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At least Bonds knows he’s hated

Casper's CornerJeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. I hope I am not alone in wishing Roger Clemens would get over himself.He may be a surefire Hall of Famer, and it’s not debatable that he’s posted numbers few current or future hurlers will ever as much as flirt with. But, as he un-retires for the third time in as many years, can’t he tone down the pomp and circumstance? It was legitimately intriguing last season, watching the Rocket tour the minors on his way to Houston, but I really didn’t want to see an encore in 2007. Especially not with the Yankees.The Astros bent over backwards to accommodate Clemens, and he repaid them by jumping ship. Worse, we had to endure the pompous display that was his comeback speech earlier this month. During the seventh-inning stretch of a game, no less?Not even Barry Bonds possesses the gall to try something like this. At least he realizes people hate him.Clemens seems to turn a blind eye to the bridges he burns. And he doesn’t just burn bridges. He torches them. Boston fans hate his guts. I can’t imagine Ontarians like him too much, and now Astros fans are calling for Roger’s head, wanting their organization to cancel the 10-year personal services contract Clemens has with the team after he calls it a career.Even shameless Yankees fans must be struggling to swallow this pill, showering him with a hero’s exit during his 2003 retirement tour only to see Clemens pitch again the next year in Houston.I saw Clemens’ true colors firsthand a year ago. I was among the 340-plus media members working his Double-A tuneup start with the Round Rock Express. Nolan Ryan owns a big chunk of the Central Texas minor-league team and, naturally, was in attendance. Ryan – friendly, soft-spoken and approachable – took to the field for a pregame press conference, slowly approaching a cluster of reporters with his hands in his pockets. The way Ryan carries himself – with class and humility – you’d never know you were looking at one of the baseball’s greatest pitchers of all time.Let’s contrast that with Clemens’ post-outing press conference. Smug and condescending as can be, the then 43-year-old was sure to let us all know he didn’t need to be pitching in the minor leagues. Thanks, Roger, for filling us in, for reminding us how wonderful you are.Time and time and time again.Soccer anyone?Perhaps it was last summer’s compelling World Cup that hooked me. Or maybe the countless nights I’ve wasted playing FIFA 2007 on my buddy’s Xbox 360 (yes, I’m a dork).I’m not entirely sure who or what can claim credit for this, but for the first time in my life, I’m taking a genuine interest in soccer.That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, speak, shout or scribble.I can truly say I enjoyed covering soccer this past spring. Once you make an attempt to understand the sport, it’s fascinating. Particularly at the highest levels.And tomorrow’s battle for European soccer’s biggest prize – the UEFA Champions League title – is worth a watch. If you’re not working at 12:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, that is. It’ll be the Italian League’s AC Milan versus Liverpool of the English Premier League on ESPN2. After making an effort to watch an EPL game or two this season, I must concede the precision and athleticism displayed by the game’s best is jaw-dropping. The World Cup showed us that, and I can’t imagine the UEFA final being any different.Contact Jeff Caspersen at jcaspersen@postindependent.com or 384-9123.


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