Roger Clemens is trying to pull wool over fans’ eyes

(Photo credit: AP, David J. Phillip)

In a rather bizarre twist in the latest chapter of Unnecessary Comebacks, Roger Clemens decided to come out of retirement at age 50 and pitch for the Independent League team the Sugar Land Skeeters (yes, in a year where the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus is running rampant through Texas, Clemens in pitching for a team whose mascot is that very same pest). Clemens pitched admirably yesterday, going 3.1 innings, only allowing one hit, no runs, and struck out three. It was an impressive 37 pitches for any 50 year old and ESPN covered the story in all of its glory.

However, there is nothing glorious about this story and if you use some brain power you can easily figure out what Clemens is doing. Before I delve into conspiracy theories, I must state that both the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals had scouts at last night’s game and the floundering Astros publicly stated they’re interested in signing Clemens. With Major League interest, it must also be made known that Clemens is eligible for the Hall of Fame this year. Signing with an MLB club, even if he only throws one pitch would delay his eligibility another five years, making the earliest year of admission 2017.

With that said, we cannot ignore Clemens’ recent legal problems all stemming from reports that he used performance enhancing drugs during his career, especially in the late 1990s. Clemens was easily a first ballot Hall of Famer before the accusations started flying, but after being charged with lying to Congress (he was exonerated of the charges) and a recent spat of potential Hall of Fame players unable to gain the votes necessary to get into Cooperstown, one has to wonder if this “comeback” is all a calculated move on Clemens’ part.

Given the voters’ penchant for not letting in possible or admitted steroids users into Cooperstown, and Clemens’ story still being so fresh in our minds, it seems unlikely that the Rocket would find himself at an induction ceremony next year. Mark McGwire has found himself in this situation and most expect Barry Bonds to join McGwire in the Hall of Futility when he’s eligible this season. As of August 2012, I would put Roger Clemens in that same situation.

So what’s the man going to do? Easy, pitch in MLB once again, delay his eligibility by five years and hope like hell the voters are more forgiving in 2017 than they are in 2012.

I’m sure others are discussing this possibility, but the mainstream sports media is too afraid to speak of such a travesty. ESPN was all about how great it was to see the legendary Clemens (PEDs aside, he is a legend) pitching for the Skeeters and speculating on a possible move back to pitch in Major League Baseball.

Now, Bud Selig shouldn’t do a thing to prevent Clemens from coming back. He was found not guilty of lying to Congress and outside of pretty damning allegations, we can’t banish the man from baseball. He’s a legend and if he wants to come back, let him. However, we must all be cognizant of what Clemens may have done as a player and Cooperstown voters should not let another five years diminish their memories.

Legendary players from the 80s and 90s took awful risks when they allegedly took PEDs. Consider this, Barry Bonds hit more home runs in his career than Hank Aaron, but few are willing to call Bonds the “home run king” over Aaron. Clemens is hoping that a happy story of a 50-year old legend making a comeback in Major League Baseball is something historic and rare (which it is), but there’s something a lot more. It’s a man that desperately trying to escape the shadows of his dark past. One of the greatest pitchers to ever hit the mound is struggling to save his legacy which will forever be tarnished, even with 7 Cy Young Awards in the trophy room. It could be a sad final chapter for yet another one of the greatest to play the game, only to see it all vanish in a sea of legal bills and bad press.

Baseball fans have had enough and with big players testing positive for PEDs recently, we should put our collective feet down once and for all.

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