PREVIEW OF A FALL CLASSIC? - Sports Illustrated Vault |
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Nearly a month ago, NBC's Tony Kubek observed: ''All last year we
heard that a Dwight Gooden comes along once in a lifetime. Now we've
got Gooden and Roger Clemens at the same time.'' What made this
year's All-Star Game so special was that it presented the matchup of
two of baseball's most meteoric stars.
No one expected that a three-inning exhibition would result in
many conclusions about their relative abilities. But the smokeout did
yield some comparisons and whetted appetites for a Red Sox-Mets World
Series. Their velocities are similar: Gooden's top pitch was clocked
on the Astros' JUGS gun at 98 mph, while Clemens's was recorded at 99
(equaled only by Clemens's idol, Nolan Ryan) on a pitch to Ryne
Sandberg. Clemens hit the high 90s more consistently in the three
innings, and his fastball had more movement up in the strike zone.
''No one in our league throws as hard as Clemens,'' said Darryl
Strawberry. Gooden has the better curveball, but Clemens has a
slider. ''If Gooden had a slider, I might retire,'' says Mike
Schmidt of the Phillies.
Several National League players openly marveled at Clemens. ''He
and Gooden are very much alike -- roses,'' rhapsodized Cincinnati's
Dave Parker. Lost in the excitement of the duel was the performance
of the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela, who now shares with fellow
screwballer Carl Hubbell the distinction of striking out five
straight All-Stars.