The Boston Herald’s Tony Massaroti, Tuesday morning on the competition between the Yankees and Red Sox for the services of Roger Clemens.

Clemens last season earned a base salary of $18 million, the largest ever awarded a pitcher, and he is milking baseball for all it is worth. The going rate this year is anywhere from $3 million to $3.5 million a month, one hell of a price to pay for a four-month lease.

In New York, of course, the price tag means nothing. The Yankees are known for reckless spending, for trying to buy championships as if they were hookers on 42nd Street. They already bought Clemens once, acquiring him in a œtrade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Clemens spent four years in New York, winning two world titles and an American League Cy Young Award, then did what so many transplanted New Yorkers do.

He left.

Really, isn™t that the way it works now? People like Daily News colleague John Harper spend a great deal of time speaking of Curt Schilling™s favorite dancers, Aura and Mystique, but the dames have passed their prime. Their skin is sagging. Mike Mussina went to New York to win a championship, and he™s still waiting. So is Jason Giambi. The Yankees are racking up division titles the way the way Bruins used to, but New York is 0-for-the millennium when it comes to world titles.

The Daily News’ Harper — who surely conferred with Massaroti before Tuesday’s columns were turned in — seems fairly confident the Yankees will ultimately win this courtship.

The Yankees offer him a return to an environment where he will be immediately comfortable, playing for a manager he adores in Joe Torre and teammates such as Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada with whom he still communicates by E-mail.

Yes, his ties in New York still run deep, since he won two world championships as a Yankee and forever earned the admiration of the city with his big-game performance in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, outdueling Curt Schilling before the Diamondbacks did the unthinkable and rallied against Mariano Rivera.

There is also the little matter of run support. The Sox can’t match the Yankee firepower, and wouldn’t it be ironic if Johnny Damon’s defection, which has added a missing dimension to the offense, helps convince Clemens he has a better chance of pitching the Yankees to a championship than he would for the Red Sox.

I’m sure he remembers Sox fans serenading him with the “Ro-ger, Ro-ger,” chant with such delirium when he took that pounding at Fenway in the 1999 ALCS. Then there are the media folks like my esteemed colleague, Tony Maz. To say that Clemens had a love-hate relationship with the Boston media is like saying he had a pretty good fastball in 1986.

Reporters got under his skin there to the point where he once angrily threw a hamburger roll – a high, hard one – at Herald columnist George Kimball in the Sox clubhouse. I don’t know that Massarotti has ever prompted such a response with his pointed jabs, but suffice to say that Clemens considers Boston more of a media minefield than New York.

Naturally, we in the New York press corps take offense to any notion that we’re not as tough as our Boston counterparts. We just don’t take it as personally when the home team loses as do Maz and the boys.

Tellingly, neither East Coast scribe considers the possibility of The Rocket returning to Houston a point to ponder.