is stunned that a teammate would go out of his way to have the error changed to a hit. Especially when one player (Clemens) has much to lose (Cy Young, ERA title) and the other player (Boggs) has little to gain (15 errors or 16 -- what's the diff?).

Meanwhile, we've got Danny Darwin calling the press box in midgame (a game he was pitching) to get a hit changed to a Jody Reed error, and we've got a last-place team mailing it in night after night.

Return to sender. These are the Boys of Bummer.

And be sure to put No. 26 in Rog's locker down in Fort Myers next spring. Just in case.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.