Clemens has tried to convince us that he’s not worried about getting into the Hall of Fame, but we don’t believe that for a minute. With his first year of eligibility looming in 2013 and a crowded list of players already on the ballot, you can bet your bottom dollar Clemens is worried.
You see, Clemens doesn’t want to take the Bert Blyleven route to the Hall of Fame. He wants to go in on the first or at least the first couple of ballots. And when you look at the numbers, he definitely deserves to do so. But the current baseball writers are not having that. They would love nothing more than to make Clemens wait for the call as punishment for their belief that he took PEDs.
So where does this leave Clemens? Well, he could just stay retired and sweat it out every year wondering if the call will come. Or he could come out of retirement and reset the clock on his eligibility and hope that over time, either he’s forgiven or new voters come into the fold.
And if you’re like us and believe that Clemens is concerned about the way he goes into the Hall, you would have no problem seeing that Clemens chose the latter when he signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters. Yes, they’re a minor league team, but they have ties to a specific major league team that may have interest in bringing in Clemens for the rest of the season. That team is the Houston Astros.
We’ll let Ken Rosenthall of Fox Sports lay the groundwork for the possibility of Clemens coming out of retirement and joining the Astros as early as September.
First the obligatory, “Clemens is still in good shape.” declaration:
Mike Elias, the Houston Astros’ amateur scouting director, watched Clemens throw Monday before the right-hander signed with the Texas-based Skeeters, who play in the independent Atlantic League.
“He is in condition to pitch and pitch successfully,” said former Astros club president Tal Smith, who is now a consultant and special adviser to the Sugar Land ownership and witnessed Clemens’ bullpen session Monday.
“How that translates to the major leagues, obviously, that’s a little bit different. But I wouldn’t put it past him.”
And now, what’s in it for both parties involved:
By returning to the majors, Clemens could restart his Hall of Fame clock — his first year of eligibility currently is 2013, but he would postpone that until five years after his next retirement if he pitched even in one major-league game.
The Astros, meanwhile, would gain a potential gate attraction for the final month of the season — a potential consideration for a team that entered the week with 40 losses in its past 47 games and fired manager Brad Mills on Saturday night.
Don’t think for a moment that Clemens hasn’t already discussed this with the Astros. He has. And because of his concern for his Hall of Fame status and the Astros’ concerns at the gate, we’ll eventually see a 50 year-old Roger Clemens pitching in the majors.