He deserves some time to rest
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

MIAMI -- Roger Clemens, the Hardest Working Man in Sports, takes the mound Wednesday night for the final start of his illustrious Hall of Fame career.

"I want my final legacy to be that I worked harder than any worker in the history of the world has ever worked," Clemens said while doing one-armed pushups during a press conference. "I want people to think, 'Think how much I could accomplish with my life if I occasionally worked half as hard as the Rocket did every day of his career.'"

Roger Clemens
Just think how good The Babe would have been if had one-tenth the work ethic of Clemens.

Clemens' training regimen is legendary. It is so strenuous that he puts West Virginia coal miners, single mothers working three jobs and Mississippi Delta sharecroppers to shame.

"The average person doesn't realize how ballplayers often work out several hours a day, three to four days a week, during their four-month offseason," Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "But Roger takes that work ethic to a whole new level."

"I tried working out with him one winter, but I didn't survive the first week," New York teammate Andy Pettitte said. "Running through snow drifts at 8,000 feet in the Sierra Nevadas while carrying a 250-pound log chopped from an old-growth Redwood wasn't that bad. I could probably have taken the 40-day fast in the desert he had planned for us later in the program, too. And I was actually looking forward to walking across hot coals in my bare feet. It was the daily morning coffee enemas that seemed over the top.

"But that's Roger. He doesn't know any other way. That's why he's as good as he is. That's why he's the Hardest Working Man in Sports."

Clemens said that despite the significance of Wednesday's start, he will not vary from his usual game-day routine.

Roger Clemens
Clemens also gets excited after he finishes his 2,000 pregame warmup tosses.

"I'll begin the day with a light 26.2-mile marathon jog while carrying the Babe Ruth plaque in my backpack," Clemens told reporters during his set of 1,000 sit-ups. "I'll come back to the hotel room, drink a light mixture of liver, whey, soybean and monkey brains. Then I'll relax on a bed of nails inside a hyperbolic chamber until it's time to run to the stadium.

"I'll get to the ballpark about 14 hours before game time and I'll trim the infield grass with a nailclipper until it's just the right length. After that, I'll review game video of Juan Pierre's at-bats from his days in the Mobile, Ala. Little League, looking for any weakness that I can exploit. When the team bus arrives, I'll get my weight training in by bench-pressing Don Zimmer 50 times. Then I'll go to the bullpen to warm up.

"When I finish warming up, I'll rub the Babe Ruth plaque until my fingers bleed and place a call from the bullpen phone to Dan Duquette to ask whether his refrigerator is running.

"That's about it, really, other than painting Yankees pinstripes down my face and tattooing the NY logo onto my forehead with an unsanitary knife and copier toner."

And then it will be game time, the final game the Hardest Working Man in Sports will ever start. Clemens said he has no plans for his post-baseball career, other than to begin sculpting his own Hall of Fame plaque using only a tootbrush.

"I'll miss the game, the competition, my teammates, and, of course, the hard work," Clemens said before leaving the interview room to push the Yankees bus around the parking lot just for fun. "But I'll be honest -- it will be nice to take it a little easy in retirement, especially given that I haven't allowed myself to sleep since the 1983 College World Series."

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.



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