Roger Clemens Returning To The Major Leagues?
Roger Clemens is moving closer to returning to the major leagues with the Astros.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman that he plans to have a scout watch Clemens pitch for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters on Sept. 7.
The strong speculation in baseball has been that if all goes reasonably well that night, Clemens will then pitch for the Astros five days later, on Sept. 12 against the Cubs.
Clemens, who turned 50 on Aug. 4, last pitched in the big leagues in 2007 with the Yankees. He would be on this December’s Hall of Fame ballot, but that eligibility will be delayed for another five years if he pitches for the Astros.
In fact, many believe that Clemens’ main motivation in his comeback is to remove himself from this year’s ballot, where his association with performance enhancing drugs would make his election unlikely.
That’s the theory that many have had for this, but there may be other motivations:
I agree that this is one consideration for Clemens, but I doubt it’s the main one. Mostly because I don’t think five years will make a big difference for him one way or the other. If he didn’t pitch and was eligible for the vote now, he’d still be eligible five years from now when, according to this theory, the sentiment towards PED users may change. If that sentiment hasn’t changed five years from now, I question if it ever will, rendering those five more years on the back end superfluous.
No, I think the real reason Clemens wants to pitch again is so that the final paragraph of his obituary — and the final image from any documentaries made of the man — ends with triumph as opposed to infamy.
Think about it: if Clemens were to die without having pitched again, the final chapter of his story will be ending the 2007 season injured, not coming back after being named in the Mitchell Report and then fighting prosecution — and winning an acquittal most people scoffed at anyway — for the last several years of his public life. The last image in that SportsCentury bio or whatever would be him in a suit, with a bad haircut, walking down a Washington D.C. sidewalk with his sleazy lawyer.
But even if he pitches one inning against the Cubs, and even if he doesn’t do terribly well, the last image will be of him walking off the mound in a major league uniform, tipping his cap to adoring fans in his hometown. If he strikes out some September callup all the better. The image will be one of redemption, even if there is nothing especially redeeming about his story.
As for the Astros, it’s easy to see what might motivate them to sign Clemens to even a short term contract. They’re last in their division, attendance is down, and many fans are still upset about their impending shift from the National League to the American League. Signing someone who many in Houston still consider a hero would give them some much needed publicity to finish off the season.
H/T: Jason Epstein