I think we can safely assume the New York Daily News’ Mike Lupica hasn’t been giggling over the new Roger Clemens dropped-call commercial from AT&T Wireless. Whitlock’s former sparring partner insists, “The Yankees better make the playoffs and Clemens better pitch better the rest of the way, or you know what he is? He is more wasted pitching money. The way Igawa is. The way Carl Pavano was.”

By the time it was 8-0 Chicago the other day, Clemens was hearing boos from another great big summer crowd as he walked off the mound. So far he is something less than the beloved figure he was supposed to be in this Yankees comeback. These starts have been somewhat less than the Big Events they were supposed to be.

Then afterwards, you were exhausted hearing and reading about how soft some of the hits were, what rotten luck Clemens had gotten because of some shoddy fielding behind him, as if somehow his teammates should have carried him off the field after Joe Torre took the ball from him, as if somebody else had given up nine hits in less than two innings of work. The fans were a bit smarter than that. They knew what they had seen.

The Yankees didn’t spend high this week to go out and rent – or even buy – a top reliever like Eric Gagne, one who fits their current needs much better than he fits Boston’s. Why?

Because they have already rented the most expensive high-rent pitcher in the history of baseball: Clemens. They are paying him $1 million a start and so far they have gotten three wins out of him.

Kevin Brown was that guy and Javy Vazquez was that guy, so were Jose Contreras and Randy Johnson. Each one was going to be the big horse the Yankees could ride to No. 27.

They just weren’t here at a prorated salary of $28 million a year.

Or to put it another way, Mike Bascik and Brian Bannister have accomplished more in ’08 than The Rocket.