10/22/2003 7:19 PM ET
Rocket fans aplenty at Pro Player
Clemens' last start a hot topic before Game 4
Own the Rocket's final start
MIAMI -- It isn't difficult to find Yankees fans in Florida, where transplanted New Yorkers are as common as lunar-module-sized bugs.
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
It's even easier to find fans of Roger Clemens, who made his first professional start in the Sunshine State and, in working Game 4 of the World Series at Pro Player Stadium on Wednesday, was set to make what he insists is his last one here, too.
"I think it's beautiful," said Frances Diamond, who was born in upstate New York but now lives in Hollywood, Fla.
Diamond, wearing a Clemens replica road jersey before Game 4, said she "adopted" the Marlins when she moved to Florida in 1999. But she still keeps close tabs on the Yankees, and while she wants the Fish to eventually win the World Series, she'd like nothing more than to see the Rocket go out in a blaze of glory.
"I'm in a tough spot to begin with, because my whole family is full of die-hard Yankees fans, and they think I'm crazy now that I like the Marlins," she explained. "But even a Marlins fan can appreciate what Roger has done over his career, and whether they admit it or not, I think a lot of them want to see him do really good tonight."
Diamond was right. Most of the Marlins fans approached for Rocket reflections copped to admiring the man. And yes, they said, it'd be pretty cool to see him pitch well in his farewell.
"He's a legend," said Kenneth Granger of Miami. "And not many legends get to go out on top."
"When you think of big-game pitchers, you think of someone like Clemens," said Diedre James of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "He's one of the best, and you just have a feeling he'll be on top of his game tonight."
"It'd be nice if he had one more really special night in him," said James' husband, Tony, who grew up on Long Island but considers himself a "Marlins-slash-Yankees" fan. "I've never seen him pitch in person before, so to say I got to see him at his best in the World Series would be great."
"Yeah, it'd be nice to see him pitch well," added Cody Newton of South Beach. "He deserves that."
But as Daniel Singer of Coconut Grove, Fla., noted, pitching well and winning are two totally different alligators.
"Hey, Beckett was awesome [in Game 3] and he took the loss," Singer said. "Tons of guys pitch great games and lose. Look at Pedro Martinez in that Game 7 [of the ALCS]. So for me, here's the perfect scenario for tonight: Clemens pitches six or seven great innings, but [the Marlins] find a way to beat him. There's no shame in that.
"Do I respect Roger Clemens? Absolutely. The guy's a stud, and he's been one forever. Do I feel lucky to be here for his last game? Sure. Any true baseball fan would.
"But do I want the Fish to be down three games to one? No."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.