Rocket? Unit? CY?

<i>Cy young talk makes Randy's head hurt</i>

Ask Curt Schilling what it's like to be an older right handed power pitcher in the National League. With Schilling now in the AL battling another power throwing lefty in Johan Santana for the Cy Young, the Rocket, Roger Clemens has come over to the NL to battle Randy Johnson for the top pitching prize. Associate Editor Chad T. Jones takes a look at the race.

The only thing anybody knows about this year's National League Cy Young award winner is that he's going to be old. How old you might ask? How about older than Gaylord Perry or at least older than the famous spit baller was in 1978 when he became the oldest pitcher to win the award at the age of 40. That's because the only two hurlers with a realistic chance at taking home the trophy are 42 year-old Roger Clemens and Arizona's 41 year-old Randy Johnson. Some analysts might counter with Florida's 18-game-winner, Jason Schmidt who won, an N.L. high, 12 consecutive decisions this year on his way to an 18-7 record, but let's be honest with ourselves for a minute. There's no way anybody outside of Dade or San Fran county is going to vote for anybody other Clemens or Johnson, and it's not just because voters felt sorry for them being morphed into the ugliest thing television every created (That includes Frankenstein, his bride and the Kerry Campaign). That might sound mean but you tell me what's uglier than a 6-foot, 10 inch, stocky Texan with a gapped tooth and a mullet? I might digress, but the reason why the Cy Young will go to either the Rocket or the Big Unit is because neither of their games have gotten as ugly as that commercial.

The Rocket's inaugural season in the senior circuit was his best since 2001 when he picked up his Major League record sixth Cy Young as a member of the New York Yankees.

The Texas native celebrated retirement and his homecoming by going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA. The ERA was his lowest since 1998 when he had a 2.65 ERA with Toronto and his 18-4 record was his best since going 20-3 in 2001.

The Unit's base numbers were equally if not more impressive than Clemons except for his less than stellar record, though an argument can be made that 16-14 in Arizona could be translated to 25-4 for any real team. Johnson led the majors with 290 strikeouts and finished second in the league in ERA (2.60), inning pitched (245.2) and K's per 9 innings (10.62). He also became the oldest man to throw a perfect game when he retired 27 Atlanta Braves in a row on May 18. But since the two most important stats in this game continue to be wins and losses anybody wanting to make a case for the Unit better prepare to get dirty and dig for the stats only Billy Bean would love.

For starters, hitters had a league low .194 batting average against the lefty, while batters hit .217 against Clemens. Johnson also walked 35 less batters even though he pitched 31.1 more innings than the Rocket.

Still not convinced that Johnson is as close to getting his record tying 6th Cy (it would be his 5th in the last 6 years) as Clemens is to getting his 7th? Well than I guess I'll keep digging. Anybody who slips in and out of a fantasy league knows that pitching is all about the WHIP (Walks/Hits/Innings Pitched). Well the Unit's league leading .90 WHIP was nearly .10 a point lower than anybody not named Santana and it was .26 points lower than Clemens who finished 10th in the majors at 1.16. Maybe the most impressive stat I have for Johnson is the fact that he was 13-2 in games where the Diamondbacks scored at least 3 runs. Clemens was also very successful when his team plated at least two runs for him, and his team did win the last nine games he started. The difference is Clemens didn't have to make every start knowing that if he gave up a three-run homer in the first, he'd be hung with a loss after the 9th.

Now don't get me wrong, If Roger Clemens does end up picking up his seventh Cy Young, he will have certainly earned it and the fact that he is even in this conversation is a testament to the greatest pitcher of my generation, but in a year where the D-backs seemed to have lost everything from 111 games to a minor league franchise and even a manager after four days, don't you think they should at least win something?

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