You might have noticed that 50-year-old Roger Clemens has re-inserted himself into the national conversation by joining the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, for whom he will toe the rubber this Saturday night. Is he that ravenous for attention? Does he simply love the game that much? In both cases the answer might be yes, but it’s also possible that another motivation is driving Clemens back to the mound.
There’s an interesting theory floating around that I wish I could claim as my own: Clemens is considering a return to Major League Baseball — specifically, the sad-sack, attendance-challenged Astros, for whom a soft-tossing 50-year-old would actually represent an upgrade — in order to postpone a referendum on his Hall of Fame candidacy.
Think about it. Clemens and Barry Bonds are the poster children for baseball’s PED generation. Their Hall of Fame candidacies are on the same clock, and their concurrent five-year waiting periods have elapsed. Roger would love nothing better than to put a little distance between himself and Bonds, Sosa, and the other steroid-tainted candidates whose Hall worthiness is about to come under the unsympathetic scrutiny of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Who knows? Perhaps in another five years, the writers will be in a more benevolent mood. The PED stigma doesn’t erase what happened on the field, and Clemens, like Bonds, was among the all-time greats before the advent of the steroid era.
Plus, Americans — even crotchety members of the BBWAA — are known for their short memories and forgiving natures. Clemens would need only to make an appearance in a major-league game to reset his Hall countdown clock. And the Astros have already sent a scout to take a look at what they would be getting. As pathetic and desperate as it might seem, the spectacle of this AARP-eligible relic in an Astros uniform could be worth it, for both parties.
— Rob Doster is senior editor for Athlon Sports.