This was my initial reaction to the Roger Clemens comeback: No way they mean he's coming back as a pitcher, tossing in actual baseball games against actual baseball players.
But that is indeed the case. Clemens is making a return to baseball with the Sugar Land Skeeters and we might even see him pitch for the Astros again. Can't say I saw it coming, honestly. Dude is 50 and we hadn't seen him on the mound since 2007. Unless a retired Clemens was practicing his fastball through all the madness of the Mitchell report and the perjury trials that eventually followed, it's hard to believe Clemens isn't just as thrown off by this return as the rest of us are.
Desperation is a beast, though.
Clemens seems to be doing this for the sake of having his good name again. That's been his deal since he denied using human growth hormone and steroids in front of Congress, when he actually didn't have to say anything. But Clemens is about this good name stuff and he realizes the word association with #Clemens is going to have a lot to do with his Hall of Fame chances.
The HOF obviously means a lot to a guy like Clemens, one of the elite pitchers of his time. So this could work out image-wise if the voters see him perform as a shell of himself when he's 50 and drug testing is highly enforced.
Here's the hangup, though: it shouldn't have to be this way. If the baseball writers were encouraged to consider performance and performance alone in their voting, Clemens wouldn't feel like he has to pull this desperate move of returning to baseball just when he's becoming AARP eligible.
For me, this is an indictment on the system. Here we have a player who earned his HOF status and the records he holds, steroids or not. Whatever "edge" Clemens gained against the competition in his prime, it was still the edge that HE gained. Let's not even start on how many juicers don't pan out to be too much of anything.
Point being that the man still had to be Roger Clemens, which translates to being a Hall of Fame pitcher. Now he has to degrade what was an outstanding career just to entertain the myth that he didn't have one.
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