On Roger Clemens’ Return to Baseball

This is absolutely insane.

Roger Clemens has signed with an independent league baseball team. Fifty years old, five years since he last threw off the mound, Roger Clemens will be pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League.

I’ve taken a look at the Skeeters’ schedule. They’re in York the week of Labor Day. I went to a York Revolution game last month.

That would be pretty wild, actually. Drive up to York after work, watch Roger Clemens pitch in a 3,000 seat minor league ballpark. I can barely conceive of a world where the sentence I just typed makes any sense at all.

No. Wait. I take that back. I can conceive of that world. Clemens was to be on the Hall of Fame ballot this year. Pitching professionally — and the independent Atlantic League is a professional league, even if it’s outside the jurisdiction of Major League Baseball — resets the clock on his eligibility for the Hall. There’s even some silly thought that the Houston Astros might take him on in September; it’s not like the Astros have anything to lose. The main reason for Clemens, though, is resetting that clock. Even with his perjury acquittal, five more years for the taint of the steroid scandal to fade would help his chances of making the Hall.

Maybe.

And no, I’m not driving up to York to watch Roger Clemens pitch in an independent league baseball game.

Don’t get me wrong. The York Revolution play in a lovely park. I had a great time there last month. I wouldn’t mind taking in another game in York. But Clemens isn’t a reason for that. Hell, I barely gave a damn about his career when he was a major league pitcher. The only thing that interests me in this story is the cynical move he’s making in restarting the Hall of Fame clock.

Anyway, I’m already going to DC on Labor Day to see the Cubs play the Nats. Plus, I’m thinking about maybe visiting Congressional Cemetary (about six blocks from Nationals Park) after the game and locating the grave of my great-great-grandfather. Followed by the National Symphony Orchestra concert on the Capitol lawn.

And that’s much more interesting to me than seeing Roger Clemens, fifty years old, standing on the mound and staring down kids half his age who washed out of organized baseball and who are taking this last shot at living out their dreams, all so he can wait out the clock and hope the stench of the steroids era and his role in it fades when his name comes up next on the Hall of Fame ballot five or more years from now.

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