Roger Clemens holds up his new jersey during a news conference officially… (David J. Phillip / Associated…)
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, 50, who will pitch for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League on Saturday night. Feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.
Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times
How do you define success? If Roger Clemens wants to have a fun farewell on his own terms -- pitching in his hometown in front of friends and family -- this could be a rollicking success.
But no one believes that is the objective. If Clemens gets rocked, well, that might not be too much fun. And, if Clemens pitches well enough to keep going, he could try a couple starts for the Houston Astros after rosters expand in September.
Why try? Clemens was the only player to mount a full-scale challenge to the Mitchell Report, desperate to try to clear his name before it could appear on a Hall of Fame ballot. Clemens won in court, but not in the court of popular opinion, and Hall of Fame voters continue to take a dim view of players associated with performance-enhancing drugs.
Barry Bonds will be on the ballot this winter. Clemens will be too, unless he pitches in the majors, which would delay his Hall of Fame eligibility for another five years. By that time, perhaps steroids will not be a scarlet letter "S" in Hall of Fame voting. If Clemens essentially defers his eligibility for five years -- and then gets in -- his minor league comeback will be a smashing success.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
Tarnished as he is, Roger Clemens could find a lot better things to do than what he will be doing this weekend -- pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters in an outing when his toe seems halfway in the comeback waters.
It’s unclear if Clemens wants this to be the start of an attempt to get back to the big leagues or just another way to keep busy, but either way the odds are stacked against him. I remember Jim Palmer trying to make a comeback with the Baltimore Orioles long after he had retired. It was an interesting story but, in the end, not a pretty thing to see.
That’s my guess on this Clemens comeback. More of Clemens’ high-80s fastballs will get hit than he suspects. He will surely trick and intimidate a lot of hitters but in August hitters are usually ahead of the pitchers, especially those who have been tied up in court for the last couple of years.
David Selig, Baltimore Sun
The real question is whether he'll take this publicity stunt to the next level and try to parlay it into making a few starts for a major league team in September.
I can't help but think back to when Dan Duquette infamously said Clemens was heading into the "twilight of his career" when the Red Sox let him walk way back in 1996. Sixteen years later, with Duquette now running the Orioles, might Clemens try to stick it to him by signing with another AL wild-card contender?
That would be interesting. A 50-year-old man pitching in an independent league game is not.
Mandy Housenick, Allentown Morning Call
Knowing his routine and the way he prepares, Clemens has a good shot of dominating hitters as he pitches for the Skeeters, an Independent League team. The problem is Clemens, 50, is doing this for all the wrong reasons. The man is bored and starving for attention, the kind of attention that brings cheers and applause, the kind of attention he soaked up during his big league career.
It’s a far cry from the kind of response he’s gotten from the public the last few years as he battled to clear his name from steroid talk. But by the time the night is over, it’s hard to imagine Clemens won’t be hearing more boos than cheers, and it’s likely he will regret having stepped back on the mound again.