As far as Dave Stewart is concerned, the record speaks louder than money and it matters little that Roger Clemens is baseball's highest-paid pitcher. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and according to Stewart, he's the king of the hill.
Clemens may have signed a $21.5 million contract, but Stewart quickly points out that he has dominated the Red Sox star since their rivalry began when Stewart was with Texas and that he's shooting for a goal that even Clemens couldn't possibly reach for another five years.Not long ago, Stewart was tops when it came to salary. Last January, he signed a two-year extension that will pay him about $3.5 million for 1991 and 1992. He was comfortable and figured, as a lot of players did, that few would ever do better. In fact, when the A's subsequently signed Jose Canseco to a contract that pays $5.6 million and $5.8 million in its final two years, Stewart figured baseball had finally reached the limit. He was wrong.
But even though Clemens could wind up making $6 million in an option year, Stewart has not changed his theories of relativity. He still feels he's the better pitcher and that after 1992, who's to say he won't be worth $6 million?
"I'm happy for Roger," said Stewart. "His timing was just right, and with him getting that much, it definitely opens the door for my next contract. He deserves to be paid well. But what it comes down to is that he's just worth $2 million more to Boston. It has nothing to do with him being the best pitcher in the game.
"He was the best one time, and I've beaten him eight times since then. So I don't worry about that part of it anymore. For what I do, I'm the best at it. For what Roger does, he's the best. I'm talking about striking out people and having a low ERA. What I do is get people out and win big games. If somebody is out there who can win big games better than I do, I'd like to see who it is."
If Clemens has gotten his just rewards, can it be long before Stewart approaches the A's with similar demands.
"I'm not greedy," said Stewart. "My commitment is to this ball club. As long as I'm capable of winning ballgames and helping this club win, I'm pretty sure we'll be able to find a happy medium to keep me here.
"My contract is for $3.5 million. I don't have a problem with what I make. I believe, even when it's time for me to sign, the A's will be able to come up with $5.3 million, $5.4 million . . . whatever I go after. I don't have a problem committing myself to say I'll stay here for less money."
Stewart wants to be the first man since Ferguson Jenkins to win 20 games in six straight seasons. Four down; two to go.